A new Don Cherry jacket designed by the students at Campbellton Middleton School in New Brunswick ((Courtesy Alan Adams))

It didn't take long for Brittany Court and friends to come up with their plan.

As part of a Tim Horton's Hockey Day in Canada assignment, Court and her classmates at the Campbellton Middle School were asked to design a new jacket for Don Cherry.

Less than a minute into their brain-storming session, their minds were made up and the would-be fashionistas went to work.

"It had to be a crazy design," said the 12-year-old Court, who is from nearby Tide Head. "Don always wears crazy stuff on television and you're never sure what he is going to wear. We had a lot of fun."

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

A mish-mash of colours

The jacket is a mish-mash of colours, complete with a Don Cherry cartoon-like head.

"I like it," said Court. "Lots of colors. I think he would like it."

The jackets were just part of the action.

Each of the 200-plus students at the school for grades seven, eight and nine were asked to design a tie for the fashion-conscious Cherry and again their imaginations went on a fashion version of a power-play.


A few of the ties hanging on the walls of Campbellton Middleton School. ((Courtesy Alan Adams))

"It was a cool assignment," said 11-year-old Anthony Trites. "Nobody knows what he is going to wear and we had to be a little different

"I put a smiley on mine, just for fun."

The jackets and ties will be on parade for the entire student body on Friday when the Campbellton Middle School holds a Hockey Day in Canada assembly, which former Toronto Maple Leaf great Wendel Clark is scheduled to attend. The teachers and staff are upping the ante by having their own Don Cherry look alike contest, and judging by the jackets that are hanging in the staff room, Cherry would be proud.

Hockey is part and parcel of this town in northern New Brunswick and Canada's favoured game is on full display as soon as you enter the aging brick building.

A way of life

The staff mailboxes are adorned with hockey jersey stickers, and it's obvious the historic rivalry between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs have invaded the walls of academia. There are hockey pictures throughout the school.

If a student is upset with one of his teachers, he often arrives at school the next day wearing the jersey (Montreal or Toronto that is) of the team the teacher dislikes the most.

Joanne Currie, who wanted the students involved in the Hockey Day in Canada festivities, feels it is only natural that hockey plays a big part in the lives of people.

"It is part of us," she said. "It is a big part of this community."

Campbellton's rich hockey history was one of the reasons why the CBC chose this out-of-the way bilingual town to play host to Hockey Day in Canada.

Lots of festivities

There's definitely no shortage of things to do here over the Hockey Day weekend.

The festivities start Thursday with a junior game between the Restigouche Tigers and Summerside (PEI), along with a hockey clinic and a smelt fry at the local curling club. Smelts are running at this time of the year and the ice fishermen populating the dozens of shanties along the shore are reporting a good season.

Friday is a big day with the school assembly, a girl’s high school game and more clinics, banquets and shinny games.

Then on Saturday, Ron MacLean will host Hockey Day in Canada, a day-long tribute to the game Canadians hold close to their heart. 

Saturday’s on-ice schedule at the Campbellton Civic Centre includes plenty of minor hockey games and a tribute to the late Luc Bourdon, who died in a motorcycle accident last May. Bourdon grew up in Shippagan on the Acadian coast and won two gold medals for Canada at the world junior championships and played for the Vancouver Canucks.

The Stanley Cup

The Stanley Cup will be on display throughout the weekend and the kids at the middle school can't wait to have their picture taken with the fabled trophy.

"That will be really cool," said 11-year-old Michael Rioux.

Currie said that once it sunk in that this barely discernable dot on the map on the Quebec-New Brunswick border was going to play host to Hockey Day in Canada, the teachers and staff decided the students had to be part of it.

"The students are excited," she said. "Once we told them we wanted them to do a new jacket for Don Cherry, well they had fun. They were into it and you could tell they had their own little competition."

"I can't wait until the assembly," continued Currie. "It's going to be a lot of fun and we have a few surprises for them."

Something more outlandish than the loudest Don Cherry suit?

"It's a surprise," said Currie.