Where are they now? 1970- ‘71 Neepawa Natives



Photo courtesy of Cecil Pittman archives: Southwest Hockey Champions: 1970- ‘71 Neepawa Natives. Back row: Jim Easton, Ian Kingdon, Norm Koberinski, Harvey Ebner, Barrie Brooking, Les Thomson, Jim Sangster, Bob Jaska, Murray Wilkie and Larry Evans. Front row: Cecil Bolton, Clayton Hainstock, Don Martin, Cecil Pittman, Allan Griffiths, Don Smith (coach)


By Rick Sparling

The Neepawa Press

In the 1970 to ‘71 season, the Neepawa Natives won the South West Hockey League championship. Jim Sangster took his schooling in Stoughton, SK, and graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a degree in Phys-Ed. He became a teacher at the collegiate in Minnedosa from 1970 to 1975 teaching physical education. He worked for the Department of Education, he was Principal at Easterville and Amaranth and finally moved to Grand Rapids, MB, where he was vice principal and taught math and shop. He married Linda Ferland. Jim has three children and eight grandchildren. His main hobby is fly tying and fly fishing. He describes himself as a “professional trout fisherman.”

Harvey Ebner grew up in Minnedosa and after leaving school, worked in the accounting office at Minnedosa Co-op. He worked for Manitoba Highways as a surveyor and in 1972, he married Betty McFadyen. They had three girls; Sherry, Julie and Joanna and have three grandchildren. Harvey opened Ebners/Hainstock’s Men’s Wear in 1974 and in 1991, he joined Agassiz Insurance until 2003, at which time he went to work at Gill & Schmall Agencies. Harvey is still active there. He played for four years with the Neepawa Natives and is an avid golfer. Harvey and Betty reside in Neepawa.

Les Thomson came in from Gladstone for his games with the Natives. Les played for the Portage Terriers from 1967-70 and played for a couple of years with Neepawa directly after Portage. He left to play hockey in Australia for five years and returned to Gladstone where he worked for his dad, driving for his bulk oil dealership. He married Judy and ended up in Winnipeg, where he is currently semi-retired, still operating a snow removal business and apparently loves working too much to fully retire. Les’ hobbies include playing old timer’s hockey and cross country skiing.   

Jim Easton is the one player from the ‘70- ‘71 Natives who I was unable to track down. If anyone knows anything about Jim, please contact me and I will add his information into a future column.

Allan Griffiths left high school to go truck driving for Arnold Brothers. He left for Edmonton after his first marriage ended in a divorce, then to Mayerthorpe, where he drove truck and met and married Gail Dixon. He helped Gail raise her three sons and they had a son together as well. Allan had two children previously and had three grandchildren. Al and Gail moved around central Alberta, with him working different farms and doing some trucking as well. He had a love of horses and spent his last few years entering his miniature ponies in the chuckwagon races. Allan passed away in 2013 as a result of throat cancer.

Cecil Bolton enjoyed golf and managed the golf course for a few years. Cec played for years with both the Neepawa Cubs baseball team and the Neepawa Natives Intermediate hockey club. He ran the Imperial Oil bulk station for some time. He married Joan Atkins and they had three children. Cecil passed away in 1999.

Murray Wilkie left Neepawa to play for the Brandon Wheat Kings and did some schooling there until he left to pursue a hockey career. Murray spent over 20 years playing hockey in the winter (see page 682 in the book for details) and he leased the Texaco garage up at Clear Lake in the summer. After hockey, he moved to Winnipeg where he owned the franchise for Plainsman Equipment. He married Lynda Young in 1974 and they have two children, Clint and Kim and have six grandchildren. Murray continued on with hockey, playing old timer’s up until 2014. The Wilkies live in West St. Paul. Murray keeps busy with working on skidoos, log splitters, a jeep and a variety of other mechanical machines and also has his farm just west of Neepawa near Franklin. He currently leases that out to the Pegoski family.

Larry Evans played some junior hockey with the Wheat Kings and the Winnipeg Rangers. Upon his return to Neepawa he got involved in the family business (restaurant/bowling alley). He played for the Neepawa Natives for many years. Larry just recently sold his business to the Boston Pizza group. He married Nancy Hunter and they reside in Neepawa. 

Bob Jaska worked for his father’s construction company in Brandon after leaving school and eventually took over that business. He then worked for 22 years with Manitoba Housing and retired from there in 2014. Bob married Christine Malinowski and they had two boys and have five grandchildren. He played many years of hockey with the Natives and with the old timer’s traveling all over to do so. Bob does some golfing and still resides in Brandon.

Norm Koberinski grew up on a farm outside of Lanigan, SK and took all of his schooling at a small rural school in Loyola. He played some Junior hockey at Humboldt and some Juvenile in North Battleford (1955). He went to Davidson and played some hockey for the Maidstone Jets in 1956. Norm married Sharon Haugen and they had two children and have three grandchildren. Norm came to Neepawa to work for the Neepawa/Gladstone Co-op in 1970 and played for the Natives for two years. He likes to do some golfing and reading and the Koberinskis have retired to Medicne Hat, AB.

Ed Williams received all his education in Neepawa and went to work in his dad’s store, Williams Tomboy, until Reg passed away in 1986, at which time, Ed took over the business. The Roe brothers worked for Ed for years and he sold it to them in 1996. Ed joined up as a case worker at Touchwood Park and stayed there for 20 years, until his retirement in 2016. He married Gwen Moore and they have two children. Ed travels over to Carberry twice a week to work at a ‘crisis house’ there and the Williams still reside in Neepawa.

Don Martin played some Junior hockey with the Wheat Kings and the St. Boniface Canadians and returned to Neepawa to his mixed farming operation. While living on the farm, he played 20 consecutive years for the Neepawa Cub baseball team and played for many years with the Natives hockey club. Don also coached for some time in the minor hockey system. He married Eleanore  Anderson and they had three children and have three grandchildren. Don continues to live on the farm. 

Barrie Brooking left Treherne in 1965 to start a teaching career in Minnedosa, which lasted for 36 years and he retired in 2001. Barrie married Dorothy Litton and they had three children and five grandkids. He played for the Natives from 1967 until 1972 and played another six years with the Minnedosa Bombers after that. Barrie follows the Wheat Kings in the winter and is an avid golfer in the summer. The Brookings live in Minnedosa.

Don Smith lived in Hamiota and since his father was a bank manager, moved on to Virden and Binscarth, as that profession demanded. He received his education in those three towns. It was in Binscarth where Don met and married Dorothy Gray in 1952. Don was a telegrapher with the CPR at that time. 

In 1966, they moved to Neepawa and bought Hare’s Cartage in partnership with Harold Isenberg. Eventually it became Don’s as Neepawa Truck Service and he sold that business to Gardewine in 1983, at which time he retired. Don and Dorothy had five children, 13 grandchildren and just last year, Dorothy became a great grandmother. Don enjoyed walking and visiting friends along with doing some gardening. He passed away in 1997.

Ian Kingdon took his schooling in Basswood, as he grew up on the family farm there and went into Minnedosa for his last couple years of high school. He ventured up to Thompson when the mines first opened and worked for a while before coming back to farm on his dad’s farm. It was a small mixed farm and had some pigs, cattle and a variety of crops. Ian eventually took ownership and farmed his entire life there. He married Karen McNight from Killarney and they had three children and five grandchildren. Ian loved horseback riding and camping out. Ian passed away in 2010.

Clayton Hainstock grew up in Minnedosa and after graduating from Grade 12 went for a training course in psychiatric nursing. Upon discovering that wasn’t for him, he became a lineman for Manitoba Hydro for several years and was moved into head office, where after a year, decided to leave Hydro and he opened up a men’s wear store in Minnedosa in 1968. In 1971, he joined forces with Harvey Ebner and had stores in Minnedosa (Hainstock’s) and Neepawa. (Ebner’s). They sold their respective businesses in 1979 and Clay went to Swift Current, which was a much bigger market area and after four years, sold that business and got into the financial business with Richardson Greenshields. After three years, he went to Brandon to manage the branch there. He worked for Nesbitt Thompson (BMO) until he retired in 2000. At that time, Clay took semi-retirment when he bought The Agassiz Drive-Inn, working for half the year and spending the winters in Arizona. He married Linda Isenberg in 1970 and they have two children, Britt (38) and Lindsay (40). They also have four grandchildren, Otis (9), Levi (6), Linnea (8) and Miles (5). Both Clayton and Linda have joined a very competitive tennis league and he does a lot of golfing as well. Clayton’s retirement project was to take some art lessons and he hopes to get to his brother Bob’s level one day.  

Cecil Pittman lived in Minnedosa and Birnie prior to coming to Neepawa for Grade 2. After finishing school, Cecil moved to Winnipeg and worked for the Grain Exchange for a year, but returned to Neepawa and worked for Al Lytle at Fenwick’s, then as a parts manager at McDougall’s garage for 15 years. He married Maureen Montgomery in 1963 and they ran the Conucopia Restaurant for three years. He then went to work at the Liquor Commission and retired as the manager after 25 years there. Maureen passed away in 1993. Cecil played for the Intermediates/Natives and Old Timers for well over 20 years. In his retirement, he keeps busy with Christmas displays at various Neepawa businesses and decorates the Yellowhead Arena for the Remembrance Day celebration. Cecil also writes the “Looking backwards” column for the Neepawa Press and is the ‘go to guy’ for Neepawa’s history.