The club left the naming of the team up the the public over a five-week Facebook campaign. This week, board chairman Bill Clarke announced the results, which met with unanimous support from the board of directors, according to a news release.
Clarke said in his original prediction, the team was going to be called the Spirit Eagles.
“Eagles hockey has been known in this region since the first Espanola Jr. A team was established in 1962,” he said. “After speaking to many local residents, I was sure the spirit of the eagles would live on.”
But all changed with the community vote. Results have shown that with the naming of this team, the community is looking for change and a new beginning, the club said in the news release.
“The new name shares the same new vision for the hockey club and our community and it’s perfect,” Clarke said.
He said as the town begins building a new foundation for a Jr. A hockey team to represent the area for many years to follow, it is fitting the team name is derived from the foundation that established the region and the various area communities.
For thousands of years, by First Nation peoples and later in the 19th century by fur traders, the rivers of the Espanola area were used as important transportation corridors and later used to transport timber from logging camps to sawmills on the Great Lakes, as well as logs from northern forests to the paper mill in Espanola.
The Aux Sable River and Vermillion River were once used as transportation routes to the region, said the club. From the north, the Spanish River flows 338 km throughout the communities; from the east, the French River flows 110 km into the mouth of Georgian Bay. This area was navigated by canoe, using the lakes and rivers that still shape the landscape today.
Local historian Rosalind Russell said in the news release “following the disastrous spill of 1989 that destroyed the Spanish River, local communities worked diligently over the years to reintroduce various fish species and promote the health of this great river. The same rejuvenated spirited will be rekindled again in Espanola with our area Jr. hockey team.”
“We are very proud to wear the new name as a tribute to those before us who helped shape the culture and the communities of this beautiful LaCloche Manitoulin Region,” said head coach Tom McCarthy. “There is so much history here in the area of Manitoulin, North Shore, Spanish River, the many First Nation communities and the Town of Espanola. where we now live, work and enjoy a very unique lifestyle.
“We are very lucky to represent our area forefathers where this team will live on with the tradition of our predecessors and follow their lead to work hard everyday to be the best student-athletes and players that we can be while representing Espanola and the entire surrounding area. We will stride each day to become an organization that the entire area can be proud of, on and off the ice, while proudly representing the peoples of the area as the Espanola Rivermen of the Canadian Junior Hockey League.”