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NormNorm Smits stands with a copy of Bobby Orr's autobiography, part of his Boston Bruins collection that currently resides at his place of business, Norm's Fast Lube and Auto Detailing.

Hub Staff

Local hockey fan Norm Smits has been following his favourite NHL team, the Boston Bruins, since he was a child. Having amassed an extensive collection of the club’s memorabilia over the years, Smits has the assemblage on display at his Port Elgin business, Norm’s Fast Lube and Auto Detailing, so that not only he can enjoy it but hockey fans are welcome to come in and take a look.

Everything from shirts, sticks and pucks, books and mugs to posters, stamps, cards and toys are just a sampling of the items in Smits' collection with a number of the pieces authentically signed by Bruins players. “The idea was to display it so everyone had a chance to see it and appreciate it,” explained Smits at his auto shop on Highway 21 at the north end of Port Elgin.

Smits said he became a Bruins fan at the age of 8 or 9 with former Bruin and Canadian hockey legend Bobby Orr being a significant factor. “He was just starting out then. It was just when he was coming into the league,” said Smits. “There was that and the fact that I grew up in Sydney, Nova Scotia and out there we hardly ever saw Toronto...we only saw Montreal and Boston regularly and of course with Bobby coming into being he made the Bruins what they were.”

Although he has watched and read all about Bobby Orr's life and history, Smits said he has never had an opportunity to meet the hockey legend. “I don't know what I would do if I did,” he said.

Smits still has items that he had collected as a boy although much of his childhood collection was lost to the trash when he left home, his mom not realizing he would still want them. Among the surviving pieces was a small hockey stick. “I got that hockey stick out of a box of cereal and then I had a scrap book with every newspaper article that mentioned Bobby Orr's name,” he said.

It was after Smits bought his business, just over three years ago, that his collection really started to grow. “There was a few things I had at home... and when I took over the shop I brought some of it in here and then it just progressively grew,” he said.

With items from miniature mugs found in a bubble gum machine to signed shirts and hockey sticks, Smits said that he has acquired the items in different ways, with a story behind each piece. “I tell people each item becomes part of history, part of the story so it's not just I saw this in a store and bought it, it's how it got here.”

As well as seeking out memorabilia himself, Smits said he has been given a variety of items from friends, suppliers, customers and even complete strangers after they became aware of his collection.

Everything in the collection has its own place on the walls at Norm's. “We were surprised how well it all fit together,” said Smits. “So far everything we've found or gotten we've always found a spot for it. It was like it was meant to be,” he added.

Smits said that everyone is welcome to stop by and take a look at the collection. “Even if you're not a Bruins fan you've got to admire the way it all lays in place,” he said. “One guy said I've never seen so much Bruin stuff in one place and then I get other guys who, while I'm doing the oil change, they take pictures and send them to their friends who they know are Bruins fans. You see there's a lot of Bruins fans you don’t know about. Their basement is full of stuff but nobody can see it and that's just a shame.”

When asked what his plans were if his collection continued to grow at the rate it has over the past few years, Smits replied, “get a bigger shop. I don’t care about the oil change side of it, I just need a bigger shop for my Bruins,” joked Smits.

CollectionThe collection includes a multitude of items big and small, several that have been signed by Bruins players.

CabinetSmaller items in the collection are displayed in a glass cabinet on the wall of Smits' business.

Collection2Black and yellow and Bobby Orr are a common theme on the walls at Norm's Fast Lube and Auto Detailing.

TruckA miniature 1947 Boston Bruins Dodge pickup truck with an equipment bag and hockey stick in the back is Smits’ favourite piece.

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Oct 19 Centennaires