For the love of the game

Photo by Tammy Fancy

Lots of Nova Scotians love hockey, but Mark Innes is building a hockey shrine, one piece at a time.  By day, Mark Innes is a planner with HRM; the rest of the time, he’s assembling one of the city’s most impressive collections of hockey memorabilia. It began 20 years ago. “I was 5 when my parents bought my first set of hockey cards.”

Montreal Canadien Mike McPhee provided his first autograph. “My dad got me my first autograph while working at a bar,” Innes recalls. “I didn’t set out to be a collector; it just morphed into that.”

Like many kids, he and his friends spent their time playing and watching hockey, buying and trading hockey cards. Innes has a section of his collection called Nostalgia Things. “I remember sitting on the floor of the grocery store when Kraft Dinner had their collector cards looking at the back to see what ones I didn’t have,” Innes smiles. “It’s my way of honouring the game.”

Photo by Tammy Fancy

He devotes a room, with LED lighting, to the collection. It took a year to set up and he’s constantly tinkering with it. “It’s my quiet, happy place,” he says. “If I have a tough day at work, I can get lost in my collection.” He sometimes invites co-workers and their families to view his collection. “I like sharing it with people that appreciate it.”

While he celebrates hockey in general, one team is heavily represented. “Montreal is my team,” he says. “Patrick Roy is my guy.” His favourite piece is a game-worn shirt that Roy gave him after they started chatting during an autograph session. “He’s a collector as well and we talked about his car collection.”

Innes feels a kinship with other collectors. “It doesn’t matter what the collection is, small or large,” he explains. “[I like] hearing about how they acquired their pieces, what it means to them and seeing their passion.”

Innes focuses on Canadiens items, vintage table-top games, and rarer items such as store displays. “Valuable items are not my focus,” he says, “only items that are of interest to me and I am passionate about. I have no interest in selling right now. It means more to me personally.”   

See more of the collection here.

This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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