The town of Ogema, Saskatchewan is home to the Deep South Pioneer Museum, which houses over 30 historical buildings and artifacts from the hundred years of Ogema history; however, there was no specific home for all of the Ogema sports memorabilia. Wayne Peterson remedied this when he bought the old Ogema Masonic Lodge and converted it into the Ogema Sports Hall of Fame.
Wayne’s passion for sports started on the rinks and ball fields with his older brothers. “My story would be sitting on the bench while my two older brothers played, because we couldn’t play hockey or ball unless all three of us played on the same team. And I was the youngest so I rode a lot of pine, and that’s probably what gave me the motivation to try really hard.”
Years of hockey, baseball and track and field led to Peterson’s appreciation for the teams and athletes that call Ogema home.
In a town that the Mayor Carol Prentice describes as a “sports town,” the Ogema Sports Hall of Fame preserves decades worth of sports items, each with their own story.
Peterson says that the people of the town “had a lot of uniforms and pictures that people were starting to throw out.” So, when the town put the Ogema Masonic Lodge up for sale, he saw the perfect opportunity to purchase a permanent home for Ogema’s sports history.
The Hall of Fame has expanded from just a few pictures and jerseys to a full record of the individuals and teams that have called Ogema home for decades. The display cases that line the walls of the hall are filled with jerseys, pictures and equipment. “We built these cases with the plastic fronts so no one could just take stuff out of them. We charge $50 and people can put their stuff in it,” says Peterson. Loaning items to the Hall of Fame gives people the chance to display the athletic accomplishments of their families.
But if you ask around town who the most iconic athlete from Ogema is, you will always hear one name: Arleene.
Arleene Johnson Noga went to play in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1945. She played for the Fort Wayne Daisies and the Muskegon Lassies and even set a fielding record in the 1946 season. Johnson was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 1989. In Ogema, she has her own display case that holds pictures and items from her time playing sports.
The town that Arleene always called home continues to celebrate her legacy. “I think it gave a lot of people pride, and just showed that you could go further if you wanted to,” Peterson says.
Not only does the Hall of Fame educate people who don’t know about Ogema sports, it also lets people remember their own athletic achievements. Peterson says, “People come in and reminisce, look at old pictures where they played and their parents played.”
It gives the community the opportunity to retell and remember stories. Mayor Prentice says that it is important to remember the stories “because once the stories are gone, they’re gone.”
Peterson wants to give everyone a chance to be represented in Ogema sports history. “We’ve got one or two things from each person rather than… a bunch of one person — to try and keep it fair.”
Peterson wants to continue building up the Hall of Fame collection and expand it to include items from the surrounding towns as well.
Sports are a large part of the identity of Ogema, and whether they are stories of Arleene Johnson’s success, or any of the other characters that contributed to the decades of sports history in Ogema, these stories will continue to have a home at the Ogema Sports Hall of Fame.
Mayor Prentice says that as long as these stories continue to be told, they serve to inspire future Ogema athletes. “It’s important that the kids see it, that they can see that you can have fun and you can do things, and go a long way like Arleene did.”