Local hockey legend Floyd “Butch” Martin is returning home to Floradale next week for a book signing at Bonnie Lou’s Café.
Martin will join author Del Gingrich at the quaint eatery on the corner of Floradale and Ruggles roads, just a couple doors down from Martin’s childhood home, on February 20 from 2-4 p.m.
The event is a celebration of Gingrich’s book, Butch Martin: From the Dam to the World Stage, which chronicles the unlikely story of “how a Mennonite boy who grew up playing shinny on the Floradale dam returned decades later carrying multiple Olympic medals.”
And Bonnie Lou’s Café is the perfect setting, Gingrich said.
“Bonnie Lou’s is located in the building formerly owned and operated by four generations of the Ruggle family who ran a general store and post office. Butch was a regular customer at Ruggles from his early childhood to adulthood. His family home was just two doors along Ruggles Road. After his marriage, he and his wife lived in a second-floor apartment just next door to the general store. Butch is looking forward to reconnecting with people in the area, some of whom he hasn’t seen for many years.”
Martin had a prolific hockey career, starting in Junior with the Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters before winning back-to-back Olympic medals at the 1956 (bronze at Squaw Valley) and 1960 (silver at Cortina) winter games as a member of the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen.
After choosing family life with wife “PeeWee” over a NHL contract with the New York Rangers, Martin went on to further his amateur hockey credentials in the ’60s with the Galt Terriers, the Johnstown Jets and the Kitchener Rangers.
Martin, who now resides in New Hamburg, is excited to visit his hometown.
“There have been a lot of people who have commented on the book saying they would love to see Butch again,” Gingrich said. “This will give Butch the chance to have a reunion of sorts with friends from the area.”
And there’s been significant interest in the community for this event, Gingrich added.
“Bonnie Lou had been approached by a number of people who thought this would be a great idea and so we decided to make it happen.”
In the book, Gingrich leads the chapter “I’ve only just begun” with a section on Bonnie Lou’s Café.
“In 2014, Bonnie Lou Martin is the most celebrated person in the tiny village of Floradale. She is the always smiling and welcoming owner of Bonnie Lou’s Lunch at the corner of Ruggles Road and Floradale Road. In 2009 she bought the place from the Ruggle family. They’d been owners of Ruggle’s General Store since the late 1800s. Bonnie Lou left some major features of the former store pretty well untouched. That enhanced its unique ambience and kept memories of the village’s past alive.”
Next Friday those memories are sure to be in abundance.