A statue honouring Mr. Hockey in his home province will now serve as a final resting place.
The cremated remains of Gordie Howe and his wife, Colleen, will be interred in the base of his statue outside SaskTel Centre. They will be encased in a special concrete vessel with a commemorative plaque on top to protect them.
The move comes at the request of the Howe family.
“It’s something we wanted to do. I know it was one of (Gordie’s) wishes,” Howe’s son, Marty, said in a phone call Thursday.
Marty said the family approached Steve Hogle, president of the Saskatoon Blades, to coordinate the memorial for Howe.
“He loved going (to Saskatoon), it was just unfortunate it was so far away and he didn’t get there as often later in life,” Marty said.
Some of Howe’s ashes will be spread in Michigan’s Bear Lake, where a similar service was held for Colleen after her death in 2009.
“His favourite spots are going to have my mom and dad, and Saskatoon was one of them,” Marty said, adding his father would take them on tours of the city to show all the places he once frequented.
In a news release Thursday, the city said in order to move ahead with the interment, it must apply to the province and ask the statue and a small portion of adjacent area be declared a cemetery.
City council approved a resolution on this at its regular business meeting Thursday afternoon.
Coun. Troy Davies asked whether the statue would be moved if a new downtown arena is built. City staff said that’s up to the Howe family.
A renowned hockey legend, Howe died June 10, 2016.
While he was born in Floral, Saskatchewan, Howe grew up and spent 16 years in Saskatoon before embarking on a record-setting hockey career in the United States.
Numerous facilities in Saskatoon have been named after Howe, with plans underway to name the South Circle Drive Bridge in his honour.
The Saskatoon Blades and SaskTel Centre are planning other activities for Sept. 25 to pay tribute to Howe and coincide with the statue commemoration.
Marty said the family will be in the city for the aptly-named Gordie Howe night.
SaskTel Centre will cover the costs of the project up to a maximum of $6,000, and the Saskatoon Blades will cover any costs over and above that amount.
If the ashes are ever moved, the city will have to ask the province to rescind the cemetery designation at the statue location.