When the NWT Track and Field Championships came to Hay River in 1991, Peter Osted felt something special was needed to light a flame during the opening ceremonies.
“I thought it would be a good idea to have torches,” he recalled, noting it would be like at the Olympics or other major sports events.
So he designed torches, and built them with the help of a plumbing company.
That origin is described by a plaque on a holder for the torches. It reads: “Designed by P.F. Osted; Made by Hiebert’s Plumbing and Heating Ltd. and P.F. Osted.”
Osted said he talked to Vince Hiebert about making the torches.
“I convinced him we could do this,” he recalled. “I walked over and found all the parts on his parts shelf. They’re standard plumbing parts.”
The parts were soldered together to create the torches, which are fuelled by Varsol and methyl hydrate alcohol.
“Methyl hydrate to keep them burning and the Varsol to make a dirty smoke,” Osted explained.
The torch only has to burn for about five minutes or so, enough time to light a main flame.
“An opening ceremony has to have a focus of sorts,” said O
The base of the holder for the torches also contains plaques for the names of the torchbearers each year.
“The names that are on here would surprise you,” said Osted.
Looking over the plaques, he noted the names include: Sharon Firth, Skylar Horton; Bob White; Brendan Green; Guy Turvey; Jill Taylor; and Patti-Kay Hamilton, to name a few.
Osted still has to add the names of the torchbearers for the past three years.
There are so many names that Osted’s grandson had to add a larger base to the torch holder, which is somewhat similar to how the Stanley Cup has grown over the years.
Osted keeps the torches at his home.
“I keep it here so it doesn’t get lost,” he said. “For a number of years it was at Harry Camsell School because I taught there. It was sitting in the office. I could keep my eye on it, because things get ‘borrowed’.”
Osted said he will eventually turn over the torches to someone else to preserve the tradition.