Archie McDonald called him merely the greatest man since Eric Whitehead. Looking back, it’s hard not to agree.

Over its forty-year history, a few exceptional individuals have shepherded the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum through critical periods, content to direct unrecognized from behind the scenes. Peter Webster, who guided the Hall as General Manager-Curator and Executive Director from 1972-83, proved to be a worthy torch bearer of Whitehead’s Hall of Fame legacy.

If you didn’t know that Webster worked full-time hours at the Hall for over a decade earning the token salary of a solitary dollar a year, you do now. Webster spent many of those days travelling the province in a repainted, beat-up Ford van donated by Birks preaching the gospel of BC’s rich sporting history to young and old—‘Neglected Heritage’ he called it. The powerful slide presentation drew many a visitor to the old Hall location in the BC Pavilion at the PNE where memories of displays and the old Challenger map still burn brightly with many. Some visitors still ask about Peter today.

And for good reason as no other individual was more closely associated with the Hall for over a decade and many of his improvements and creations remain today.

With the permission of Mrs. Bennett herself, Webster created the W.A.C. Bennett Award in honour of the late premier. Under his guidance the Hall’s annual Banquet of Champions—or ‘dinner at Pete’s Place’ as some called it—became one of the largest in BC, often drawing over 1000 guests and raising necessary funds to keep the organization afloat.

On the museum end, he implemented a precise artifact cataloguing system and improved standards of display to better protect against extremes of light and temperature. By 1977, the “museum” designation was added to the BC Sports Hall of Fame moniker and the Hall became a leader in international organizations such as the Canadian Association of Sport Heritage and the International Association of Sports Museums and Halls of Fame (IASMHF).

Webster’s work at the Hall did not go unnoticed. Sports museums and halls of fame from North America and Australia sought his advice and support.

But think about this for a moment. Representatives of two of the great sporting nations in history, the Americans and the Aussies, approached Webster—a Canadian—to learn how to honour their finest athletes. It was thus no surprise in 1987, when IASMHF awarded Webster the W.R. Bill Schroeder Award for distinguished service.

Yet his involvement in sport was never confined to the hall of fame world. In the mid-1960s, he volunteered as the first full-time manager and public relations officer of Canada’s National Alpine Ski Team based out of Notre Dame University in Nelson. Later he served as the Canadian Olympic Association’s deputy team general manager at the 1975 Pan American Games in Mexico.

He worked to increase financial aid for amateur athletes in BC and Canada, chairing prominent scholarship committees, when not providing financial aid from his own pocket for a number of athletes, who couldn’t otherwise compete internationally.

Besides chairing events for three Grey Cups and the 1983 Soccerbowl, Webster was also a founding director of the Vancouver Whitecaps and served on the Vancouver Canucks board of directors for over twenty years. In 1995, Sport BC honoured Webster with the Darryl Thompson Award for over thirty years of dedicated service to the BC sport system.

After years of educating that the great athletes and builders of British Columbia sport were more than just sports heroes, but important pieces of our culture, it seems fitting that Webster now finds himself with a small niche amongst them of his own.

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.