Category Archives: 1970 – 1979

ROY HEWSON

Professional foot racing was a booming sport throughout the Georgian Bay 70 years ago but few people know that Collingwood once claimed a professional distance runner of national reputation.

His name was Roy Hewson and for a decade between 1906 and 1916 he ruled supreme in races over distance between three and five miles.

He was the postmaster at Batteau Settlement, just south of Collingwood, for many years. Hence his nickname “The Batteau”.

No person heard of him as a runner until he casually entered the five-mile race in the annual Domination Day Celebration at Collingwood.

Dressed in street clothes, he literally walked away from the field of twenty better than average runners of that era.

He was only fifteen years old at the time and he did not take the sport too seriously until two Stayner backers persuaded him to take a crack at professional running.

In the spring of 1909, he gave up his amateur standing and entered a race over a seven-mile course from Duntroon to the old Globe Hotel in Collingwood. He lost that race to Ed Haverson of New Lowell.

Haverson was a seasoned runner with two big time wins at the Canadian National Exhibition to his credit. On April 25th, 1909, Hewson beat Haverson soundly for a purse of three hundred dollars and a two hundred dollar side bet. Collingwood sportsmen Joe Ganley and Paddy Stone won ten thousand dollars on the race.

The skinny kid from Batteau went home with a silver cup in his arms and five hundred dollars in his pocket. Hewson won a dozen more important races and repeated his victory over Haverson in Barrie.

Three years later he won the three-mile Canadian title in Toronto but interest in professional running had died out. The purse was only fifty dollars. The Batteau hung up his running shoes and went back to the post office. Twenty-nine years ago he collapsed and died outside on the street after attending a hockey match in the Collingwood Arena.

JAMES WOOLNER

Captain Jim Woolner was born in Collingwood in 1878.

A Master of the steel blades at the turn of the century Captain Jim was a household word and every kid in the Georgian Bay district tried to emulate his style at one time or another.

He had his first pair of speed skates shortly after he had his first pair of boots and he was still skating the year he died in 1938.

For over two decades Jim beat every skater that cared to take up the challenge, and he did it with the confident ease that was his stock in trade.

Unfortunately, Woolner was never attached to an organized skating club, and, as a result, many of his best records are not officially recorded.

In his heyday, Captain Woolner defeated such great Canadian speed artists as Toronto’s Harley Davidson, the fiery Stubby Graham of Fergus, Canadian mile champion, Len Forrester of Fergus.

The crowning point of his career was his victory over Davidson in Collingwood’s old Pine Street Rink in March, 1900.

Davidson had beaten the best skaters of the era at the International Speed Carnival atMontrealand up until that time he had never even heard of Woolner. But Davidson accepted Jim’s challenge and the match race was staged for a cash prize of two thousand dollars-winner takes all.

As it turned out, the race was a walk away for Woolner and an embarrassing memory for the highly touted Davidson.

The following winter, Stubby Graham challenged Woolner to a race in Meaford. Graham was not only beaten by Jim but he was nosed out of second place by another Collingwood skater, Doug McLeod.

Tom Eck, a well known sports promoter and a former trainer of heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson, arranged a five-mile race between Woolner and Len Forrester, Then the Canadian champion at five-mile distance.

With ten thousand dollars in bets riding on the outcome of the race, Captain Jim covered the five miles in fourteen minutes and forty seconds, and beat the Fergus star by four laps.

The gamblers refused to bet against him and limited their wagers to the number of laps Woolner would finish ahead of the runner-up.

He won 3 races in Toronto on one Saturday afternoon and was so far ahead in the last race he turned around and skated backwards a full lap from the finish line.

Two years later, the Captain’s great career came to an end under shady circumstances in a return match with Forrester in Fergus.

He won the first heat easily but fell and broke his leg half-way through the second heat. A quick check revealed that someone had laid a fine wire across the ice in Woolner’s Lane.

Jim Woolner never skated again in competition. He became one of the most colourful skippers on theGreat Lakes. Three weeks before his untimely death, he thrilled a big crowd at the annual Collingwood Ice Carnival at the Park Rink. When he made a few graceful turns around the ice and was given a standing ovation.

On March 15th, 1938, Captain Jim Woolner died in a motor crash on Paddy Dunn’s Hill, just north of Barrie. He was returning from a hockey game in Toronto. He was just fifty-seven.

NORM BURMISTER

Norm Burmister was the only Collingwood born goalkeeper to make the professional ranks. He was born too soon. In this era of expansion, Normie would have no trouble catching a spot in the N.H.L.

He learned his trade on the West End mill ponds and made the Collingwood Junior O.H.A. club at the age of fifteen. One of his team mates was Reg Noble, Collingwood’s contribution to the National Hockey Hall of Fame. Another was Sailor Jim Herberts, one of the most colourful players with Boston, Toronto and Detroit, in the days when colourful hockey players were abundant.

He performed in the nets for several Collingwood junior teams until his career was interrupted by World War 1. He served in the Canadian Army for three years and on his return hitched up with intermediate and senior teams in Welland and Niagara Falls.In 1926 he turned in professional with the New York Americans and was sent to New Haven for seasoning.

His big chance came in 1928 when he was slated to move up into the “Big Time” with the Amerks. But cruel  fate stepped in and deprived Normie of his one big opportunity. Joe Ironstone was a hold-out and refused to come to terms with Big Bill Dyer, the racketeer owner of the New York team. Dyer immediately sent for Burmister, who was in training camp at Niagara Falls. On the day before he was to report, Normie broke his shoulder in a pick-up softball game. He never got the chance again and finished his professional career with New Haven in the Can-American League and Guelph and Stratford in the old Can-Pro League.

While with New Haven, he played with two other Collingwood boys, his brother Roy and Abbie Hughes. Roy and Abbie both made the N.H.L. with New York Americans.

KATHERINE WEIDER CANNING

Kathy Weider, like her twin sister, Anna, started skiing at the age of four. She had the marks of a champion before she reached the age of ten and it came as no surprise when she captured the Southern Ontario Junior Alpine Combined title in 1959 and followed up this success with a second place in Canadian Alpine Combined, second in the Downhill and third in the Slalom at the Osler Bluffs the same year.
It was a banner year for Kathy in 1960 as this record attests: First in the Junior Ontario Alpine Combined and a first in the Slalom and second in the Downhill.Just two weeks later she picked up a bushel of silver trophies in the All- Ontario Junior Championships: First in the Alpine Combined, First in the three-way combined (Alpine and Cross Country); First in the Downhill and second in the Slalom. Then came the Canadian Junior championships: First in the Alpine and Cross Country, third in the Alpine Combined, third in the Slalom and she was a member of winning Ontario Ladies Team. That year the Canadian Championships were held in Thetford Mines, Quebec.
IN 1961, Kathy added to her laurels with wins in the Southern Ontario Alpine Combined and Slalom and a second place finish in the Downhill.
In 1962 she made the Canadian National “B” team and won the Quebec Senior Downhill title.
In 1963 Kathy competed in the Middlebury College Bowl in Connecticut and placed third in the Alpine Combined and the Slalom.
1964 was a season of victories: Three first place finishes in the senior Alpine Combined and Slalom and Downhill in the Quebec Senior meet. Three more wins in the Quebec Senior Zone “A” Divisional (Alpine, Slalom and Downhill). It must be pointed out that in the years 1962-63-64 Kathy competed under the colours of the University of McGill in Quebec.
She finished off the 1964 season with sensational slalom victories at Mount Plante and Val Dord.
The following year (1965) her major win came in the feature Slalom in the French Zone Championships at Chambousse, France. At that time she was competing under the colours of the University of Grenoble.
In 1966 Kathy won the Southern Ontario Senior Ladies’ Alpine Combined. She was invited to represent the Canadian-American Circuit.

 

ANNA WEIDER MARIK

The induction of Anna Weider Marik into Collingwood’s Sports Hall of Fame will probably complete a record we may never see equaled.Four members of one family in a Sports Hall of Fame-Helen Weider McGillivray, Kathy Weider Canning, Anna Weider Marik and their illustrious father, the pioneer of skiing in Collingwood , the late Jozo Weider.

Like her twin sister, Anna also donned skis just about the same time she learned to walk. Her first success came in 1959 in the Southern Ontario Junior Alpine Combined. 1960 was probably her most successful season: First in the All-Ontario Junior Slalom and second place finishes in the Alpine Combined and the Downhill. In the same year, four medals in the Canadian Junior Championships- a first in the Downhill, Silver medals in the Combined Alpine and Slalom and a member of the championship – Ontario Ladies Team.She topped off this highly successful season with a pair of firsts in the three-day combined and the Slalom and two silvers in the Downhill and Alpine Combined at the Canadian at the Canadian Junior Championships held at Jasper, Alberta.

In 1961 Anna completed in the Southern Ontario Junior championships and won a first in the Downhill and two second place finishes in the Slalom and Combined Alpine.

In 1962, her last season in major competition, Anna was named to the Canadian National Ski team.

HELEN WEIDER McGILLIVRAY

Many Collingwood skiers will follow in the footsteps of this little girl but Helen was the first local skier to win national honours. She was the first competitive skier to enter the Hall of Fame. Helen learned to ski about the same time she learned to walk. She was competing in recognized ski meets at the age of ten and was runner-up in the Ontario Junior Girls’ meet in Huntsville. Helen raised the eyes of the experts in 1952 when she won the Southern Ontario Zone Junior Championship and the little girl from the brow of the blue hills was on her way.

In 1953, Helen, aged 14, finished fourth in the Junior Canadian championships at Fort William. In 1954 she won the Junior title at Port Arthur and repeated the performance again in 1955 by making a clean sweep of the slalom, downhill and alpine events. Her educational ambitions took precedence over skiing for almost two years but she returned to major ski competition in 1957 to win the Gabey Pleau Trophy, emblematic of combined skiing, Helen had given freely of her and talents in the promotion and development of young up and coming skiers.

 

JOHN “BUCK” WALTON

They called him a hockey policeman and there never was a better one than Buck Walton.

Never a fancy skater or a fast one, Buck made up for his lack of speed and finesse with his courage, stick handling and dogged determination.

He played on three Collingwood O.H.A. Intermediate “A” championship teams in 1918, 1919 and 1920 and on the runner-up team in 1921.

When the going got tough and the opposition started carrying the sticks high, the call went out for the “policeman”.

He never spared himself and he never made excuses. If he took a butt end in the corner there was no squawking from the “Buckaroo”

He just lowered his head and hit with everything he had. Buck took many beating but he handed out some pretty good lumps himself. No fast skating forward ever came in on Walton with his head down-at least not after the first time.

I remember the night, fifty-four years ago, when the Buckaroo took a bad on big Dick Simple, the great Midland star of that era. Dick stepped deftly aside and Walton took a Barnum and Bailey dive into the end boards. The crowd groaned as his head and shoulders crunched against the planks and his body slipped down to the ice. The legendary Rabbi Fryer skated over to the fans and called out “Get a dust pan and a broom!” Buck was on his feet in a minute, skated over to the bench, took a long drink of water, or whatever, and joined the affray again. Two minutes later he went from end to end and scored.

Back in 1915, he scored a winning goal in Hamilton that put Collingwood into the O.H.A. semi-finals round. He had been knocked out twice during the game. For twenty years, Buck Walton gave everything he had for Collingwood junior and intermediate teams.

Buck and Rabbi Fryer were lured out of retirement in the thirties and turned out to be bad decision.

In a play-off game between Collingwood and Camp Borden for the Georgian Baygroup title, referee Ernie Wortley fingered buck for five cheap penalties and the Buck lost his cool. He dropped his stick and went for the official, the first time he did that in his life. Fryer came to Buck’s assistance, although he really didn’t=t need it, and both players were suspended indefinitely by the O.H.A.

Two years later, Fryer made application and was re-instated. Buck refused to go hat in hand and said. “Let them keep the O.H.A. it’s only a pink tea party now, anyway. Next thing you know they’ll penalize you for spitting out your own teeth”.

He never was re-instated and I was always sorry about that. I tried to persuade him to apply for re-instatement just so he could retire with a clean slate. It was no dice. Buck was just too proud and that application for re-instatement sounded too much like begging to suit the Buck.

 

REG WESTBROOKE

Reg Westbrooke was around the Collingwood sports scene so long his presence was almost taken for granted.

Fourteen seasons as the first string goalkeeper for the Collingwood Shipbuilders, A permanent first baseman on local baseball and softball teams, and, all sports scene as sports editor of the Enterprise-Bulletin.

After World War 11, Reg and a few other returning veterans resurrected the Collingwood Softball League and a merry six-year span was whetted but prolific newspaper coverage.

And while he was beating the drums for the softball loop, Reg was walking off with three batting titles. One season his average was an unbelievable .615.

He was a member of Collingwood at the age of twelve, played in the Junior Town League, the Junior O.H.A. team for three years and moved up into the Intermediate ranks in 1938.

Although still of junior age, Reg stayed with the Intermediates and was the back-up goalie for the late Tony Nobes when the Shipbuilders won the O.H.A. Intermediate “A” championship in 1939.

Two more seasons as the regular goalie for the Shipbuilders and Reg’s career was interrupted in 1941 when he enlisted in the armed forces.

The Army team pulled some strings inTorontoand he landed in a Senior League with a team of professionals, playing in theMapleLeafGardensbefore crowds of ten thousand and more.

Another two years of army service followed and Reg found himself playing on a couple of strong Camp Borden teams, one a championship club that was rated with the best amateur hockey teams ever assembled.

After the war, Westbrooke returned home and went in between the goal posts for the Shipbuilders. He became a fixture in this position for the next nine years from 1945 to 1954.

A couple of times, herald aspirants came on the scene but Reg always ended up as the first string goalie. For a good many seasons he operated without benefit of a back-up goalie.

He played goal for two O.H.A. title winning teams under the leadership of Eddie Bush, in 1951 and 1952 and on the 1953 finalists.

A rather unique experience over his ten post-war Shipbuilders seasons was his selection was made by the fans, another time by the club executive and a third time by his fellow players.

His hockey swan song came in March, 1954. Appreciative fans gave him a testimonial presentation when he hung up the pads and moved to Creemore to pursue a career in the newspaper publishing field. Reg married a Collingwood girl, Beverly Mirrlees, and had three children. One son, Don, has just completed a long professional hockey career.

 

WERNER ZOTTER

Werner Zotter was born to ski in his native Austria, a country famous for champions down through the ages.

He came to Canada with his parents at the age of nine in 1953 and it was not long before he was recognized as an up and comer.

Werner practically lived on the slopes of theBlueMountainbut he found time to launch a modest minor hockey career. He was a better than average goalkeeper on several teams in the Collingwood Minor Hockey system.

In 1959, he won the Southern Ontario Zone championship, repeated in 1960 and won the Canadian title the same season.

A year later, Werner won the Zone title again and annexed the Alpine and Nordic titles with the Ontario Combined.

The same year he captured Junior championship and in 1962 was crowned the Ontario Senior Champion.

His greatest season was in 1966 when he won theOntariofour-way title (Downhill, Alpine, Jumping and Slalom), the Canadian Junior Alpine and his crowing achievement, the Wilkinson Sword Speed Trails atGeorgianPeaks. On that day he averaged eighty-four miles per hour in three downhill runs. It was a record that has never been broken to this day.

He won several competitions in theUnited Statesin 1967 and 68 and came back to win the Southern Ontario Alpine in 1969.

The next two years he coached Canadian Junior team in Trail and later was a ski instructor and coach at Broadmore, Colorado.

Werner spend  many summers in California but returned to Blue Mountain to work with his father in Zotter’s Ski Shop.

JOZO WEIDER

The name “Weider” will live as long as the Blue Mountain because that escarpment west of Collingwood will remain as a natural monument to Jozo Weider.

A former European ski champion, Jozo came to Collingwood from his native Czechoslovakia in 1940 as a ski instructor and manager of an area preliminarily developed but he Collingwood Ski Club.

He remained to mould this raw escarpment into a ski empire that is still growing
and will continue to grow with the passing years.

Bestowed with a remarkable sense of vision, perseverance in the face of adversity and
narrow minded opposition, and a rugged physique, he literally stamped
Collingwood on the map as a ski symbol.

Jozo Weider brought international skiing to Collingwood, and he constructed the facilities which made the Collingwood ski area equal in challenges to areas which had far greater natural potential.

In the succeeding years we hope to have many Collingwood skiers in our Sports Hall
of Fame but the name Jozo Weider was the first.

Jozo Weider – builder, promoter, athlete, artist, patron of the arts and dedicated citizen-he deserves a special niche in Collingwood Sports Hall of Fame.