The hockey career of the colourful Dutch Wheeler covers a quarter of a century and his natural ability can be compared with any of the great players spawned in his ” hockey hot bed” that is Collingwood.
Learning to skate the day after he took his first walking step, Dutch was starring for the old Central Tigers in the Junior Town League at the age of then, and before he turned fourteen he earned himself a spot on the 1934 Collingwood O.H.A. Junior “A” division. Collingwood’s Charlie Sandell also made the team.
Dutch starred with the Biltmores for three years in 1938, 39 and 40.
From Guelph, he went to the Barrie Colts with another Collingwood Boy, Robbie Sandell.
He enlisted with the Canadian Army in 1941 and played out of Newmarket for three years with the Canadian Army team. That team won the interservice championship against the Royal Canadian Navy in 1944. His team mates included Bill Taylor, Bep Guindon, Check Shannon, Bill McComb and Johnny Callaghan.
It was back to Collingwood after the war in 1946. He performed for the Shipbuilders in the O.H.A. Intermediate “A” series for two years and then hopped over to Midland for one season in 1948.
The new Community Arena was built in 1948 and Dutch couldn’t stay away from the old home town with such ice facilities so close to his own back door.
About that time Eddie Bush was finishing off a great professional career and when he came back home as a coach-player, Dutch Wheeler definitely figured in Bush’s plans.
It could be said that Eddie built one of Collingwood’s greatest Intermediate teams around himself and the Dutchman.
Jack Wheeler was a key cog on a team that won two back to back O.H.A. Intermediate “A” championships in 1951 and 1952 and went to the finals against the Simcoe Gunners in 1953
Dutch and Bush both packed it up as active players the follow year.
Hockey was not his only athletic endeavour. He played a pretty fair softball game and was a member of the Trott’s Pros, twice winners of the Collingwood Senior Softball League in the fifties.
His lacrosse career lasted one season when a group tried to revive the game back in 1936.
An eight-team junior group was formed and all went well with the Collingwood team until they met the power packed Orillia club, seven times winners of the Minto Cup.
That ill fated evening in Orillia, Jack Wheeler startled the Orillia fans when he took a pass from Butch Thomson and scored ten seconds after the face-off. Then the Minto Cup holders went to work and scored thirty-two goals. The final score-32-1. That was the end of short lived Georgian Bay Junior Lacrosse League. There hasn’t been a lacrosse game played in Collingwood since.
Dutch continued his interest in hockey in an executive position with the Collingwood Senior Club during the late fifties and early sixties. This man truly earned his niche in Collingwood’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Rusty Butters was another rugged East Enders who learned his basic hockey on Legatt’s Mill Pond.
His hockey career spanned almost two decades but his long athletic career was not confined to the winter pastime.
Rusty was an exceptionally good football player-good enough to be offered a tryout with the Balmy Beach O.R.F.U. senior team back in 1930. He didn’t accept the offer but instead went to work in the Enterprise-Bulletin. It might have been the biggest mistake of his life. Several big league football coaches were of the opinion that the big outside winger could have made it easily.
His hockey career started with the East End junior and seniors in the old Collingwood Town Hockey League and he graduated to the local O.H.A. junior entry.
For the next fifteen years he made his presence known as a hard hitting, rock ribbed defense player with Collingwood Intermediate and Senior clubs. Rusty and the late Dutch Cain, the King of the body checkers, struck terror into the hearts of opposing forwards for a number of years. Dutch dropped them like stones with his wizardly body checks and the two hundred-pound Rusty crunched then into or over the boards.
Butters had the privilege of playing with such Collingwood hockey greats as Rabbi Fryer, Buck Walton, Jack Burns and Wink Foulis, when this formidable quartette was finishing off their careers in the thirties.
His one and only championship medal came in 1939 when the Collingwood Shipbuilders won the O.H.A. Intermediate “A” title.
Rusty played his last hockey game in Kingston in 1947 when the Shipbuilders were eliminated in the O.H.A. Senior “B” semi-finals round.
At the urging of Red Farrel, he took to refereeing in the O.H.A. and wound up by handling a hundred or so games in the Junior, Intermediate and Senior series before hanging up his skates in 1955.
His track and field career was short but despite his two hundred-pounds stocky stature, Rusty could step the 100 yard sprint in eleven seconds.
A good swimmer and a cracking fine diver, he won the annual Collingwood Aquatic Meet senior diving title three years in a row in the early thirties.
A hard hitting second baseman in the old Collingwood Senior Softball League, hit fifteen home runs in 1931 to help Huck Caesar’s Beavers win the championship. He had a short fling at lacrosse in 1937 on Collingwood’s last lacrosse team.
Pauline worked tirelessly with younger children at the club, and helped produce the first skating carnival in Collingwood. Skating took Pauline to many competitions and carnivals across Ontario in the years to follow, and in 1954 she placed fourth in the Northern Ontario Figure skating championships held in Sundridge.
As a professional, Pauline skated in many carnivals in the area, with a highlight of her professional career being her skating with the Royal Skating School where she received recognition from the Canadian Figure Skating Association as a silver medalist with five silver dances.
Today, Pauline in Mrs. Doug Simms (a sportsman, hunter and wildlife columnist originally form Collingwood). The couple are retired and live in Truro, Nova Scotia.
Pauline contributed as a Builder in figure skating for this area, with her efforts to organize figure skating clubs and carnivals.
Marcella was a recognized Track and Field Champion in 1946, 1947 & 1948 at meets in Kitchener-Waterloo, Owen Sound, Orillia. In 1947, she was the C.C.I. Girls Champion while in 1946 & 47 Marcella was 1st in C.C.I.’s inaugeral alpine ski meet. In 1947, 1948 & 1949 Marcella was combined champion at meets in Huntsville, Own Sound & Collingwood.
Marcella was a graduate of Blue Mountain’s first Ski Patrol class in 1949. When not patrolling the hills to assist others, Marcella was crowned Collingwood Ski Club Senior Ladies Champion in 1963 & 1964.
From 1942 to 1944 Izora played for the Clyde Aircraft sponsored baseball team. They played in a league with Thornbury, Wyeville, Barrie and Base Borden. Izora was the teams number one pitcher as well as an excellent outfielder.
In 1945 Clyde Aircraft closed and Izora was recruited by the Stratford Krochler Team. The Krochlers played in the Provincial Women’s Softball Association League. The other teams were from Brantford, Preston, Hespler, Waterloo, Kitchener and London.
Izora was a much valued member of the team. Her personality and team value were always held in high regard by her teammates as well as management. During Izors’s term with the Krochler’s they won five Provincial Championships in 1946, 49, 50, 53, and 55. Izora was very versatile, playing both infield and outfield, but was very outstanding as a right fielder.
Izora moved to Stratford with her husband Stan where they raised their son who served in the Canadian Navy.