Given that Father’s Day 2020 will take on a different look due to the current social distancing and travel challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought I would take this opportunity to celebrate the legacy of sport that many fathers and grandfathers have passed along to the next generation.
Although it has been 16 years since my dad passed away, a part of him is always with me every time I watch a sporting event. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to take in a variety of memorable moments with him ranging from the 1976 Olympics in Montreal to numerous Toronto Argonaut games at the old Exhibition Place Stadium and Leaf games at Maple Leaf Gardens, not to mention the numerous golf tournaments and baseball games we would watch together on television.
While my dad, like myself, did not participate in sports at a highly competitive level, there are a number of families in which parents did not just pass along a passion to watch sports, but also the desire to excel in them.
As I went through the list of athletes, builders and team members who have been inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame dating back to 1982 I was pleasantly surprised to discover that multiple fathers and grandfathers share space in the hallowed halls with sons, daughters and grandchildren.
Two families share the distinction of having three generations of Hall of Famers. The Wilson family connection began with grandfather Gordon (Phat) Wilson,who starred with Port Arthur’s first three Allan Cup winning teams during the 1920s and is one of very few amateur players to ever earn entry into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Wilson’s namesake, Gordon (Junior) Wilson, carried on his father’s success in hockey going on to enjoy some time in the pro ranks and his grandson Glen added another Allan Cup to the family legacy while tending goal for the 1985 Thunder Bay Twins.
All three generations of Wilsons were also standouts on the baseball diamond, with Glen serving as a member of the 1975 Port Arthur Continentals Major Little League team that claimed a Canadian title.
A Dryden family Hall of Fame connection started with builder of sport Hiroshi (Rush) Mitani, who is credited with introducing judo to his community with his son Lawrence following in his footsteps by excelling on the mats.
Rush’s grandson Darcy Mitani earned his spot in the hall of fame as a member of the 1991-92 Thunder Bay Flyers Centennial Cup championship squad.
The majority of grandfather and grandchild connections relate to hockey with Norm Wright bringing home the Allan Cup with the 1939 Port Arthur Bearcats and Jason Wright claiming a Centennial Cup with the 1991-92 Thunder Bay Flyers.
Darrell Clarke, a long-time assistant trainer for the Allan Cup-winning Thunder Bay Twins carried on the tradition of excellence established by his grandfather Clark (Clucker) White who claimed our first national hockey title with the 1921-22 Fort William Great War Vets.
Outstanding all-round athlete inductee Ollie Sutton was joined in the Hall of Fame by his grandson Scott Sutton, who earned a national hockey title with the 1994-95 Thunder Bay Kings.
Rick Ricard helped bring home Allan Cup honours with the 1952 Fort Frances Canadians with his grandson Brad Kennett winning a Centennial Cup with the 1988-89 Flyers.
Fathers and daughters also reside in the Hall of Fame including Alex Gray who contributed to our first and second Allan Cup titles in 1925 and 1926, and Bette Toskovich who helped to bring home our first Canadian Women’s Senior curling title in 1991.
It was a proud evening for long-time builder of sport Lorne Allard when his daughter, Janice Allard-Cameron joined him in the hall of fame when she was inducted as part of the 1991 Cameron Lightning Sailing Crew.
In addition to the Wilson and Mitani name, there are a number of other father and sons whose names have made it into the Hall of Fame as athletes, builders and team members including the likes of Adams (Doug and Erik), Backor (Peter and Mark), Bragnalo (Fred, Dave, Rick), Busniuk (Ron and Bryson), Cava (Ab and Rory), Chabot (Lorne Sr and Jr), Christiansen (Walter and Keith), Crompton (Tom and John), Delvecchio (Tony and Jim), Gwozdecky (George Sr and Jr), Johansen (Bill ‘Red’ and Trevor), Johnson (Jim, Greg, Corey), Jones (Tom and John), Jorgenson (Alvin & Lynn), Keyes (Robert and Jim), Masters (Jack and Scott), Nicolson (Ken and Derek), Penner (Orval ‘BoBo’ and Darrell), Poshtar (Bill and Peter), Siciliano (Dave and Mark), Slivinski (Bert and Ab), Tetley (Bill and Ian) and Wishart (Sherry and Wyatt).
In addition to being in the same Hall of Fame, a father and son duo also share the same name on the Stanley Cup. I am speaking of Lidio (Lee) Fogolin who earned his spot on hockey’s holy grail with the 1949-50 Detroit Red Wings and his son Lee Jr., who won back to back titles with the Edmonton Oilers in 1984 and 1985. The ’85 Oilers were named the NHL’s greatest team of all time as part of the NHL’s 100th anniversary celebrations.
Speaking of fathers, if you are still looking for a great Father’s Day gift, or a gift of any kind, consider a Fame 600 Club lottery ticket from the Sports Hall of Fame.
For $50 you get 50 chances to win prizes ranging from $50 to $1,000 and some great sports related prizes including an autographed Jordan Staal jersey, tickets to the Chicago Blackhawks, to name just a few.
Only 600 tickets are available so don’t miss out. Draws will run from July 20-Sept. 2 and are a great way to help support the Sports Hall of Fame, especially during these challenging fundraising times.
Just call us at 622-2852 to order your ticket or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time, keep that sports history pride alive and stay safe.
Diane Imrie is the executive director of the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.