When “Buck” Jones was a youngster, one of his favourite pastimes was hanging out in downtown Owen Sound with his friends hoping to catch a glimpse of his hockey hero, Teddy Graham, a local lad who played with the Chicago Black Hawks in the NHL. Like most Canadian boys, Jones, and his pals, dreamed of playing in the NHL. Little did he realize that one day he would wear the sweater of an NHL club and would be the idol of youngsters like himself!
Alvin “Buck” Jones was born in Owen Sound on August 16, 1917. He began playing hockey when, at the age of eight, his father built a rink in the back yard of their home on 6th Ave. West. He later played for Dufferin School in the highly competitive Owen Sound school hockey league. “Buck” recalls that Dufferin’s toughest foe was Victoria Public School. Jones has fond memories of his days playing hockey for his school. In fact, on the walls of his Tampa, Florida home, he has pictures of the 1929-30, 1930-31, and 1931-32 teams, each of which captured the league championship.
“Buck” was an all-round athlete. He played lacrosse and participated in swimming and track and field events. Jones’ abilities came to him naturally, as his father Luther, was an outstanding lacrosse player with the Owen Sound Alexandria’s.
He played hockey for the Owen Sound Crescents before joining the Greys. In order to further his hockey career “Buck” left his home town to play junior hockey in Barrie during the 1936-37 season. But this move does not seem so significant when one considers the trip that he made on the next leg of his hockey odyssey. The 1937-38 season found the youngster from Owen Sound playing hockey in England!
He signed a contract to play with the Harringay Greyhounds of the English Senior League. That season he was selected to play on an all-star team which was touring Europe. One of the main stops on this hockey junket was a tournament in Germany where Adolf Hitler was at the pinnacle of power. To this day, “Buck” remembers walking the streets of that country and hearing Hitler’s speeches booming from loudspeakers which were located on every street corner.
After this season of touring and playing hockey in Europe, Jones returned to Canada to sign a contract to play for the Detroit Red Wings. He had taken a major step towards fulfilling the dream of many Canadian boys to play in the National Hockey League! His attendance at his first professional training camp in October 1938 caused his home town newspaper, the Owen Sound Sun Times, in its October 25, 1938 edition to trumpet the exploits of the local boy.
“Buck” Jones has just made the jump to pro hockey and is starting what will in all probability prove a long and brilliant career.”
“Buck” not only made an impression on his Red Wing bosses, but he also impressed another person. During training camp, he and his friend, Collingwood native Eddie Bush, went on a date with two young ladies from Michigan. Two years later, “Buck” and his date from that evening, Anna Kaye, were married.
Jones started the 1938-39 season with Detroit’s farm club, the Pittsburgh Hornets. However, during the season, Detroit sent defenseman “Black Jack” Stewart to Pittsburgh and called “Buck” to replace him on the Red Wing blue line. He remained in the Motor City for the rest of the season and played in the play-offs.
He split the next season 1939-40 between Detroit and the Indianapolis Capitals of AHL. “Buck” played the entire 1941-42 season with the Capitals. He started the 1942-43 season in Detroit, but after 21 NHL games he was traded to the Providence Reds, a minor league affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He joined the Maple Leafs near the end of the 1942-43 season and played in the play-offs. His coach in Toronto was former Owen Sounder, “Hap” Day. At the end of the season “Buck” enlisted in the Canadian army and was out of hockey until the end of World War II.
After the war ended, Jones, joined the Tulsa Oilers of the USHL for the 1946-47 season. He played for that Oklahoma team until the 1948-49 season when he signed with the Hershey Bears of the AHL. “Buck” spent two seasons on the Bears’ blueline in front of another Owen Sound hockey product, goaltender, Gord “Red” Henry.
He returned to Tulsa for the 1950-51 season and then moved further west. Jones played for the Tacoma Rockets for two seasons before splitting the 1953-54 season between the Seattle Bombers and the Nelson Maple Leafs of the Western Hockey League. “Buck” played 19 games with the Valleyfield Braves of the Quebec Hockey League in 1954-55 before retiring from hockey.
Alvin “Buck” Jones’ hockey career spanned two decades and two continents. The boy from 6th Ave. West in Owen Sound played in Europe and in many places in North America. He had achieved the dream of most Canadians of playing in the National Hockey League. When his hockey career came to an end he settled in Tampa, Florida to raise his family. But his roots in Owen Sound are very deep. He is an honoured member of the Owen Sound Sports Hall of Fame and to this day when the calendar reads November, he dreams of the days of his youth playing hockey on the ice covered yards, rivers and harbour of his home town!
A version of this article first appeared in my Local Sports History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times in November, 1998.
On a personal note, I would like to thank "Buck" and his wife Anna Kay for welcoming me into their Tampa home.
Charles Rankin, I Presume: October 7, 1840 marked the meeting of Land Agent John Telfer and surveyor Charles Rankin on the banks of the Sydenham River and the founding of Owen Sound.
Black History: Emancipation Day celebrates the abolition of slavery and it continues to be an annual celebration in many locations that were in some way, or another touched by the impact of slavery.
Black History of Owen Sound: Version 2: There is some debate about the first black citizen in the Owen Sound area. Here is more information for your consideration.
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Billy Bishop: Owen Sound Hero earned national and international fame as a World War One Fighter pilot and used his high profile to aid in the World War Two effort.
John Muir, the legendary naturalist, who promoted the idea of protected nature spaces, spent time in Ontario and I went to help find evidence of his stay in the Owen Sound area.
Black Clawson Kennedy: An Iconic Owen Sound Industry provided income for area residents and economic development for the community for almost 150 years.
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Hillcrest School Memories a look back at my public school days when Owen Sound's Hillcrest Public School celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998.
News of War: The 1940s was supposed to provide the world with a respite after the hardship of the 1930s depression. However World War Two brought more adversity.
Owen Sound 1840 Onward! From a clearing in the Georgian Bay wilderness to a booming port city the 1800s were a time of growth and prosperity.
Owen Sound's First Newspaper: The Comet came into existence a mere 10 years after the first settlers braved the wilderness that would become the Grey and Bruce region.
Owen Sound's First Town Council was created to develop the necessary infrastructure for a pioneer community to grow and prosper.
Owen Sound Tavern Bylaw (1857) tried to tackle the issue of monitoring taverns in the Upper Canadian pioneer wilderness.
Owen Sound's 1857 Bylaw: Dog Control illustrated how a pioneer town controlled dogs in the community, sometimes even using harsh measures.
Owen Sound CPR Strike in 1908 immobilized harbour activities in that important Georgian Bay port, the CPR's eastern Great Lakes terminus.
Owen Sound CPR Link began with a bang, suffered a setback, and ended with a whimper.
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Owen Sound 1920 Stories provide an interesting look at the community as it was about to become a city.
Owen Sound 1920s: Optimism abounded in the port city as a new decade began, The town was becoming a city and the economic outlook seemed bright.
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Owen Sound Street Names honour the individuals who made a contribution to Owen Sound's development. Today the streets are numbered to help visitors find their way.
O.S.C.V.I.: the History of an Owen Sound High School details from the very beginning the establishment of a high school in the community.
Pioneer Story of a Child in 1846 Owen Sound details life in the last wilderness in Upper Canada in the 1840s.
Pioneer Story of a Child in 1846 (Part 2) continues the memories of Elizabeth Byth as she encountered life in the Upper Canada wilderness that became Owen Sound.
Pioneer Theatre was a big hit in Owen Sound and across southern Ontario, where Vaudevillians like Perth Ontario's Marx Brothers played to full houses.
U.S. President Taft Visited Owen Sound Ontario, a Georgian Bay port in a momentous winter of events in 1920 as Owen Sound celebrated its incorporation as a ci
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A pioneer home was very utilitarian. It served the pioneer family's essential needs, while the work of clearing the land and planting crops took priority.
Pioneer justice might be described as ruthless. But the question remains, did they always get the right man?
CPR Grain Elevator Fire in 1911 in Owen Sound harbour would have a profound impact on that Georgian Bay community.
Reverend Ryerson Visits Owen Sound and despite a great reception from the citizens of the community, he posts a negative newspaper story of the community.
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Owen Sound Ontario: A Unique Perspective: Book provides a unique and humorous perspective about this Georgian Bay port and hockey hotbed.
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