Henry Kelso:
Owen Sound Sports Legend 

Henry Kelso: Owen Sound Sports Legend not only contributed to the sporting life of his students, he also had a significant influence on the rest of their lives.

In a recent interview, former Owen Sound hockey star Buck Jones said that during his childhood the Victoria Public School hockey teams were the envy of the other teams in the Owen Sound School Hockey League in the 1920s. 

Jones said that Victoria's teams had the nicest uniforms. Others from that era in Owen Sound's history relate how the Victoria teams were usually at, or near the top, of their divisions each season. 

Many Owen Sounders, especially those from Brooke, will tell you that the reason for Victoria's success in sports can be attributed to efforts of one man, Henry Kelso! 

Henry Kelso began his teaching career in 1886 at the Brooke School. By 1900 he had achieved the position of principal at that institution. 

Kelso remained as the principal when the new Victoria School was opened in 1913. Although he was transferred to serve in the same position at Strathcona School in 1922, his legacy at Victoria continued on and the school remained a force in the Owen Sound School Hockey League for many years. 

Many documents containing information from former students portray Kelso as a strict teacher, and, more importantly, a caring person. He was constantly concerned about the well-being of his students. Because of a fear that the treacherous ice on the harbour might claim the lives of those who skated and played hockey there, each winter, Kelso built an outdoor rink in the school yard at Victoria School. Each evening, long after classes had ended, the principal could be found flooding the ice, shoveling snow 0r supervising the skaters. 

He was tireless worker. Through his efforts he raised the money and materials necessary to build a change room for the skaters. 

He worked hard to develop Victoria's hockey teams. Kelso organized games for his players, beyond regularly scheduled league games. He arranged exhibition games with teams from as far away as Toronto. This environment helped to develop many high-quality hockey players in Brooke. 

At one point there was talk of entering a team from that area in the Ontario Junior Hockey League. 

Many Victoria graduates became members of the Owen Sound Greys and helped make that team a powerhouse which claimed Canadian championships, not once, but twice, in 1924 and again in 1927. Many of those players later graduated to the ranks of professional hockey. 

Two former Victoria students, Butch Keeling and Ted Graham, enjoyed long careers in the National Hockey League. 

Most of his former students were extremely grateful for the opportunities provided to them by Kelso's tireless efforts on their behalf. In fact, the uniforms which were the envy of the rest of the school hockey league were provided to the Victoria team by Ted Graham of the Chicago Black Hawks! 

Teddy GrahamTeddy Graham
Chicago Black Hawks
Paul White Photo Collection

This expenditure was obviously a token of gratitude from a former student who realized that his achievements had been greatly enhanced by his principal's efforts. 

Henry Kelso retired from his position at Strathcona in 1931. Unfortunately, his life was cut short three years later in 1934 when he disappeared in a boating accident while making his way to his cottage at Lion's Head. 

Henry Kelso's name lives on in Owen Sound. He persuaded Owen Sound's council to create a recreation area on the west shore of the harbour. Once again, his tireless efforts and persuasiveness helped to raise the material and money to build change rooms for swimmers and other equipment necessary for the use of the children of the community. In 1921 this area was named Kelso Beach in his honour. 

Today, Kelso Beach remains as an important recreational facility enjoyed by adults and youngsters alike. 

Although six and half decades have passed since Henry Kelso disappeared on that tragic boating trip his legacy lives on!

A version of this article first appeared in my Local History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times on January 29, 1999.

More Great Information Pages
About Owen Sound Hockey History

Benny Grant: Memorial Cup Champ grew up in Owen Sound and enjoyed a hockey career, which included a surprising turn of events that led to a stint in the NHL.

"Buck" Jones, like most Canadian boys, 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!

Owen Sound Hockey Heritage stretches from rural farmhouses on Saturday night to backyard rinks to cheering for local hockey successes and hockey heroes.

Ralph "Cooney" Weiland skated from a Memorial Cup championship in Owen Sound, to a Stanley Cup in Boston to fame as a U.S. college hockey coach.

Doug Brindley: From Maple Draft Choice to a role in Slap Shot: a Memorial Cup champ; coached by Don Cherry; and he played in the WHA; what more could a Walkerton Ontario native ask for in a hockey career?

Goalie "Red" Henry: An All-Star Netminder: Another great Owen Sound goalie who played for the love of the game.

"Hap" Day was a Hall of Fame hockey player, coach and general manager as well as a life-long Toronto Maple Leaf.

Harry Lumley spent his Hall of Fame hockey career tending the nets for four NHL clubs and he spent one period of a hockey game goaltending for a fifth NHL team.

Henry Kelso: Owen Sound Sports Legend not only contributed to the sporting life of his students, he also had a significant influence on the rest of their lives.

The 1959-60 Owen Sound Greys: A Tough Act to Follow: Tragedy struck this hockey team of young men, yet they persevered.

Newspaper Sports: Owen Sound Hockey History was detailed in the pages of the Owen Sound Sun Times in detail in the days before the radio and television eras.

Owen Sound Goalies: Why does Owen Sound produce so many fine goaltenders? There must be something in the water! 

Owen Sound Platers: Ray McKelvie the quiet and knowledgeable leader behind the success of the 1999 hockey team.

Junior Hockey Commentary: Should there be controversy about the use of non-local hockey players? This article was written in 1998 in response to a letter to the editor in the Owen Sound Sun Times

Pat McReavy enjoyed a long hockey career which brought him three championships, the Stanley Cup, the Allan Cup and a World Hockey Title.

Owen Sound Junior Hockey History began almost one hundred and twenty years ago and is rich with championship teams, great players, and dedicated fans. 

Owen Sound's New Arena in 1938 opened a new era in Grey and Bruce counties with the first artificial ice making machine in western Ontario north of Kitchener.

"Red" Armstrong, a fiery spirited hockey player, known more for his fierce checking than his scoring prowess surprised even himself on his first NHL shift.

Some Great Owen Sound Greys. The history of this hockey team is a story of players who were not only local boys, but came from many locations to hone their skills.

Tommy Burlington: the Greatest North American Never to Play in the NHL captured scoring titles in every league that he played, bringing comparisons to NHL greats.

Owen Sound Hockey History is rich with stories of championship teams, star hockey players, and community support.

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