Owen Sound hockey history is rich with stories of championship teams, star hockey players, and community support.
Sports have always been a large part of life in this area. Early editions of the newspaper reported the results of regattas, baseball games and other competitions which were usually held in conjunction with other events such as Dominion Day picnics and the celebrations on the 12th of July. Later, the newspaper reported on the exploits of the local high school in rugby, baseball and other sports. After the turn of the century more coverage appeared as local teams competed with other area communities for honours in sports such as hockey.
In the 1920s sports became a larger part of the Owen Sound Sun Times as sports were becoming more and more a part of life in the community. Through the efforts of groups like the Crescent Club many more athletes were participating in sports and teams were representing the city in many leagues. 1924 marked a new high point for the community in the world of sports, and especially in Owen Sound hockey history, as the junior hockey team, the Greys, defeated all opposition and headed west to play for the Memorial Cup, emblematic of the Canadian Junior Hockey Championships!
The whole city, and the surrounding area, was caught up in the frenzy about a national hockey championship being claimed by a local team. The Greys played Calgary for the Memorial Cup on March 28, 1924. As game time approached fans started gathering outside the office of the Sun Times waiting for news about the game. The newspaper set up a lantern projector and as the game progressed, telegraphed information about penalties and goals were flashed on the wall of the building across the street. Each goal or penalty brought cheers or groans from the assembled throng in the street. By the end of the game it was estimated that more than five thousand area residents were in the street outside the Sun Times office.
When the game ended, Owen Sound had its first national hockey championship and pandemonium back out. Bands played, people danced, and the partying lasted well into the night. Owen Sound had not seen a celebration that compared since the news of the end of World War One!
During this era the front of the Sun Times office was a common meeting place in the community. You never knew when late breaking news might occur, and the front of the newspaper office was the place to hear it first!
In 1927 the street in front of the Sun Times was once more the site of a mass of anxious hockey fans as the local heroes, the Greys, were once again doing battle for the Memorial Cup. A hush would fall over the crowd as the lantern flashed the latest events of the game, then there would be a collective cheer or groan depending upon the news. At one point, it was announced that the Greys’ goaltender, Benny Grant, had received a penalty. His father was so disheartened by this that he went home, convinced that his son’s penalty had cost the team the game and the championship. However, the Greys killed the penalty and went on to victory! Once again, the streets of Owen Sound were the scene of wild jubilation!
Another highlight in Owen Sound hockey history occurred in October 1938 when a new arena with the first artificial ice surface in the area was opened in Owen Sound. The Sun Times marked the occasion by publishing a special sports edition. In that edition the newspaper featured not only the rich hockey heritage of the community, but also highlighted the careers of many local heroes who had gone on to play professional hockey. Ironically, the sports editor of the day may have known something about the future as he published a picture of a local school hockey team. There alongside stories about Butch Keeling, Benny Grant and others was the picture of a young boy, named Harry Lumley, who only a few years later would star in the NHL and become perhaps the Greatest hockey player ever from the Owen Sound area!
In the 1940's the Sun Times provided coverage of the Orphans, Mercurys, Greys, Crescents and other teams representing the area in many sports. Now hockey and lacrosse games could be heard on the radio and the voice that detailed the play-by-play action as the Mercurys won an Allan Cup as the Canadian Senior Hockey Champions and the Crescents won the Canadian Lacrosse Mann Cup Championship was Bill Dane a Sun Times sports reporter!
Sports, especially hockey are an important part of life in this area and Sun Times has long been an important source of information about the successes of our local heroes.
A version of this story first appeared in my Local Sports History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times.
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.