SSHF inductees have a rich history of service

There have always been strong ties between the sporting world and military service. Amongst the inductees of the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame (SSHF), that is no different.

To date, the SSHF has found 124 inductees who have served in branches of the Armed Forces. While they all share the commonality of sporting excellence and service, each of their stories is unique.

Alex Decoteau (image courtesy of the Edmonton Police Service)

Alex Decoteau was the first Saskatchewan-born athlete to compete in the Olympics. After competing in the 5,000-metre run at the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games, Decoteau — who was also Canada’s first Indigenous police officer — enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War in 1916. He was killed in action in the Second Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium on October 30, 1917, when he was shot by a sniper. Pvt. Decoteau put his athletic prowess to use during the war, serving as a communications trench runner.

In addition to Decoteau, SSHF inductees Edward Lyman “Hick” Abbott, Ernest “Ossie” Herlen, and Harry McKenzie from the 1915 Melville Millionaires were all Killed in Action. SSHF inductees Claude Warwick and James Bladon from the 1941 Regina Rangers were Killed in Service.

Some SSHF inductees saw their military service mix with their athletic pursuits. Julien Audette served in the Royal Canadian Air Force before being inducted in the sport of soaring (the sport of non-powered flight). Shooting inductees Joseph Austman, Jim Girgulis, Peter Jmaeff, and Ron Woolgar all served in the military.

Stanley “Cap” Harrison came from England and began Stockwell Stud Farm in Fort Qu’Appelle. When the First World War broke out, he was tasked with selecting and shipping western horses suitably for cavalry purposes. Harrison was well-suited to the task but sending stock to face almost certain death while he was safe at home. In 1916, Harrison left his brother to run the farm and enlisted in the Winnipeg Light Infantry Battalion. He was wounded three times and was once buried in rubble and feared dead. Harrison would survive the war and become a key figure in the growth of horse racing in the prairies. During the war, Harrison also wrote poetry which was later compiled by Grant MacEwan entitled, The Rhyming Horseman of the Qu’Appelle.

Phyllis Dewar

It wasn’t just our male inductees who answered the call to serve. Moose Jaw’s Phyllis Dewar won four gold medals swimming at the 1934 British Empire Games (the forerunner to the Commonwealth Games). She competed at the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympic Games and won another gold medal at the 1938 British Empire Games. Dewar enlisted with the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS) where she was stationed in Halifax. The WRCNS was formed in 1942 and featured more than 7,000 enlisted members during the Second World War. Their duties included wireless telegraphists, radar plotters, weapons analysts, range assessors, electricians, air mechanics, clerks, and cooks.

While the list of inductees with military service covers a broad range of sports, hockey has the most representation with 48 SSHF hockey inductees having served in the military.

Included amongst those were five players — Sid Abel, Max Bentley, Johnny Bower, Chuck Rayner, and Harry Watson — who would go on to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as well earning their place amongst the game’s all-time greats. Abel, Bentley, Rayner and Watson had all begun their National Hockey League careers when they enlisted during the Second World War. As a teenager in Prince Albert, Bower was part of the local army reserve unit. At 15 he lied about his age to enlist and spent two years in Vernon, B.C. completing his training before being deployed as a gunner with the 2nd Canadian Division with the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders. Days before the Dieppe Raid in 1942, Bower and eight other members of his unit came down with a respiratory infection that cause them to miss the raid and may have saved their lives.

While the majority of the SSHF inductees who served did so during the First and Second World Wars or the Korean War, Ed Staniowski is a more recent example of an athlete who served in the Canadian Forces.

Lt.-Col Ed Staniowski, a Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame inductee looks at some of the items on display at Play Hard, Fight Hard: Sport and the Canadian Military.

Staniowski starred in goal on the Regina Pats 1974 Memorial Cup-winning team and went on to play 10 seasons in the National Hockey League with St. Louis, Winnipeg and Hartford. After retiring from the NHL, Staniowski served in the Canadian Forces and reached the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the primary reserves. Staniowski was deployed in eight overseas operations during his 29 years in the Forces.

Below is a list of the 124 SSHF inductees that served their country in the Canadian Forces. Their service and sacrifice will never be forgotten:

Edward Abbot

Sid Abel

Robert Adams

Jack Adams

Dennis Adkins

Sandy Archer

Murray Armstrong

Bob Arn

Julien Audette

Joseph Victor Austman

Harry Bailey

Leonard Bath

Max Bentley

James Stanley Bladon

Garth Boesch

Johnny Bower

Calvin Bricker

Doug Bruce

Angus “Scotty” Cameron

Glen Campbell

Clarence Campbell

Ken Charlton

Harold Clayton

George Coops

Tony Cote

Aurthur Austin Creswell

Gordon Currie

David Dean

Alex Decoteau

Phyllis Dewar

Paul Dojack

Arthur “Art” Dowie

William “Bill” Ebbels

Gaston Eichel

Eldon Elliot

William Forsyth

Norman “Heck” Fowler

Emile Francis

Frank Germann

James “Jim” Girgulis

Anton Glasser

Gordon “Greg” Grassick

Ernest Albert Greenley

David Greyeyes

Ernest Wynne “Joe” Griffiths

William “Bill” Griston

Stanley “Hub” Gutheridge

Dr. Walter Hader

Stanley “Cap” Harrison

Henry “Hank” Hartenberger

James “Sugar Jim” Henry

Ernest “Ossie” Herlen

Alfred Hill

Lou Hough

Rollin Henry “Roly” Howes

William “Bill” Hunter

Dick Irvin Sr.

Peter Jmaeff

Gordon Juckes

Mike Kartusch

J.B. “Kirk” Kirkpatrick

Arthur Knutson

Elmer Knutson

Sam Landa

Jack Leddy

John Leicester

R.C. “Scotty” Livingstone

Victor Lynn

Harry Stuart MacKenzie

Jack Maddia

Frank Mario

Charles McCool

Frederick McCulloch

Robert McCutcheon

Ernie McNab

Tom “Scotty” Melville

Anthony Merle

Don Metz

Nick Metz

Harold Mitchelmore

Alex Motter

Donald Sinclair “Speed” Moynes

Victor Myles

Stan Obodiac

William “Bill” Orban

Charles Otton

David Pearce

Bert Penfold

Claude Petit

Gordon Pettinger

Allan Wilfrid Pickard

Peter Prediger

Kenneth Preston

David Pyle

William Beatty Ramsay

Chuck Rayner

Robert “Bobby” Reid

Robert Reid

Ernest Richardson

Walt Riddell

Alvin Horace “Al” Ritchie

Tom Ross

Alex Sandalack

Lloyd Saunders

Arthur Sihvon

D’Arcy Smith

Ed Staniowski

John “Jack” Stewart

Edgar Wallace “Wally” Stinson

Neil “Piffles” Taylor

Earl “Tommy” Thomson

Robert Van Impe

Peter Vyvyan

H.J. “Johnny” Walker

Clinton Ward

George Ward

Claude Warwick

Harold “Harry” Watson

Ab Welsh

Alfred Stiffles Whittleton

H.J. “Pete” Wilken

Frederick Cornelius Wilson

Eddie Wiseman

Ronald Woolgar

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