They were the stars of the city, Victoria’s top athletes during a time of depression.
The YMCA’s track team from the 1930s was tops in the country.
Coached by YMCA physical director Archie McKinnon, the group of short and middle distance runners was led by 220-yard sprinter and quartermile (440-yard) specialist Joe Addison. (Races were done in yards and miles then.)
Half-mile runner Bill Dale and mile specialist Chuck Cunningham made up the core three with Addison, while a list of short-distance sprinters each spent time as the team’s fourth man.
It’s been a long time coming, but the Y team are finally going into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame, part of the 2013 inductee group to be celebrated on Oct. 26.
“We originally wanted to put Bill Dale in about 12 years ago. He was still alive then, but when we sat down with him and told him our intentions, he refused,” said Dave Unwin, a Victoria sports archivist.
Unwin has long snooped out the history of athletes in the city. Dale sent Unwin on a new hunt, one that finally ended with a phone call last year.
“At first Bill told us about his brother Vic Dale and said Vic was more deserving, his brother being a great basketball player and all-around athlete. Then Bill explained that it was Addison who was the (Y team) ringleader.”
The only problem was Addison’s story ended in the Second World War.
Unwin knew he was a policeman and a truant officer whose pay was split between the City of Victoria and the school district. He wasn’t with the Victoria police department for long. He signed up with the army, transferred to the air force and was shot down in a bomber during the war.
Until a lucky turn of events, Addison’s story had disappeared from history.
But the word was out around Victoria that the GVSHOF was on the lookout for Addison’s family descendants, and in 2012 Addison’s nephew Ross Williams called Unwin.
“Just prior to Christmas I had a visit from Williams. He … brought two boxes of Addison’s scrapbooks, photos and awards,” Unwin said.
The newspaper stories and information, most of it from the 1930s, suggested the Y team deserved to be in the hall of fame.
Among many news articles was photos of Addison playing other sports, including a soccer photo from high school, representing Saanich school district at the city school soccer championship Fragment’s Cup.
This year is the first time Addison has been enshrined in the hall, though many of his teammates are already inducted. (Inset photo of 1912 Olympian Hal Beasley from Victoria and Addison, on right, at MacDonald Park, current home of the James Bay Athletic Association.)
The Y team were generally known as a group of four, with a frequently changing sprinter.
It’s believed Lynn Patrick was the team’s first sprinter, son of Lester and brother of Murray (Muzz), but Lynn left for the New York Rangers where he won the Stanley Cup as a player, with Muzz on his team and dad Lester behind the bench.
Navy man Owen Bentley also took a turn as the sprinter, as did Paul Rowe, who went onto win the Grey Cup with the Calgary Stampeders. There was Noel Morgan, an all-around sportsman, and lastly, Bruce Humber, who went to university in Washington state and was the only member to represent Canada at the Olympics when he went to the 1936 Berlin Games.
Addison had been to the 1934 Empire Games, and should have qualified for the 1936 Olympics, as well as Dale, Unwin found.
“Addison, Dale and Humber went to the Canadian qualifying championships in Toronto on the way to Olympics (in 1936). When they got there it rained all weekend,” Unwin said.
“Addison did both the quarter and hurdles but had bad luck though he could have qualified for both events based on his previous times. For the 220 (yards) Addison drew the inside track which was flooded with puddles and he didn’t make (the time).”
During the era, Canada only financed so many athletes (about 100) to attend the Games, though additional athletes who qualified were welcome to pay their own way.
“I believe Bill Dale and Joe Addison both had the opportunity to pay their own way to the Olympics, but during the depression, the money wasn’t available,” Unwin said.
For tickets to the Oct. 26 banquet at the Pacific Institute of Sports Excellence, contact GVSHOF president Nick Tuele at 250-652-1455 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
– with files from Dave Unwin
Hall of fame class of 2013
Kjeld Brodsgaard (Builder)
Brodsgaard was chairman of the organizing committee for the 1993 Commonwealth Wrestling Championships and sport chair of wrestling for the 1994 Commonwealth Games.
Keith Dagg (Builder)
Dagg chaired the 2005 and 2013 Ford Men’s World Curling Championships and helped bring the PGA tour to Victoria in 1981.
Michael Edgson (Athlete)
Edgson, a visually impaired swimmer, is one of Canada’s most successful athletes with 18 gold, three silver medals and nine world records from three Paralympic Games in the 1980s and 1990s.
Derek Porter – Athlete (Rowing)
A three-time Olympian, Derek Porter captured a gold medal with the men’s eight rowing team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. For the 1996 Summer Games, Porter made the transition to single sculls and finished in second place to win silver. The 1993 single sculls World Champion also captured two silver medals with the men’s eight at the 1990 and 1991 World Championships.
Alison Sydor (Athlete)
A former UVic student, Sydor won silver at the 1996 Summer Olympics in mountain biking, and three World Mountain Bike championships.
Gillian Thomas (Athlete)
A multi-sports athlete who toured with the national field hockey team in 1965-66, won several batting titles at the Canadian Softball Championships and was a national-level squash, badminton and tennis player.
1930s YMCA Track Team (Team)
Under the coaching of Archie McKinnon, the team comprised Bill Dale, Joe Addison, Chuck Cunningham and variously, sprinters Lynn Patrick, Noel Morgan, Owen Bentley, Paul Rowe and Bruce Humber. The team excelled throughout the decade and finished fifth at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
1976-1984 Vic West Soccer (Team)
The same core Vic West players won four national senior men’s soccer titles from 1976 to 1984, six B.C. championships and six Jackson Cup Island titles.