Hamilton Township

Softball-FastPitch-Roger Cole

Roger Cole



Roger Cole


Roger Cole was born on July 27, 1954, at the hospital in Cobourg, Ontario.  He was the youngest of five boys born to Mildred and Glen Cole. He grew up and still resides on his family farm near Plainville, with his wife Donna, in Hamilton Township.


For Ed, Ross, Paul, Allan and Roger, travelling to Cobourg to play Legion softball or CCHL hockey was not an option. Summers were spent playing ball at home or at public school pickup games. Winter months involved playing local pond hockey with his brothers and neighbours. Roger and Donna raised two wonderful daughters who went on to get married and bless them with 4 beautiful grandchildren. 


Once old enough, the Plainville Men’s Softball team was the game of choice. Roger and Harry Jeschke played on the team as 13-year-olds and were used occasionally as outfielders or pinch hitters. Roger was 4’10” at the time and was quite successful at drawing walks. Ewart Timlin was one pitcher that struck Roger out. No one could have predicted that Ewart would eventually be the one to have the greatest influence on Roger’s pitching career.


Although dabbling in pitching, Roger never really started until 1972 when, in grade 13 at the age of 18, he and his high school buddies decided to put a team in the formidable Cobourg Men’s Softball League. This was the start of his illustrious pitching career. His men’s league team, Wilburn Construction, struggled to win many games in the early years. 


Roger went off to Guelph and obtained his Honours BSc (Agriculture) degree and graduated in 1976. While at Guelph he met Donna and they were married in July of 1976. Daughters Angela and Shannon followed several years later. Donna played varsity hockey at Guelph so the girls followed in their parents’ footsteps — hockey in the winter and softball in the summer. Donna got heavily involved in coaching and managing girls’ hockey teams in the area. Roger and Donna co-coached the first Senior Ladies hockey team out of Cobourg. 


In 1973, Roger played on Bill O’Neill’s Juvenile B Ontario Championship team. In 1975, Ewart Timlin signed Roger to the Cold Springs Cats and he pitched on that team for over thirty years, winning back-to-back Intermediate C Ontario Championships in 1975 and 1976. At the age of 50, while pitching in the 2004 Ontario Masters Championship tournament in Port Perry, Roger sustained an arm injury which ended his playing career. He wasn’t prepared to hang up his cleats so he transitioned into a coaching role and went on to co-coach the Cats.


As well as playing for the Cats, Roger played in the Peterborough City League (for 2 years), the Hamilton Township Men’s Softball League (from the age of 13 until the league stopped running), and the Cobourg Men’s Softball League (from 1972 until it stopped running). He played for Fraserville, Plainville, Crossroads, Murray Thompson Auto-body, Wilburn Construction, Meadowvale Aces, Bruce & Ricks, Everett’s Astros, and eagle.ca. He coached and managed the Hamilton Township league teams and the Cobourg league teams from the late 80’s until the leagues folded.


Roger was known for his pitching longevity and stamina and would often pitch 3-4 games in a week. In 1978, Roger won tournament MVP at the Deck Transport Invitational tournament in Lakefield, Ontario. He pitched fifty-four innings on that weekend for the Cats, then the next day pitched a Cobourg Men’s league game. He was named top pitcher in 1979 in the Eastern Ontario Fastball League with a 0.5 ERA. He also received the top pitcher award in the Oshawa City League in 1980.


That same year, the Cats moved up to the Senior A level of competition and surprised everyone by winning the Ontario Championship in London. They became the first and only local team (to date) to win the Senior A title and went on to represent Ontario at the Canadian Senior A Championships in Saskatoon. While in Saskatoon the Cats defeated both the gold and silver medalists in the round robin. Roger pitched both games, allowing only one run in two games. That was the only loss the gold medal Nova Scotia team took. In 1989, Cold Springs won an Intermediate B Ontario title and Roger was named top pitcher. In 1995, he helped Baltimore to an Intermediate B Ontario crown.


The Cold Springs Cats moved to the Masters division and won Ontario titles in 1996, 1997 and 1998. Roger was named top pitcher in 1996 and 1997. The team also won back-to-back Canadian Masters Championships in 1997 and 1998.  At the 2000 Ontario Masters Championships (at the age of 47) he was named tournament MVP after pitching 5 1/2 games in one weekend. In all, Roger played on nine Ontario Championship teams and two Canadian Masters Championship teams, while several Hamilton Township League and Cobourg Men’s League Championships were also claimed.


Roger played and managed teams in the Hamilton Township Men’s Softball League and the Cobourg Men’s Softball League (CMSL). In 2003, he received a milestone award from the CMSL with 2059 strikeouts and counting. He also received a dedication award in 2006, and served many years on the CMSL executive. He received multiple MVP and top pitcher awards in both leagues, pitched two perfect games and 10-12 no-hitters during his 30+ years of pitching.


During his playing and managing years, Roger concentrated on giving younger players a place and a chance to play. Many turned out to be good ball players and even better people, and he was most proud of that.


In the winter, he followed his daughter’s hockey but also played himself, in a recreational league in Bewdley. He joined the Rice Lake Oilers team in 1989 and played for 28 years, retiring at the age of 63. A highlight of the year was always the annual Oilers tournament that has been going on for close to 40 years.


Softball is a team game and none of Roger’s personal achievements would have been possible without the great cast of ball players amassed by Ewart Timlin. He is quick to point out that his journey would not have been possible without his Mom, Dad and brothers who would manage the workload on their dairy farm while he was at the ballpark.


His wife, Donna, was also a huge supporter and made many sacrifices so he could pursue his dreams. Roger continues to work on his family farm, enjoys spending time with his family and grandchildren, and now satisfies his love of sports on the golf course. 



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Softball-Paul Currelly

Paul Currelly w-wife




Paul Currelly’s leadership contribution to the longstanding success of the Cobourg Angels is well documented in the records of the CDSHF. Shedding light on the important aspects of Paul’s leadership style might serve to provide insight into how the unparalleled and long-term success of the Angels transpired.

Seen as one story, the narrative connects 6 decades with many worthy individuals contributing to the success for various lengths of time. There is a common thread that links all of these very capable people, players, and coaches alike. Paul Currelly meticulously built an organization that was often one step ahead of the changing circumstances that local sports almost inevitably face.

So, what were the skills that Paul Currelly had that went far beyond the teaching of fundamentals? A focus on detail and organization, an eye for talent (coaches and players) as well as persistence and planning for the next stage of team development.

Little of the long term and sustained success of the Angels could have been anticipated when the foundation of the team and organization was created during the 1960’s. Cobourg Baseball, Legion Branch 133 Minor Softball and Church League Hockey were already in place as athletic outlets for boys. The fact that Paul and his lovely wife Marian had 3 daughters was the first act that directed Paul’s considerable energy towards making athletic opportunities for girls.

At no point would it be suggested that Paul (and Marian of course) claimed that family planning was part of the early beginnings of the Angels story.  As it turned out, perhaps hundreds of girls and young women would end up seeing themselves as a part of a very special sports family. Indeed, many of them would have viewed the Currelly residence as a welcoming second home.



Long before the term “hub” became popularized, a relatively spacious back yard in the east end neighbourhood of Coverdale became a hub or gathering place for the friends and neighbours of the two older Currelly daughters, Carol and Nancy. Time spent there was often dedicated to playing “mildly” competitive games such as tag, running and jumping and of course softball. The kids had a safe and nurturing place to play centred on sports and most probably numerous breaks for snacks. He and Marian initially provided their own equipment from their former playing days. When the Coverdale area kids began house league play, Paul scoured the town and the local district for all manner of used articles. He also sought contributions from people such as Clarke Sommerville (another CDSHF inductee) to round off the considerable stockpile.

As is almost always the case, young children outgrow the limits of the backyard. In the case of the Angels’ story, this may have been the first time that Paul displayed his capacity to adapt to changing circumstances during the long history of the Aces/Angels organization. He helped initiate the idea of developing a house league based on geographic neighbourhoods. Other key founders from the various neighbourhoods included Max Smith, John Copeland, Jack Bevan, Garry Jones, Donald Dunn, and Ross Burgess. Their combined efforts came to fruition as the Cobourg Town League’s inaugural season came to pass in 1963.


Participation in the newly formed league was enthusiastically received by the neighbourhood girls. Registration was held at nearby Merwin Greer School where the Coverdale Aces also played their home games.

During the early years, the Coverdale neighbourhood was amalgamated into the Town of Cobourg and Paul negotiated a deal with the municipality to build a softball diamond located in what is now Peter Delanty Park. This achievement was characterized by a somewhat unique innovation. The topsoil from the construction of Brook Road North was redeployed to the park. Paul, as the story goes, agreed to spread the topsoil himself using a borrowed tractor in exchange for having the municipality build a backstop and infield for a softball diamond.

Of the three Currelly sisters, Patsy ended up playing house league games there while the older sisters moved their games to the Victoria Park diamond. Certainly, Paul’s facilitation benefited his youngest daughter, but he also helped leave a legacy for the Town and the local neighbourhood as a whole. Subsequently, the diamond was suitably named, The Paul Currelly Diamond.

Over the course of the time that the Coverdale Aces played in the Cobourg Town League, the team registered a winning streak of 52 games and numerous undefeated seasons. Ironically, Paul and his teams never again quite reached that level of statistical accomplishment. Yet the early successes, foreshadowed a story of outstanding and enduring achievement that continued even after Paul Currelly had passed.



By 1968, the era of house league dominance had ended for the teams that the older sisters, Carol and Nancy, played on. A Juvenile team was formed from the best players in the house league. Now that Paul’s teams played at the central softball venue of Victoria Park, he often could be seen spreading sawdust on the wet diamond or even going as far as borrowing a pump from Cobourg Lumber to make a soaked diamond playable for an early evening game.

Previous to the season, Paul saw the value of having the Juvenile team participate in the nearby well-established Durham League which was principally composed of a group of adult teams. The quality of the league provided a new challenge and motivation for Currelly’s Juvenile team. In that very same year, the Juveniles successfully made the competitive leap by winning the Durham League Championship. The beginning of a new chapter was being written.



By 1972, Paul spearheaded the formation of The Lakeshore Juvenile Girls Softball League and his third and youngest daughter Patsy joined the team as a bat girl. Her inclusion as a bat girl was the first step that would eventually see her develop into a first-rate catcher. Both Carol and Nancy had successful early stints as pitching mainstays before they transitioned to infield positions. The Cobourg Angels experienced nearly immediate success as they were PWSA Juvenile Finalists in 1973. This was followed by a league championship in 1975 and two provincial Junior gold medals in 1975 and 1976.

What has always been a hallmark of Paul Currelly’s managing style, namely adapting to the needs, and changing circumstances of his players, manifested itself when Paul helped to establish a new league for his now Midget Angels. Patsy, Paul’s youngest daughter became a catching mainstay throughout the Angels’ most successful era.


Paul’s accurate evaluation of his players’ talent resulted in near immediate results. In 1977, the Midget Angels captured both the Claremont Tournament and the Lakeshore League Championship. By 1979, the Juvenile Angels claimed another PWSA championship as well as a number of provincial tournaments including the well-established local Grafton Tournament run by Dick Raymond. It is probably worth mentioning that the ‘79 team had a 50-7 season record which came close to the 52 wins recorded during the earliest house league seasons.

After 1979, the Angels transitioned to the Junior classification. In 1981, the Angels were provincial finalists, while in 1981 and 1982 the team accumulated a number of tournament and Lakeshore League successes. By this time, Paul may have seen that the team had perhaps reached a competitive ceiling and so, as the 1980’s unfolded, he shifted gears and directions once again. By the end the 1980’s, the decade might have been considered as the golden era for his Angels.



Most highly competitive sports organizations eventually need to recruit in order to maintain or improve upon their competitive position. Once Paul’s teams emerged from a neighbourhood house league format, he began to attract players such as Peggy Kernaghan from the local rural area. The approach would eventually lead to the recruitment of players from Oshawa, north to Peterborough and east to Belleville. An early example of Paul’s approach to recruiting was evident when he recruited players from the surrounding area. Part of Paul’s recruitment strategy was to invite his wife Marian on “Sunday afternoon drives” that inevitably ended up at a prospect’s home. Currelly used his accumulated good will to arrange summer jobs for players in the Cobourg area.

Additionally, before the girls had drivers’ licenses, he would ensure their attendance at games and practices by arranging rides to and from the activity. It must have been evident to almost all of the people associated with the organization that Paul had very high expectations for himself and of course he similarly held high expectations for his players. An excerpt from one of Paul’s season end banquet speeches reveals the understood contract between players and the community they represented...


Our main objective is to have fun, to teach you the fundamentals and guide you through the wins and losses with the proper attitude. We demand a full effort at all times for we know that the harder we work, the more successful we will be. We also want you to realize that when you pull on the green and gold uniform, you represent a lot of people, the Town of Cobourg, Harnden and King Construction, your coaches, your parents, and most of all, yourselves. I must say that we were proud of the way you conducted yourselves this past season.


Outstanding players generally want to have a well-supported and structured environment with high expectations. Early hints of Paul Currelly’s successful recruitment based on the “Angels Brand” was manifested when outstanding Oshawa area pitcher Joan VanderZyden joined the team during the 1970’s. Another significant recruiting move brought in Hastings area player Su Morrow to play first base and pitch. Jim Morrow, Su’s father, would also join Paul Currelly to form a coaching combination that lasted into the 1990’s.

Over the course of the 1980’s, Paul identified considerable talent that would blend with the team’s character and positional needs. His efforts yielded 2 elite pitchers, (Elaine Devlin and Janice Cosgrey), the return of CDSHF Hall of Fame inductee Margie Mathews as well as perhaps the most prolific, fence clearing power hitter in PWSA history, Isobel “Izzy” Nichols. Speedy, hitting outfielders, Lea Ann Quinn and Vicki Wodzak were also recruited while the addition of Cathy Fertile and Lynn Lucas added depth to the infield.


The recruiting efforts yielded impressive results which allowed the Angels to make the competitive leap to Senior Tier II. Joining the Senior Tier II bracket cleared the way for the Angels to eventually leave their mark at the highest Provincial Tier I level. This tier of competition also provided the possibility for the Angels to compete for a Canadian National Championship nearly a decade later.

The decision to join the Senior Tier II bracket immediately paid off! The reorganized 1983 Angels won a bronze medal at the provincials that year and acquired Senior Tier II Provincial Championships in ‘84 and 85 and again in 1987. In 1988, the team was one out away from going to the Canadian Championships and settled for a Tier I silver medal.

Thereafter, Paul began to step back from his lead managerial role but the team continued its success by winning a Tier I Gold medal and with it, an unexpected storybook trip to the Canadian Championships in 1990.



In 1987, Paul Currelly, along with Faye Gaudet, Su Morrow, Jan (Bevan) Bradford and Bill Zinkie, among others formed a new minor girls’ organization with the appropriate title of Junior Angels. This organization served both competitive and house league female players. Paul was prominent as an organizer while spearheading the recruitment of sponsors and coaches as well as securing the use of playing fields, the purchase of equipment and the establishment of a league for the 4 provincial teams.

The present Angels continue to thrive as a highly successful entity despite a general decline in the sport within Canada. Since its birth, 6 provincial championships, as well as an Eastern Canadian Championship, have been accumulated as preparations begin for the 2022 season.



The impressive accumulation of provincial championships and other accolades cannot be the sole measures of success for someone such as Paul Currelly. A huge number of individuals have been influenced by his efforts and example. Paul’s consistently high expectations and structure provided an attractive environment for those players who had a competitive attitude. He must have held a deep affection and respect for the people who were fortunate enough to have been part of his extended sports family. 50 years is a long time to be so highly committed to creating such an excellent environment for girls fastball players.

Post Script

If Paul and Marian had 3 boys instead of daughters Carol, Nancy and Patsy, there is every reason to believe that a different path would have yielded similar results for all of those individuals fortunate enough to have been included in the journey.

Paul continued to coach into his late years as he joined with longtime friend and beloved Angels coach, Jim Morrow to guide a women’s Intermediate team. As a fitting bookend to Paul Currelly’s devotion to his family and sports community, he volunteered as a baseball coach for his grandson, Matt Williams. One of these teams, The Cobourg Black Sox, won a provincial championship in 1998.



The considerable number of articles, photographs, newspaper articles (Layton Dodge), memorabilia posted on the CDSHF Website, Paul Currelly’s notes and year end speeches and my personal memories from the 1980’s provided the foundation for the article.

The quality of the final version was improved by being granted the privilege of having numerous conversations with Carol Currelly-Burnham, Nancy Williams, and Patsy Hand (the 3 “sissies”). Their enthusiasm, warm memories, anecdotes and unrelenting “fact checking” breathed life into the narrative and allowed me to link the decades together into a story of sorts.

Finally, thanks also go out to present CDSHF Directors, Jennifer Ashley and Don Conway who both encouraged me to take on the task. I hope that my efforts will provide local sports fans and community members, as well as long distance internet visitors, a few minutes of enjoyable reading.

John Hayden Sr.


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Softball-Fastpitch-Ewart Timlin

Ewart Timlin

Softball-Ewart Timlin

Just a shade over eleven kilometers north of Cobourg lies a pretty valley right between two steep hills and therein lies the tiny hamlet of Cold Springs.

With a population today of less than 200 souls one would be hard pressed to imagine that anything representing this mainly rural community would ever gain much prominence, but that’s exactly what happened beginning in the mid-1970’s with the Cold Springs Cats emerging as a provincial fastball powerhouse, but the roots of that unforeseen success go further back still, all the way back to 1951 and the inside of an elementary school classroom at Cold Springs Public School.


One of the students in that class was a ten-year old Ewart Timlin and it was his grade five teacher, Ms. Hebert who helped to spark a desire inside of him, a passion that has remained with him over the seven decades that followed. In addition to teaching, Ms. Hebert also played hockey and softball, with a rather high level of proficiency. That influence along with that of his mother, Olive, and sisters Marie and Lorene, all of whom played on the Ladies softball team in Cold Springs helped draw young Ewart towards the sport. 

After a few years watching from the bench, taking the game in, slowly learning it’s intricacies, while all the while working towards improving his own skills, Ewart finally got the tap on the shoulder to take the field when he was 15 and in just five years he held the dual positions of player-coach with Cold Springs, a position he would hold for the next two decades (after which he commenced a 25-year Slo-Pitch playing career).


Serving in the roles of player, coach, and manager, Ewart Timlin guided the Cold Springs Cats throughout the 1960’s and early ‘70’s as a part of the Ontario Amateur Softball Association (OASA) and the Hamilton Township League, before, in search of a higher level of competition, the team petitioned to join the Peterborough City League for the 1975 season, and despite misgivings about their ability to compete, Cold Springs was reluctantly added to the league. A subsequent first place finish in the league and the OASA Intermediate C championship put those initial doubts to rest.

The following season, 1976, saw the “Cats” repeat as Ontario Intermediate “C” Champs and then four years later, in 1980, the “Cats” added the Ontario Senior “A” fastball championship to their ever-increasing trophy case. “That was the biggest highlight of my career” Ewart says today, “because no one expected us to win this prestigious Championship and represent Ontario in the Canadian Amateur Championship Tournament in Saskatchewan.”


By no means did the winning end there, and by the end of the decade, the Cats, still guided by Ewart, took home the OASA Intermediate B championship. And then came the establishment in the winter of 1995-96 of the Masters level by the OASA, a category designed for as Ewart puts it “players who had achieved a certain level of maturity in physical and mental outlook”.

What followed was a renaissance for the Cold Springs Cats. From 1996 to 2011 the Cats participated in more than 20 Masters events, winning 2 Canadian Masters Championships, an Eastern Canadian title plus three gold, two silver, and three bronze OASA Masters Championships. In addition, the Cats dominated the North Bay World Senior Men’s Fastball Championship, winning seven gold medals, and two silvers in their ten appearances.


Along with all of the team success a multitude of individual honours have been bestowed on Ewart.

In 1981, he was named the Citizen of the Year in Hamilton Township. Thirty years later, he was the first recipient of the Len Hewitt Award. In 2011 and 2012 the OASA named him as the association’s Honorary Vice-President and 2012 also saw him presented with the Cobourg Legion’s “Giving Back” trophy. Two years later in 2014, Ewart was inducted into the Ontario Masters Fastball Hall of Fame and four years after that he came full circle after he was named the Senior Citizen of the Year in Hamilton Township.


And yet despite all of the team success and individual honours, and they have been numerous, Ewart maintains this is only a part of what has made his lifetime spent in and around the sport of softball so rewarding.

"I love the game so much because of all the skill development involved, and the camaraderie," says Ewart, a retired teacher and vice-principal. "Off the field friendships are just as important than what happens on the field, and I've met friends from coast to coast because of my involvement in softball."

Surely, Ms. Hebert would look on approvingly.



Sport Team or Name This Story is about


Submitted byEwart Timlin (not verified) on Tue, 01/04/2022 - 00:23

An excellent summary of my history in softball

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Sports-Neil Cane

Sports-Neil Cane



Neil Cane was born in Cobourg on January 12, 1934. He lived most of his life in Baltimore, with his wife Shirley and five children, John, Laurie (Dynes), Peter, Cathy, and David.

As an athlete, Neil excelled at baseball, track and field, and hockey.

The earliest recollection of Cane's athletic ability started in 1948-49 when his Junior softball teams were crowned the Cobourg Rotary League Champs and also the Cobourg Labour Day Tournament Juvenile champs. In 1950, he was a member of the OASA Juvenile B Softball Champs.

He also won the Field Day Cup as the Junior Champion in Track and Field at CCI in 1948. Neil's track and field prowess was again evident at the Ontario Police Games One Mile relay. He was part of the winning relay team along with Art Round, Harry Sirrett, and J. Campbell.

Starting in 1959 Neil racked up hockey championships and personal awards. He was the Mercantile Hockey League MVP, and the teams he played with were league champs in the Hamilton Township Men's League. Twice he played on championship teams while playing in the Mercantile Hockey League.

Neil's actual job was manager of the Baltimore Recreation Centre for 22 years. When he started, there was only one baseball diamond. When he finished there were three additional fenced in diamonds, plus Neil got the old lights from Victoria Park for night games at Diamond #1.

He also added a playground, canteen and washroom facilities, a basketball court, and two volleyball courts. It became a first-class facility.

As many people have mentioned over the years, that although Neil worked for the Baltimore Recreation Centre, he practically lived there and did an incredible amount of work as a volunteer at the facility.

Not only did he do that, he was involved in many other aspects of the community. I always said jokingly, “If you added up the number of hours Neil actually worked at the park, he probably made a dollar an hour”.

I remember telling him that as part of a Millennium Celebration I wanted to build a conservation/educational area on the unused portion of land behind Baltimore Public School. It was a dream of mine that Neil turned into reality!

My first order of business was getting solid benches for the students that would last the test of time. Neil ordered six sturdy benches and I assisted (I watched) in cementing them into the ground. I made a cedar pathway around the entire area and we were pretty well done… or so I thought.

I asked Neil if he could build a semi-circular bench that could comfortably seat thirty children. That's all I needed to say. He drew up a plan and built the bench single-handedly. Later on he asked me if the area was being used. I mentioned that some teachers weren't able to manage the pathway and it was difficult for them to take their class to the top of the steep hill. Neil and I chatted and he said “You know what, we need to build steps with a rail.”

A week later I was looking out of the back window of my class and I saw two by fours and planks being tossed over the fence. I went back to investigate. There was Neil, alone, throwing the wood over the fence. He then proceeded to climb over the fence and commence working on the stairs.

In no time at all, the beautiful staircase was constructed and there were no excuses for the garden area not being utilized. I dedicated an area as Cane's Corner of the Millennium Garden to Neil and Shirley Cane and had a plaque attached to one of the benches recognizing Neil for his volunteer efforts.

No job was too big or small for Neil. His philosophy was, “Let's just get it done!” He didn't want the fanfare, he just wanted to see jobs completed. Another huge project he undertook was the construction of Jacob's Ladder.

Let's move along, there's so much more to tell.

According to Denine Page, Head Instructor at The Baltimore Figure Skating Club, “Neil was much more than the arena manager at Baltimore. He willingly involved himself with the coaches, skaters, and parents. I often consulted him with new ideas about programming for the skaters and appreciated his input as to how we could make things happen successfully.”

At the end of each season, the club would have their annual skating show. Once again, there was Neil volunteering to help with scaffolding, lights, decorations, and the sound system. He didn't stop there! He also volunteered to be the MC for the show and do all the announcing for the dress rehearsals and both the afternoon and evening shows!

Anne Quigley, President of Baltimore Minor Hockey, mentioned Neil's role in taking charge of lining up 1000 kids at the Cross Border Annual tournament opening ceremonies and offering assistance throughout the tournament.

Even after his retirement, he stayed involved by sitting on the Board with Anne. She noted that “Neil selflessly spent countless hours helping at fund raising events, often behind the scenes in the setup or tear down stage, never seeking the “limelight”. “The saying he was best known for was, “You kids just go home and get some rest before the big event, and I will take care of everything here.” And he never failed us!!”

His volunteering efforts were evident in Grafton, too! He was everywhere! Neil was a player in the inaugural Grafton Fastball Tournament run by Dick and Ann Raymond. “Over the years he would be a coach, an umpire, a groundskeeper, scorekeeper, announcer, and any other person we needed him to be,” according to Raymond.

No matter who you talked to in the Baltimore community and surrounding area, people admired him and respected him for what he did and what he meant to Baltimore. He was a tremendous role model to many individuals, including myself. The legendary Neil Cane was an iconic figure that we'll never forget.

Layton Dodge, Cobourg's sports writer summed it up best, “Neil Cane – Mr. Baltimore.”

Although Neil did not seek recognition, over the years he gathered a lot of hardware for his efforts as a player, as a coach, as an umpire, and as a volunteer.



1973 Certificate of Outstanding Service from the Cobourg Church Hockey League

Legion Baseball Awards: 1976 Certificate Of Merit

1980 Peewee Coach Of The Year

1982 Baltimore Minor Hockey Vice President

1989 Baltimore Arena Committee for “Devotion Of Duty”

1995 OASA Outstanding Service Award

1998 OASA Outstanding Service Award

2004 Cobourg Men's Softball League “Thanks For The Memories”

2007 Hamilton Township Senior of the Year

Paul Harris Fellow Award from The Cobourg Rotary Club

Baltimore Sports Complex Diamond #1 renamed signage “Neil Cane Diamond #1”



1948 Cobourg Rotary League Champs Jr. Softball

1948-9 CCI Junior Champion (Track and Field Trophy)

1949 Cobourg Labour Day Tournament Juvenile Champs

1950 OASA Juvenile B Champs

1952 Ontario Police Games 1 Mile Relay Winners

1959 Mercantile Hockey MVP Trophy

1965-6 Mercantile Hockey Champs

1966-7 Mercantile Hockey Champs

1972 Hamilton Township Men's League Champs

By Bryan Marjoram



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Sports-Neil Cane Obituary

Sports-Neil Cane Obituary

Cane Remembered as Tireless Volunteer

Published May 24, 2012 Northumberland Today by Jeff Gard 

A big void has been left in the community of Baltimore.

Former arena manager and longtime volunteer Neil Cane died suddenly on Monday. He was 78.

There is no denying the legacy Cane has left in the Township of Hamilton and surrounding areas.

"My sympathies definitely go to the family and friends of Neil", Hamilton Township Mayor Mark Lovshin said when contacted on Tuesday. "Quite an asset for Hamilton Township to lose. He had his heart within the municipality. He was always there when we needed him. He will be sadly missed." 

Visitations will be held today from 2 to 4pm and 7 to 9pm at the MacCoubrey Funeral Home in Cobourg. A funeral service will take place tomorrow at MacCoubrey's at 11am with internment to follow at Cobourg  Union Cemetery.

What George Quigley-who along with his wife Anne runs Baltimore Minor Hockey-will remember most about Cane is "his giving" and he expects he's not alone.

"That's what you'll hear from everybody," Quigley said. "(Cane was) always there for you. He would do anything."

Former Hamilton Township Mayor Forrest Rowden-who is a current Cobourg Councillor-was involved in municipal politics there for 18 years. He was mayor until 2006 several years after Cane had retired but still remained a loyal volunteer. In fact, a lot of the time Cane spent working while as an employee of the municipality for two decades could be considered "volunteer."

"Every 40 hours pay you gave Neil you had 80 hours work and that was a fact." Rowden said. "Neil felt that park was his backyard and he kept it just that way. He was so devoted to the community."

Rowden said Cane-who retired in 2000-hardly ever used his vacation time.

"He couldn't go on holidays because he figured he would be needed" Rowden said. "When he retired he was going to travel but Neil didn't want to leave the community. He wanted to be there."

"He was kind of like a legend" remarked Brian Marjoram "and I use that in a serious manner."

"Everybody knew him and everybody knew the work he did" added Marjoram, a retired teacher from Baltimore Public School. "He often did the work anonymously. He wasn't there for the accolades. He just did it because it needed to be done. He was one of those guys who grabbed the bull by the horns and got down to work. He was non-stop. No job was to big, no job was too small."

Marjoram worked closely with Cane on the Baltimore School Millennium Garden project. Some people Marjoram recalled, complained there was too much of an incline and they couldn't get up the hill.

"So Neil built stairs" Marjoram said, noting there was also a semi-circular student bench that could accommodate 30 children. "These projects, he would do many of them by himself."

Both Marjoram and Rowden credited Cane for helping to build Jacob's Ladder which leaves from County Road 45 up to Baltimore United Church.

Close friend Keith Curtis worked on many projects with Cane especially around the Baltimore Recreation Center. Curtis said Cane was always quick to lend a hand.

"He was just that kind of guy" Curtis said "When he was working (for the Township) he didn't just work for 40 hours; he worked the times he was needed. It could be midnight but if something needed to be done he would be there. He was just a great guy to be with."

Layton Dodge, the former longtime sportswriter for the Cobourg Daily Star said he always considered Cane to be "Mr. Baltimore" even though his contributions reached other communities such as Cobourg, Grafton and Cold Springs as well.

Dodge believes Cane was active in the Baltimore community for six decades. He also remembers Cane coming into Cobourg in the 1950s to referee all the minor hockey games with Lionel (Pat) Briand. They did it for free.

In addition "he coached just about anything there is to coach" Dodge said "and he was an excellent umpire; one of the better ones around."

Cane was involved with hockey, ball and figure skating in Baltimore.

In 2002 ball diamond No 1 in Baltimore was renamed the Neil Cane Diamond, a tribute to his contributions through the years.

Anytime there was rain Cane was quick to get outside and get the diamonds in shape as soon as possible. Often times portions of tournaments from other communities would be moved to Baltimore following rain delays just because the diamonds were ready to go due to Cane's work.

"The sports community is poorer because of his passing" Dodge said. "Everyone appreciated what he did. He was a hard worker. Anything that needed to be done he would do it. He was a great humanitarian and a real good Samaritan Extraordinaire."

Anne Quigley had just met with Cane this past week at the recreation center's outdoor summer canteen which is run by Baltimore Minor Hockey. She was going to get it ready for the season and phoned Cane.

"I knew better than to just go there and not tell him" she said. "Next thing you know he's there doing the grills and oiling them up and all the other things he's always done. He did them as a manager and he did them as a volunteer."

Next week he was going to help change the bulletin boards inside the arena.

"He was always still giving to minor hockey and any of the clubs here" Quigley said.

Quigley said Cane was known as 'The Boss'.

"He always took charge with whatever he did." she said. "It didn't matter if he was moving tables or chairs he directed everybody where they should put them and what the easiest way was."

Quigley said Cane earned all the respect that was shown to him. She recalled a time when the arena management board fundraised to purchase new fencing for ballparks which Cane wanted and was going to install. The rolls of chain-link fencing were delivered on a Friday night.

By the Monday, Cane returned to find all the fencing had been stolen. In a newspaper article Quigley said Cane voiced his disgust that someone had stolen from the community.

"The next night the phone rang and Neil said he had the fencing" said Quigley, noting she asked him "how?"

Ken Goodwin from Fisher's Foodland in Cobourg had read the story and offered to pick up the tab to replace the fencing.

In later conversations, Quigley talked to Goodwin about the gesture.

"(Goodwin) said "how do you not help someone when they have given so much to everybody?" she said "that's the kind of respect Neil had."

"Neil was the kind of person who was your friend, but he was your mentor too" Quigley added.

George Quigley said Cane offered his time very generously for minor hockey.

"We have to thank his family because we used him a lot and he didn't mind" he said. "He was with us a lot of times when he could've been around the house."

"Cane will be missed by the entire community" Quigley said.

"That's what it is; a community loss" he said.

Cane was the beloved husband of Shirley, father of John (Lena), Laurie  (Craig Dynes) Peter, Cathy and David and grandfather to Cody, Courtney, Aaron, Joshua, Jason (Deb) and Robyn. He is survived by his sister Ruth Bolderstone and predeceased by his brothers Lorne (Bus), Gordon, Bob, Doug, Harry (Mike), Ken, Allen, Percy (Bud) and several half brothers and sisters. He is fondly remembered by many nieces and nephews.

If desired, donations may be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation or Canadian Cancer Society.


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Basketball-History of LMBA

LMBA logo


The birth of the Lakeshore Minor Basketball Association (LMBA) coincided with the debut of the Toronto Raptors NBA franchise in the mid 1990’s. In its infancy, the youth league had one division of young adolescent players distributed among 4 teams. Initial financial support from local businesses and service clubs allowed the organizers to provide equipment and uniforms.

Over the course of the first decade, the league began to expand as it drew players from across Northumberland County. The league’s expansion was made possible through the generous support of the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board as divisional play took place at Port Hope High School, as well as Cobourg District Collegiate East and West. Presently, the LMBA conducts all house league games at Cobourg District Collegiate (CCI).


One of the factors that spurred the growth of the LMBA was that it drew upon a considerable pool of highly skilled older teenagers and adults to coach and fill other roles. Many of these people would not customarily have had the opportunity to contribute to a youth basketball programme that existed outside of the school system.

Through the years, the LMBA has drawn upon the leadership of numerous highly qualified and committed individuals that spurred the growth in player registration as well as improvement in programme delivery.

Initial founders and mainstays included Jim Birch, Keith Woods, John Hayden, Tom McIelwain, Tom Cable and Glenn Tozer. During the latter years and up to the present, key longstanding leaders and innovators have included Scott Fraser, Paul Van Laren, Eugene Todd, Will McCrae, and Paul Allen.

Over the course of its existence, the LMBA has achieved numerous significant milestones. In 2002/2003, the LMBA introduced the Lakeshore Lynx, its first Ontario Basketball Association (OBA) Rep team coached by Eugene Todd and Paul Allen. These two coaches guided the 2003/2004 Under 13 team to a provincial championship and repeated their success with the 2007/2008 Under 17 team.


2003 - 04 Lakeshore Lynx Major Bantam Ontario Cup Champions. Front row: Josh Oakman Allen, Charlie Davis, Chris Mullen, Robert Frame, Nick Wilson, Graham Gillies

Back Row: Paul Allen (Coach), Drew Tozer, Steve Holmes, Brad Trumper, Mike Traini, Jon Forget, John Gillies (Assistant Coach/Manager)


While the competitive programme was developing, the LMBA leadership undertook a series of house league initiatives. The expansion of the programme for younger players was possible due to the LMBA providing financial support for the installation of height adjustable baskets and the provision of an electronic scoring table at Cobourg Collegiate East.

Subsequently, the Executive expanded the house league programme to include the Under 10 age group. In 2012/13, the LMBA presided over promotional efforts to draw more girls to the programme.

In recent years, the LMBA established numerous educational sessions for coaches and players including Saturday morning activities and summer camps led by Jesse Young, the former captain of the Canadian Men’s National Team.


In 2019, the LMBA had 3 competitive teams and about 250 players registered in the house league whose ages ranged from 7-17. The growth in registration has been particularly strong in the younger age groups. Looking to the future, the organization has committed to improving upon the retention of female players by offering specific programming aimed to improve their confidence and engagement.

The LMBA is fortunate to have a very enthusiastic base of supportive parents, a dedicated and capable leadership and a skilled pool of eager coaches. The house league also benefits from having carded officials to referee house league games. One of the defining characteristics of the LMBA is the maintenance of its vision and guiding principles. The focus of the programme continues to encourage the learning of the rules, improving physical fitness and of course, having fun playing the game.


The Lakeshore Minor Basketball Association has proudly established itself as one of many impressive youth athletic programmes that currently serve Cobourg and the surrounding area.



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Harness Racing-Gord Sherwin

G Sherwin w-horse

Gordon Keith Sherwin
The Horseman -  By Gary May

Reprint Chapter 8 from “A Life Well Travelled” ‘The Story of Gordon Keith Sherwin’
Permission of Publisher ‘Your Story Publishing’ 2010 – Windsor, ON

Racing standardbred horses can be a dangerous sport. Gord Sherwin has had his share of injuries over the years, from having both shoulders separated, to breaking his leg. And there have been plenty of close calls, like the time he was tossed over a racetrack hub rail.

But working with any large animals comes with its dangers, Gord says philosophically. It's all a matter of taking care and knowing when to call a halt.

Gord’s career with standardbred horses began, naturally enough, through his trucking business, when his Baltimore friend, Jack Ball, asked him to haul his animals back and forth to fairs. His career as a horseman reached a zenith when he was named the 1986 Man of the Year by Harness Horsemen International.

Gord still hangs on to a couple of pacers at Grasshopper Flats, a private track near his Baltimore home that’s owned by old friend Cliff Hie. Gord begins each day with a five-minute drive out to the track barn in his 1993 Chev pickup to water and feed them, then leads them out to a paddock where they get their exercise. He mucks out the stables and gives the horses fresh hay. Then it's back in the afternoon to feed and water them again.

There's a dusty old radio in one corner of the barn. Gord leaves it tuned to the local classical music station, occasionally adjusting it up or down for his charges, Fiddlers Dream and King of the Clan. They seem to enjoy the soothing music, he says. But his training and riding days are behind him. "I just don't really feel much like doing it anymore."

When pressed, he will, reluctantly, talk about the various injuries he's suffered from working with the animals, starting back in the late 1950s.

Risky Business
"Once, in the barn I hadn't locked the door properly. I hear a click of a hoof on the cement. The horse is loose. I grab him. He knocks me down and steps on my leg."

Gord does not get it immediately looked after and continues with plans to help out at the Rotary Waterfront Festival in Cobourg. Luckily his physician daughter, Elizabeth, happens to be coming for the weekend. "She takes one look at it and advises an X-ray. I had a fracture in the lower leg. Here I'd been taking admission at the festival gate on a broken leg."

The worst spill he ever suffered came on the track at Orono.
"My horse stumbled. I ended up thrown over the hub rail."

"You've got horses going at top speed. All it takes is a minor misstep and you're in trouble. You could have a field of 10 horses. They go one mile in a minute and 48 seconds nowadays. When I started I’d win races with 2:08. Now under two minutes is normal”. (At two minutes a mile, the horse is averaging 30 miles an hour). "I think faster times are a result of better track conditions, lighter bikes and training methods."

So back in the '50s, Gord began hauling Jack Ball's horses for $5 a trip. It was enough, he says, to get him hooked. "When I started, we were just a bunch of farmers having fun. I remember seeing the Gary Cooper film, Friendly Persuasion. He was Amish. Had a buggy horse. Took his wife to church and his neighbour challenged him to a race each week. He picked up a pacer with good speed. One week the neighbour's waiting for him and challenges him to a race. The pacer leaves the old guy in the dust."

Gord chuckles. "That's the way it was with us, a bunch of old farmers raising, training their own horses." Gord began driving and racing horses before he ever owned one. "Jack Ball owned the Baltimore Mill, had a stable of horses. He got me involved with them. l used his cooper's shop down in the village as an office and a storage place. Kept my trucks there until I built a garage here at the house. That place was kind of like the local Hot Stove League. We'd play a little cribbage, gab with the local boys."

Gord got his driver's licence for horses in 1957.

"I'd been around Jack's horses, and driving them. We’d train them together. Better to train a couple or three together - they learn a little bit from one another. What they're bred for. They provide a little competition for one another. The first Saturday of June every year, they'd have a field day at the local race track. The races were recorded on the horses' racing record. I raced one of Jack's horses. Bud Phonograph. I ended up owning him a couple years later for a thousand dollars. But my first horse was Sun C Valley. She was a chestnut mare with a white blaze on her face, white feet. A classy-looking mare.

"When I first got started, they'd race once a week at Peterborough Exhibition Grounds. 'They had twilight meets. They didn't have lights. One of the first tracks I went to was the fairground at Norwood. I didn't drive there, but I was hooked by then; got my licence after that. Every community of any size had a fairground and there was a racetrack on the fairground, because that was part of the fall fair experience, standardbred racing. Then they started to put up lights so you could race after dark. Peterborough was one of the first to put up lights. Then Belleville did it.

"They started having a race every Friday night at Belleville, and then in Peterborough on Saturday night They were just local guys you were racing against. People from Warkworth, Campbellford, Marmora, Norwood, Lindsay, Port Hope, Orono.

"These places all had local horsemen, and it was really the grassroots of standardbred racing. It’s difficult to explain the satisfaction you get raising a horse, breaking it in, racing it and winning with it. I've had quite a few experiences with it.”

"I remember Saturdays spent at the race track in Peterborough," says Elizabeth. "As a family, we didn't have a cottage and we didn't do a lot of travelling. Every Saturday was going to the racetrack. Diana and I always wanted to go to Peterborough early so we could go to the material shops, because we did a lot of sewing. And Dad would say he'd be home in time.

“We would wait and wait and he'd always be late," she laughs. "He was busy. That would be disappointing, but that was what the business would require at that time."


Arts & Battles
Perhaps the most exciting horse Gord ever owned was one that didn't reach his potential until a winter on the Florida circuit. But when he did, says veteran trainer and driver Doug Hie, Cliff Hie's son, he showed more heart than just about any other animal Hie has ever known. No horse Gord owned over the years meant more to him than Arts & Battles. Sired by Meadow Battles, a top winner from the late 1950s and early '60s, out of Gord’s own brood mare Tar Peg, Arts & Battles was raised and trained by Gord from the time he was a foal.

The horse was named for his sire, and for horseman Arthur Beedham, who boarded him. In the late 1960s, "I started taking him to races and he became a top racer around Peterborough. He became the one to beat in his day.”

In the early '70s, Jay was attending Queen's University and already possessed a driver's licence. Gord asked him to run the horse one night at Peterborough. Gord couldn't go because he and Marion were committed to another event. 'When Gord arrived home that night, he asked Jay how things had gone. Jay smiled and presented his dad with a tape of the race. "We won," he said. "It was quite a thing for a young fellow like that to win," says Gord proudly. "He was pretty excited. Arts & Battles was a good horse. Had stamina and speed. He was always competitive."

While Gord frequently raced the horse himself, he would also call on Doug Hie to race him. Doug had a stable, track and exercise pool, which was a helpful tool in training horses without placing· so much stress on their tendons. Arts & Battles had suffered from tendon problems from an early age, and never seemed to achieve his potential - at least until Hie offered to take him on the Florida circuit one winter in the early '70s. Hie entered him in a lower-level competition at Pompano Park, and the horse won. Hie entered him again, and again Arts & Battles took the field.

"I turned him around in the winner’s circle and he got a standing ovation from the grandstands. I couldn't believe it. They were clapping and whistling. Everyone was standing. It just blew me away."

Hie called Gord to tell him Arts & Battles was going to receive the track's Presidents Award that year and Gord and Marion arranged to head down for the celebration. The day before the ceremony, Gord took in a race.

"On this occasion, he lost," says Gord, "but he was so used to winning that he turned around to go into the winner's circle and wait for his picture. The crowd saw this and reacted with a standing ovation." Gord's pride soared.

After the winter season, Gord entered the horse at Saratoga, New York. He and Marion chartered a small plane and flew to the track with Hie. They won. "The whole experience was quite a thrill," says Gord.

Back in Canada in 1973, Arts & Battles took half a dozen races at Greenwood, then considered the top standard-bred track in Canada. The next winter, Hie took Arts & Battles back to Florida and he won two of his first four races, placing second and third in the others. Then tragedy struck. The horse's tendon problems returned and this time, nothing could be done.

It was the end of racing for Arts & Battles, although he lived out his days with a man in Bobcaygeon who was delighted to obtain a horse of that calibre to pull his buggy.

“That was a horse that stands out in my mind," says Gord.

Adds Hie: "That horse had personality. He was cocky. He was a standout in my memory," says the man who has been racing for more than 40 years.

So, what happened to turn around the career of a horse that had earned only about $22,000 in his first five seasons? How was it that in his first winter in Florida he chalked up $40,000 in winnings?

"He was a totally different horse in Florida”, says Hie. “His legs were bothering him in Canada. I tried different training methods. I swam him in the pool and that really helped. He loved the pool. He always wanted to pass the other horses in the pool. He wanted to beat everybody.”

The Quinte Jug
Another one of the highlights of Gord's career as a horseman came in 1986 at the Belleville fairgrounds' Quinte Jug race, a takeoff from the Little Brown Jug, a top U.S. standard-bred competition. "There are eliminator races over several weeks to get down to a field of about seven. I had two horses, Bell Jet Ranger and Amboseli (named for an African game preserve). They were three- and four-year-olds. Jay drove Amboseli. It was a photo finish for one and two spots.

"As the judges were deciding between the two, and it
was so close, someone said, 'it doesn't really matter, because the same guy owns them both.' That was quite a thrill."

In 2010, Bell Jet Ranger was 26 years old, and living a life of leisure at Jay's home. She's the mother of Gord's current horses, Fiddlers Dream and King of the Clan.

Gord unloaded Amboseli at a claiming race for $30,000. Standard-bred racing is rarely a money-making pastime, says Gord. He lists the fixed costs of owning· a horse: $60 a week for feed, $20 for hay and $20 for bedding, plus utilities. 

He fondly lists off the other horses he's owned over the years. Jimmy Bellwin, Judicator, Robbie McGee, Colonel Philip, Call Me Spud, Mount Kenya, Roda's Angel, Shamaldas, Thebes, Dream Cast, Beautiful Sunday. (Just like Amboseli, Shamaldas and Judicator were eventually sold in claims races and went on to race for their new owners.)

At a claiming race, the owner places a value on his or her horse and enters them in the race with other animals of similar value. Interested buyers file their claim amount and their name is placed in a locked box. After the race, anyone who has filed a claim for the required amount buys the horse for that amount; a draw is held if there is more than one qualifying claim. Claiming races are competitive because they group horses of similar value.

"Sometimes I made money on my horses but most of the time, it's a losing proposition. It's not something you go into to make money. Over the years I've probably spent more than I've made, but I've had a lot of fun out of it. I've made some good friends.

"You didn't win every time you raced, but if you got a second or third, if you got in the money, you were happy."

Race purses are funded by wagering, with a set portion of the total wager applied to the pot for which the racers compete. The Ontario Harness Horsemen's Association was formed in 1961 to represent the standard-bred owners, and it is this association that negotiates with the track owners on the size of the purse and other conditions.

The Ontario association was divided into districts, each with representation to the provincewide organization. The Northumberland and Peterborough region was in District 3 and Gord was appointed to the Board of Directors for the district. In l980, he worked his way up to become President of the entire Harness Horsemen’s Association. (Today the association is called the Ontario Harness Horse Association.) He later served as President of the Canadian Horsemen's Association.

"We had tracks all over Ontario, from Windsor, Dresden, London, Hanover, Elmira - which was replaced by Grand Valley when the Mennonites objected to the slots being introduced - to Barrie, Sudbury, Kawartha Downs in Peterborough, Belleville, Kingston and Rideau-Carleton Ottawa."

Gord raced many of his own horses at some of those tracks, as well as at Woodbine, Greenwood, Mohawk and Flamboro Downs. Among them were Colonel Philip, Judicator, Robbie McGee, Arts & Battles, Bell Jet Ranger, Amboseli, Shamaldas, Belgaum, Rodas Angel and Dream Cast.

Track owners and horsemen would sometimes get into disputes over application of the rules. Disagreements arose over the percentage of the takeout from betting that would be applied to the purses. The association represented the horsemen's interests.

Gord was on the OHHA hiring panel in l979 when Joe Burke was hired as General Manager and Executive Vice-president. The two worked together closely from l980-85, the time when Gord served as President, and they became good friends. Burke believes there was always a natural affinity there, since he, too, had served as a navigator in the Canadian Air Force when he joined after the war.

"Gord put in a lot of hours as President," Burke says. "He's one of the finest gentlemen I've ever met. Hard working. High integrity. He put in a lot of time helping others. Gord always said if you look after the little guy, the big guys would be OK, too." Gord’s term was a time of rapid growth in the racing industry. Standardbreds raced all winter and night racing had been introduced. 

The thoroughbreds, represented by the Ontario Jockey Club, would arrive in spring and, with the growing popularity of standardbred night racing the thoroughbred owners wanted to capture a piece of the pie. This led to a dispute over the sharing of dates and times and as the dispute heated up, it fell to the Ontario Racing Commission to settle. The racing commission’s members were appointed by the Ontario government and it had a long reputation for being highly political. 

With the makeup of the commission in the early 1980s, "in our opinion, the commission was nothing more than a spokesman for the Ontario Jockey Club, which represented the thoroughbred owners," Gord says. "They dominated. We felt we weren't being treated as equal partners."

With the odds apparently heavily stacked against the "old farm boys" of the standardbred business, "we thought we were going to be pushed aside to satisfy the thoroughbred owners."


A very political dispute
It is the winter of 1984-85, the latter days of William G. Davis's premiership of Ontario. The harness horsemen decide the only way to gain the attention needed to get their point across in the dispute over night-time racing is to shut down the tracks. If there is no harness racing, the lost revenues should be enough to get some action, they reasoned.

The tactic worked. Representatives of the standardbred and jockey club organizations were summoned to Queen's Park to explain to a committee of the provincial government what the dispute was about and propose how best to end it. Gord recalls he and Joe Burke being in one room, the jockey club representatives in another. Davis and the cabinet are in a third room, with Davis confidante Eddie Goodman acting as the go-between. 

Eventually, Gord and Joe are asked to speak to the cabinet ministers and make their case. "We explained we wanted representatives, horsemen, on the Ontario Racing Commission, which had to approve changes in post times. The ORC were political appointments and not horse people. They had no knowledge of the business. That's what we told them.

"We had a brief meeting with the cabinet before adjourning to our separate quarters.”

The province agreed to the standardbred racers' demands and, in one of Davis's final acts as premier, it established a commission to study the racing industry. Soon afterwards, David Peterson became Ontario’s first Liberal premier since the Second World War, and began making some curiously non-political appointments. 

Peterson had already made former Tory labour minister Robert Elgie a member of the Workers' Compensation Board. Then he made former Conservative Cabinet Minister Frank Drea chairman of the Commission. He also made another interesting appointment. In January 1988, long-time and vocal Conservative Gord Sherwin was appointed to the ORC as a standardbred representative.

"I remember, I get a phone call from Harry Addison the (Commission) vice-chair, telling me the premier wants me to sit on the ORC. It's a Liberal government and I’m a known Conservative. It turned a few heads. This was a pretty prestigious appointment."

"It shows how highly regarded he was," says Burke, "to get that appointment when he's such a well-known Conservative. I think it helped that he was from a small area, where he'd raced primarily at the small tracks. Without having any connections to the big tracks around Toronto and Hamilton, it was felt he had no axe to grind."

During his years with the commission, Gord sat on various panels to hear the facts in disputes that usually involved driver infractions and accusations of illegal drug use and claims of inappropriate fines being levied. His work with the harness association ended with the end of his term on the ORC. "I'd been there long enough. It was time to move on."

While he enjoyed many happy moments on the track, Gord's biggest thrill in the sport came when he was named Harness Horsemen International man of the year for 1986. How could a man who waited nearly three decades before a horse he owned won a purse as high as $5,4OO be named the sport's top achiever? 
In an article published by HHI's magazine, Harness Horse, on the occasion, the magazine said Gord’s success "didn't really come from owning horses ... but rather for his untiring efforts on behalf of others involved in the sport and business of harness racing.

"He's fought hard for higher purses ... but even more important, he's been a champion for injured horsemen, fighting for increased benefits on their behalf," the magazine said. Gord was a skilled negotiator and became known for his fairness. His approach might sometimes have been gruff says Burke, "but he came across as very sincere. He was looked up to by everybody - people on both sides of an issue, racetrack owners and all. You just knew what a genuine person he is." 

Burke recalls all the times Gord would come out on Christmas Day to drive a truck so that one of his drivers could have a day with his family. "He looked after his workers very well."

After retiring from the racing commission, "I kept on racing," says Gord. "But the fun is gone out of it now. It's hard work, too. l still had race horses in the '90s. I raced Fiddler's Dream up to a couple of years ago.

"You're racing against professionals. I didn't want to do it anymore. Fellows weigh 120 pounds and I'm 220. That's the way the industry has changed. I felt I wasn't skilled enough to compete."

In the bone-chilling cold of January 2010, as he approached his 86th birthday, Gord decided it was time to stop driving the horses. Now his work with Fiddlers Dream and King of the Clan is limited to those twice daily visits to Grasshopper Flats to make sure they're well cared-for.

Jay's boyhood experience
Over the years, the horses became a sort of bonding exercise for Gord and his son, Jay. Jay's involvement in the business came early. “One summer day he called me, just before I was going to go to school at age six, and he said, 'you want to go to the races with Jack Ball this afternoon?' I said yes, I want to go. So he finished his work early that day and we went down to Greenwood in the Beaches. This would be about the summer of 1960.

"Jack hauled a horse in this truck, wooden sides, canvas top. We got the horse loaded in and they said, 'you get into the back and ride with the horse.' 

“So this was just tremendously exciting. We went up to Toronto. I remember being in the back of that truck, and looking out the back door, and seeing the cars go by and people looking at me and boy, did I ever feel special, because I was in the back of that truck with that horse."

They arrived at the racetrack and the horse was unloaded. “It was still early, so we went over to Lake Ontario and took our shoes off and put our feet into the water on a really hot day. Then we went back and got the horse ready. But kids weren't allowed into the paddock.

"So Dad said, 'you go up into the grandstand and when the race is over, you come back down here.' So there I was six years old and he sends me off into the grandstand alone. You could do that in those days and it was safe. But to me it also said that there was a level of trust there from him that I wouldn’t get into trouble and that I would know how to handle myself if a situation came along.” 

One incident that lies heavy on Gord occurred at Mohawk Raceway a few years ago. Jay had taken to racing standardbreds too, and drove many of Gord’s horses over the years. Gord and Jay had gone to watch one of his horses, Belgaum, which had just won a race and showed promise for the future. As the race progressed, Belgaum began to make his move, but there was a collision with another competitor. Belgaum, clearly in distress, pulled up and limped over the finish line. 

Father and son took the horse immediately to the veterinary clinic at Guelph where they learned Belgaum had suffered a sliced tendon. He wasn’t even able to stand on the leg and had to be euthanized.

“We went from great excitement to total letdown. That was a long trip home,” Gord says. “The empty trailer. That took the wind out of Jay’s enthusiasm for racing horses. It was a crowded field. Those things happen.”

Jay continues the story. “We were back to the track the following week with another horse and arranged with the administration to look at the tape of the race.

“We could see what happened and it was obvious that Belgaum’s driver had made a mistake. The driver had run the horse right into the back end of another driver’s cart and the horse had to stop or else run into the driver in front of him. And in doing that he had injured himself. It was driver error.”

The dejected father and son stared at the replay. “Dad said ‘I know what happened now.’ We turned around and walked out and Dad said ‘that’s just one we’ve got to forget.’ There wasn’t any going to the driver and berating him for making a mistake. It’s just ‘that’s what happened.’ A mistake was made and it’s over and done with. 

“Dad could deal with that and I couldn’t. I said ‘I just can’t take this horse business anymore, because you can never tell. There’s always a negative that comes after a positive. There’s just too much up and down. And I made a decision right there, I don’t want to be involved in this business anymore. It’s just too much heartache.

“For Dad he’d get over those things and carry on. He didn’t dwell on hard luck. He just accepted it and carried on.”

There is another lesson learned from Gord’s handling of the situation, too. In Jay’s words “it was honourable of him not to go back to the driver and make him relive that experience.” 



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Facilities-Recreation: Indoor



With athletics being a big part of this area’s heritage, facilities have developed significantly over the years.

In Cobourg, it is challenging to determine where the first hockey games were played, but it is assumed that they must have been played on the frozen ponds in the area. The first rink in Cobourg is believed to have been located at the site of the old jail, on the corner of Third and Albert Streets, from 1904-1906. In 1906, it was demolished so that the Cobourg Jail could be built. During the demolition process, part of the building collapsed and a Mr. Edward Terry was killed. 


Another rink, the Corktown Quarry Rink, was established in 1938 on Water Street, in Corktown. It was on the site of a former dump and when the quarry closed, the rink was established. In 1942, a wooden building on the North side of University Avenue West, between Division and George Streets, became the Ley Brothers Arena. However, in February of 1945 the building was damaged by heavy snowfall and was deemed unsafe for use. In 1947, the Town of Cobourg held a referendum on whether to build a new “Memorial Rink”. Apparently, the referendum passed because construction on Furnace Street began in August of 1949. 

The first game in the new facility was played on January 10, 1950. The new building burned down on August 17, 1953, exactly four years after construction began. It was quickly rebuilt and was re-opened on February 20, 1954. Due to the community’s high demand for ice, the “Jack Heenan Arena” (Pad 2) was built behind Memorial Arena and was officially opened on April 1, 1977. Jack Heenan had been the Mayor of Cobourg from 1961-1980. 

In the spring of 2011, with the opening of the new Cobourg Community Centre, the West Northumberland Curling Club (WNCC) signed a long-term contract with the Town of Cobourg to lease the Jack Heenan Arena. The WNCC is a 5-sheet facility which offers curling to all community groups. 

The Cobourg Community Centre opened in 2011, at a cost of approximately $27 million, and provides 2 ice surfaces (the Bowl & the Pond) and gym space for a wide variety of community sports and activities. It also has a running track surrounding the top of the Bowl and many rooms for small group activities/clubs.

The Rotary Waterfront Rink, with its own warm room and restrooms, was opened in 2008 and provides space for free recreational skating during the winter months. Memorial Arena was closed by the Town of Cobourg in August of 2019.

In Haldimand Township, hockey was popular by 1895 and many outdoor rinks were used for play. The first covered rink was in a building where the Catholic cemetery is now located, just south of the intersection of Aird St. and Lyle St., on the east side of the street, in Grafton. Five years later, it was closed and dismantled and residents returned to playing on the areas' frozen ponds and streams. Hockey boomed after WW1 and two more rinks were built in the 1930’s, but both were gone by the outbreak of WW2. The old sheds of St Andrew’s United Church were converted to a covered arena and flooded prior to WW2. 

The current Haldimand Memorial Community Arena was completed in 1949 and officially opened in 1950. It is located west of St. George’s Anglican Church, in Grafton, on County Road #2. Surrounding the arena is a park that originally had 5 ball diamonds. However, in 2018, diamond 5 (the SW diamond) was converted to a children’s playground. 

The Baltimore Community Centre is situated on 27 acres of park land, located on Community Centre Road, in Baltimore. The facility includes one ice surface with 6 dressing rooms, indoor turf sports field, banquet hall/kitchen, four ball diamonds, outdoor multi-purpose court, outdoor pickle ball court, two volleyball courts, 1.3 km paved walking trail and a picnic shelter. 

Prior to 2006, the Baltimore Community Centre, constructed in 1978, consisted of a 2-level building with a hall, stage and bar upstairs and a small seating area, full commercial kitchen (operated by the Baltimore Women’s Institute), and a 2 lane bowling alley downstairs. The arena (current Sabic Arena/turf sports field) was a separate building on the site. It had been a Wintario funded project and further fundraising was required from Baltimore residents. The fundraising committee consisted of Norm Gray (chair), Eleanor Tryon (secretary), Bernice Bell, Marion Sherwin, Lloyd Baxter, Neil Cane, Howard Toyne, Ron Willis, and John Wood.

When the new facility was built, in 2006, it had two ice surfaces (the smaller Sabic Arena and the larger Lion’s Arena). In 2014 turf was installed in the Sabic Arena which was converted into an indoor turf sports field. The main ice surface is NHL size and has the capacity for more than 800 spectators. 

The Bewdley Community Centre is located at 7060 Lake St., in Bewdley. The facility includes one ice surface, banquet hall/kitchen, community library, an outdoor multi-purpose court, and a ball diamond. The Bewdley Community Centre was formerly called the Vincent Massey Memorial Centre, named after Charles Vincent Massey who was a Canadian lawyer and diplomat. He was the 18th Governor General of Canada, and the first Governor General who was actually born in Canada. He retired to Batterwood House in the village of Canton, which is located near Bewdley. 

The land the facility is on was originally purchased in the late 1960’s for the purpose of building a school but it was sold in 1975 to Hamilton Township for the Vincent Massey Memorial Arena. It was constructed in 1975 as a joint venture between Hamilton Township and the former Hope Township. This was a Wintario project that included fundraising from the community. In 2009, the arena was renovated to include the new hall and library and Hamilton Township took over full responsibility of the facility from Port Hope (the former Hope Township) and at that time the name was changed to Bewdley Community Centre.

In Colborne, residents recall skating at Teal’s Pond, on Parliament Street, in the 1940’s. Discussions of building an arena began in 1964. Fundraising took place and the arena was built at the site of an old train station. It was first used in 1965 on natural ice, on a sand base, with no seating, not even benches - just the ice with sand on both sides. The arena wasn’t fully completed until 1967 when they received a Centennial Grant for artificial ice. 

The initial cost was only $35,000 because the land was donated and much of the labour was done by volunteers. The dressing rooms were tiny and a short time later larger dressing rooms were added to the outside of the building. Over the years, many renovations were done. The arena had wooden rafters and over the years dry rot resulted due to condensation. Annual inspections were required and in 1999 it was deemed the building would be condemned by 2001. 

Colborne and Cramahe councils joined forces in 1999 and started a committee to spearhead the construction of a new arena. Committee members included interested citizens as well as some members of Cramahe and Colborne councils and staff. The committee split into 2 groups: fundraising and building. The building committee had to find land, arrange for its’ purchase, and spearhead engineer drawings for the new arena so fundraising goals could be set. 

Fifty-six acres of land, where the Keeler Centre now sits, was purchased for about $250,000. Eleven acres were severed for the arena and the other forty-five acres were developed by the town into a residential subdivision. This property was originally called the “Fairgrounds” and had a racetrack on it. The Keeler Centre cost approximately 3.5 million dollars, including the cost of the land. No grant money was received so they had to take a loan, which has been fully paid off in recent years. Submissions were made from the public (contest with prize) for the naming of the arena and the winner was “The Keeler Centre”, submitted by Marion Miller, named after the founder of the village, Joseph Abbott Keeler. 

The Keeler Centre opened in September of 2001 with an official opening ceremony. It is a multi-purpose facility with an ice pad and hall. Rotary Hall is equipped with a full kitchen, has a stage and complete sound system, and can accommodate up to 250 people. The Keeler Centre also has a large outdoor space – fields with electrical panels which benefits outdoor events. 

The Alnwick Civic Centre is located at 9059 Country Road 45, in Roseneath. This Community Centre is perfect for large or small events, with a 400-person auditorium and a smaller 70-person community room. They are used for hosting a variety of events. The building also houses the fire department and local public library. It was opened on February 29, 1980, at a cost of $403,000 and was funded primarily through the Ministry of Housing, the Ministry of Culture and Recreation, a Wintario Grant, and generous donations from Mr. Jack VanHerwerden and Mr. Peter Feddema. The land was donated by the Roseneath Agricultural Society. 

Originally, it was used for recreational activities but currently is used mainly for civic and social events. The official opening ceremonies were held on June 2, 1980, and included children planting trees which had been donated by Mr. Rapsy. A dinner followed. (Roseneath Women’s Institute: Tweedsmuir History, Mothersill Printing Inc., 1981)

There are many other specialized indoor facilities in the region that house activities such as curling, dance, gymnastics, martial arts, bowling, fitness centres, etc. 

Updated August 2020

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Neil Cane was a much loved and respected member of this area’s sporting community. His athletic career included hockey, softball, baseball and high
school sports. Some of his accomplishments included winning multiple Ontario Amateur Softball Association (OASA) championships and MVP of the Cobourg Mercantile Hockey League.

He was a well-respected coach, umpire and referee in many leagues throughout our region. Neil’s real calling in life became volunteering and working in the local sporting community. Under Neil’s leadership, while working at the Baltimore Recreation Complex, he helped improve it in many ways. Lights for the existing diamond were installed and more diamonds were added, as well as a basketball court, volleyball court, canteen and washroom facilities. Neil was instrumental in fundraising for two arena constructions and more, facilitating its development into a first-class facility.

Over the years, he was the recipient of many recognition awards, including the Cobourg Church Hockey League’s Outstanding Service Award, the Legion Minor Softball’s Certificate of Merit and Coach of the Year, the OASA’s Outstanding Service Award in 1995 and 1998, the Baltimore Arena Committee’s “Devotion of Duty” Award, the Cobourg Men’s Softball League’s “Thanks for the Memories” Award, and The Cobourg Rotary Club’s highest award, “The Paul Harris Fellowship”. In 2007, Neil was named Hamilton Township’s “Senior of the Year”. Neil’s legacy of volunteerism is exceptional. His enormous contributions to our sporting circles were truly extraordinary and his memory will be forever etched in the heart of his community.

Sport Played That Connects To Collection List

Tennis-Cobourg Tennis Club


In the 19th and early 20th centuries in Cobourg tennis was played by the well to do people. The working class had neither the time nor the money to participate. Tennis was played on grass. The dress code was white for men and long dresses for women. One of the first games of tennis actually recorded in Cobourg was in 1879 on Colonel Chambliss’ grass courts located on Green Street. Don Armour and Jack Cruso were the singles players.

Private courts were also located on the ‘Lawn’ at the southwest corner of Queen and Henry St. There were also two on St Peter’s Church property east of the church. In the west end of Cobourg, the Fullerton’s had lighted courts at their Bagot Street residence.

At the beginning of the 20th Century there was a growing demand for public courts. So in 1910 the Town Council committed to putting in two lighted clay courts in Victoria Park. They would be just west of the lawn bowling club and in the vicinity of the cenotaph.

This dramatically increased interest and participation in the game. A tennis club was formed and Cobourg participated in the Lakeshore League with Port Hope, Bowmanville and Peterborough. There were upwards of 50 active and enthusiastic members.

Theses courts remained the center of tennis in Cobourg until the arrival of Hurricane Hazel in 1954 which caused extensive damage to the courts. It was decided the cost of restoring the courts was too prohibitive and the courts ceased to exist and never returned to the park.

Players of note during the latter part of its existence included such notables at Paul Leonard, Del Dillon and Sol Margles. Of particular interest was Jim Burnett who, in one year won the Junior championship and the Senior one as well. Quite a feat!

Tennis went into the doldrums for a period. Players gravitated to the Port Hope Club to play and to the private clubs around the Town. In 1959 Major Ernie Carey and Major Waters had courts put in at the Army Depot on D’Arcy Street. The Depot raised funds to have the courts paved. The first indoor court in Cobourg also on Depot property in 1960 was a converted shipping bay. In 1959 St Michael’s Church constructed two new permanent tennis courts on its asphalt school yard. But they had limited success in keeping tennis alive in the Town.

It was not until the Rotary Club of Cobourg under Ted Prosser proposed to build and pay for three lighted courts at Sinclair Park in 1972 that interest came back. The cost was $30,000. Both the West and East Collegiates put in courts and Jim Burnett put up a trophy for annual competition between the two schools. Of note, the Burnett trophy was won by Peter Cameron for three consecutive years. No other student has ever done this.

The Cobourg Tennis Club had re-formed in 1969. Club teams competed in the Lakeshore League which included five other centers. In 1971 the first Cobourg Tennis Open took place with over 250 participants including the Ontario Men’s Champion.

In 1976 the Rotary Club of Cobourg fundraised another $30,000 to build three more courts in Coverdale Park in Hamilton Township, just east of Cobourg. The President that year was M.A. McLeod and the building was done in conjunction with Wintario Lotteries. The Coverdale Athletic Association was formed to supervise all activities. Membership was 150. The building of all these courts stimulated a golden age for tennis in the Town.

Today tennis continues to prosper at the two parks. New members are always welcome.

As a footnote to the tennis history is the success story of Michelle Tuma. She is a local young lady who graduated from St Mary’s High School. Michelle learned to play tennis in the community and went on to play at Ohio Northern University on a tennis scholarship. While there she held the number one tennis position in both singles and doubles. She is now a pharmacist practicing in the United States.

At the 2019 COSSA regional tennis championships finishing in top 3 were: Girls Singles – Chloe Leguard of CCI; Girls Doubles – Brooke Hoskin/Ashley Landsley of CCI; Boys Singles – Matt Enns of St Mary’s; Boys Doubles – Lewis Odurny/Ethan Fishlock of St Mary’s; Mixed Doubles – Neve Lehtinen/Jamie Slessor of St Mary’s.

Updated August 2020

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