Balance, Fair Play Community
It started as an idea in 1975 and it grew into one of Canada’s largest Oldtimers hockey clubs. The Burlington Oldtimers Hockey Club began when Russ Dean rallied all Oldtimers to play a National Tournament in Peterborough.
The players, Dean and Jerry Large, who coached that first tournament, began to create a local league in Burlington. Guy Ouelette, Gerry Park and Jim Verral were instrumental in forming an eight-team league.
There was also the community aspect. Membership in the community derives from a conscious sense of belonging. “ I really believe that” said Ouelette. You can give something back to the community. It’s more than just hockey. Hockey was the excuse but it’s about the fraternity, the friendships and the building of a strong community.
A number of dedicated people like Jim Verral, Bart Grainger and Ron and Barbara Harker went beyond the call of duty. The potential league had its first meeting on January 29, 1975 and a slate of 15 directors were named. The first registration signed 128 players and 20 on the waiting list. Registration was $50 for 24 games. The referee’s were volunteers.
Ice time was a problem back then as well. The City of Burlington wouldn’t surrender any ice time for a fledging league, so the first two seasons were played in Hamilton. They started with a total of 8 teams split into two divisions. In a letter to members, dated April 23rd 1975, Ouelette said, “ The Burlington Oldtimers Hockey Club is the start of something real big in our community…”
There was a league with players and teams. There was a charter, a board of directors and soon their own logo. Bill Dagleish, developed the logo, Bill had a lot of grey hair and he actually skated like that,” said Park. “ It was almost like he took a picture of himself and drew it.”
The 1st Invitational tournament was held in March 1977 with 16 teams participating. The trophy was presented by Hockey Hall of Famer Fred “Cyclone” Taylor, who presented the league with skates he wore in the 1920’s or 30’s.
Since it’s inception the Burlington Oldtimers Club has given back to the community. It has fundraised for Mainway Arena, donated to Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, a variety of other charities, and sponsored minor baseball and minor football. “We are committed to fund raising efforts for the community” says current President Gary Marshall. In the last 3 years, BOHC has donated over $22,000 to the Carpenter Hospice. The BOWSER Food Drive has been a current event since 1992. By the end of 2007-8 season, members have donated over $93,000 in cash and over 59,000 food items.
By 1977, ice was available in Burlington and the club added two more teams. In 1978, the club grew to 3 divisions of four teams. The club was soon expanding quicker than the NHL. In 1980, two more teams were added. Then in 1983, four more teams were added.
By 1986 the club expanded to 24 teams in four divisions. In 1990, the club added two more teams bringing the total to 26. In 1992, another division of 6 teams was added. The largest jump occurred in 1999, which saw the club go from 30 teams to 42. Since then, with the expansion of Appleby to a quad facility, another division of 6 teams was added in 2010, bringing the Club total to 8 Divisions, and a total of 48 teams.
The Club is proud of its ongoing contribution to the Community and it’s “ Fair Play and Balance” philosophy.