Some Canadian Naval Ice Hockey Stars and Personalities

by John M. MacFarlane 2012 (Updated 2015)

RCN Hockey Team

RCN Hockey Team (Photo courtesy of MMBC collection (MMBC991.068.0005.050))

Wartime could not slow down the Canadian love for hockey. The patriotism of many professional hockey players provided the Navy with some top notch talent. HMCS York (the Toronto Division of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve) had teams in the Ontario Hockey Association for two seasons during the Second World War. In 1942–1943 they lost the championship in the final game. However in the 1943–1944 season they fared much worse finishing out of the playoffs.

Ted Bedard

Signalman Ted Bedard RCNVR (Photo courtesy of the Bedard collection)

Ted Bedard was born in North Bay Ontario on January 21, 1924. He served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War. His son Marc Bedard reports that "His full name was Robert Yvon Joseph Bedard, "Ted" was a nickname he received in his youth. My father would have played on the Navy team in Charlottetown in 1943/1944. As you can see from his naval picture when he was discharged he was a Signalman. He did several months of convoy escort duty on the Atlantic out of Halifax in HMCS LaSalle. His first rank upon enlisting was a Stoker 2nd class, then Ordinary Seaman before he became a Signalman RCNVR. After the war he attended the University of New Brunswick 1946–1951. He played hockey for Scollard Hall juvenile team in 1941–1942; he played for the North Bay Trappers Junior B team in 1942–1943; in spring, 1943 he was drafted by the Galt Kist Canadians to play Junior A hockey but joined the Navy in late summer, 1943. He played hockey for the Navy team in Charlottetown for the winter of 1943–1944 while he was posted to the HMCS Queen Charlotte. The team played in the PEI Senior Hockey League. After the war ended, he was discharged in October, 1945 and as he had not completed high school, he did that during the fall & winter of 1945–1946. In the fall of 1946–1947, he enrolled at the University of New Brunswick in Forestry. He played hockey for UNB in 1947–1949. UNB had hired Peter Kelly to start their varsity hockey program. Pete was a former NHLer who won a couple of Stanley Cups with Detroit in the late 1930s. Ted was named MVP of the team in the 1947–1948 season and was captain of the team in 1948–1949. He stayed involved with UNB hockey and was the Assistant Coach under Pete Kelly from 1957–1966. After his university time he spent a career teaching at the Maritime Forest Ranger School in Fredericton, retiring in 1984. He died in Fredericton New Brunswick on 21/10/2010."

Joe Bell came from Portage La Prairie MB. He was a junior hockey star for the Portage Terriers. In 1942–1943, he gained a roster position with the New York Rangers. He participated in 15 games scoring 2 goals and adding 5 assists. He was appointed as an Ordinary Seaman RCNVR 1942. He was trained as a radar operator. He served in HMCS Barrie. He served in HMCS Kapuskasing. He was demobilized in 1945. While serving in the RCNVR he played for Winnipeg Navy, Cornwallis Navy and St. John’s Navy. After his naval service he played for the New Haven Ramblers and Hershey Bears of the AHL in 1945–1946 scoring 46 goals, Bell played in 47 games with the New York Rangers (6 Goals/4 Assists). He later played in the AHL, USHL, PCHL, and the Seattle Bombers of the WHL in 1952–1953.

Lawrence "Lorne" Freemark served with the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War. He played junior and senior hockey in Renfrew Ontario and one year in the English National League playing for the Harringay Greyhounds 1947–1948. He died in Renfrew Ontario aged 84 on 09/06/2009.

Dudley "Red" Garrett He played defence for the Toronto Shamrocks (1940–1941) and the Toronto Marlboros in the Ontario Hockey League 1941–42. That same year he also played in the Toronto Independent Hockey League Red Indian chiefs 1941–1942. He was traded by the Toronto Maple Leafs to New York. He was a professional ice hockey defenceman who played 23 games for the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League in the 1942–43 season. He played six games for Providence in the American Hockey League in 1942–43. While serving in the RCNVR he played hockey for the Sydney Navy, Toronto Navy and Cornwallis Navy hockey teams. The Dudley "Red" Garrett Memorial Award is awarded each year to the player in the American Hockey League for the most outstanding rookie. Garrett joined the RCN and was lost in the sinking of the corvette HMCS Shawinigan 11/1944.

George "Hully" Gee was born in Stratford Ontario on 28/06/1922. He spent two years playing hockey on the Cornwallis Navy team. After his naval service he began his NHL career with the Chicago Black Hawks in 1945–1946. He played in Chicago until 1948 when he was traded four games into the season to the Detroit Red Wings. Gee name was engraved on the Stanley Cup with Detroit in 1950. After only three seasons in Detroit, he rejoined the Hawks for the start of the 1951–1952 season and remained there until the end of his NHL career in 1954. Gee died on January 14, 1972 while playing for the Detroit Red Wings Oldtimers. In between the 2nd and 3rd period of a game, Gee went outside to smoke a cigarette, and while smoking, he had a severe heart attack and died.

Wallace Edwin Halder was born in Toronto 15/09/1925. He played in the Junior Ontario Hockey Association from 1938–1940, first with the Toronto Young Rangers, and then with the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, before joining the Toronto Hockey League’s (TOHL) Toronto Tip Top Taylors from 1940–1943. He was appointed as a Probationary Sub-Lieutenant (Temp.) RCNVR. He was appointed as a Sub-Lieutenant (Temp.) RCNVR (With seniority dated 01/02/1943). He was appointed as a Lieutenant (Temp.) RCNVR. He served in HMCS Matane. (He was demobilized.) He played five games with the Toronto Navy hockey team. In 1946 he rejected an offer to join the New York Rangers because he wanted a no-trade contract and instead joined the Toronto Barkers of the TOHL, where he was playing when the offer came in for him to join the RCAF Flyers, Canada’s ice hockey delegation to the 1948 Winter Olympics where he was the team’s top scorer, with 21 goals in eight games, helping his team secure the Olympic gold medal that year. He retired from active play after the Olympics and coached hockey at the University of Toronto from 1949 through 1951. He was the founding President and Chief Executive Officer of the Olympic Trust of Canada and was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 2008. He received personal inductions into the University of Toronto Sports Hall of Fame in 1990, as well as the Canadian Armed Forces Sports Hall of Fame. He died in Toronto 27/10/1994.

Doug Harvey was born in Montreal 19/12/1924. After enlisting in the Royal Canadian Navy he played for Montreal Navy (MCHL) 1942–1945. After his naval service he played professionally for the Montreal Royals, Montreal Canadians and the New York Rangers. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest defencemen to ever play the game, winning the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league’s top defenceman on seven occasions. He died on December 26, 1989.

Bob Hayes was born at Perth Ontario in 1933. He joined the RCN as an Electronics Technician. He left the navy as a Petty Officer in 1958, joining Saint Mary’s University (SMU) as Director of Athletics. He led SMU to a Vanier Cup Championship in 1973. He died at Halifax NS on 25/06/2009.

Phil "Nip"Hergesheimer was born in Winnipeg MB on July 9, 1914. He served in the RCNVR and played hockey on the Ottawa Commandos from 1943 to 1944, and the St. John’s Navy team from 1944 to 1945,. Hergesheimer was a five–star American Hockey League All–Star Game Champion, and the winner of the Calder Cup Trophy in 1946. By 1951 his career had totaled 288 goals and 265 assists for 553 points in 548 games. He retired in 1955 as the second–leading goal scorer of his era, and today still ranks 20th on the league's all time list. ( He died in Kelowna BC on March 6, 2004

Norm Howe

Petty Officer Norman Leonard Howe RCN with his illustrious brother Gordie (Photo from The Crowsnest.)

Norman Leonard Howe was the brother of hockey legend Gordie Howe and was a hockey star in his own right, playing semi-professional hockey in southern Ontario. He served in the Royal Canadian Navy as a Chief Petty Officer. He contributed greatly to the performance of naval reserve hockey teams fielded by UNTD Officer Cadets who were training on the West Coast and were scheduled for games against Esquimalt–based civilian hockey teams. It wasn’t until the games were under way that the opponents would realize that there was a ‘ringer’ on the roster. His daughter Heather reports that "My dad was a goalie while he played in the navy. " Howe went on to serve with the Land Forces in Germany before his retirement. His brother Vic Howe played 34 NHL games with the New York Rangers before becoming a Constable with the Canadian National Railway Police in Moncton NB.

Norm Howe

Petty Officer Norman Leonard Howe RCN with his winning HMCS Saguenay team. (Photo from The Lookout clipping courtesy of Heather Howe.)

Norm Howe

Petty Officer Norman Leonard Howe RCN played for HMCS Stadacona in 1961. (Photo clipping courtesy of Heather Howe.)

Charles Herbert Little was born in Mount Forest Ontario on December 11, 1907. He was a scholar as well as a sportsman. He was so successful playing hockey that he was offered an NHL contract with the Montreal Maroons. He declined the offer to accept a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University – his sports skill contributing to his selection. While at Oxford he was captain of the Oxford University Ice Hockey Club that won the Spengler Cup two years in a row. He went on to a distinguished wartime and peacetime career as an officer in the Royal Canadian Navy who was renowned as the ‘Father of the University Naval Training Division (UNTD)’. In 2000 at the age of 92, he dropped the puck at the start of the 100th annual Oxford vs Cambridge Ice Hockey game. He died at Ottawa Ontario on January 10, 2004.

George Mara was born in Toronto 12/12/1921. He started playing hockey at Upper Canada College in 1937. By 1941 he was already playing for the Toronto Marlboros. When he graduated in 1942 he was playing for Toronto Navy in the Toronto Hockey League. He had joined the navy as a Lieutenant RCNVR. He went on to play for Halifax Navy and the Toronto Staffords. Halifax Navy played the the Halifax City League and for 4 seasons 1940–1946 won the league championship except 1942–1943. They also won the Maritimes Intermediate Championship 1941–1942, After the war he joined the RCAF Flyers hockey team representing Canada at the 1948 Olympic Games. He was the team captain and scored 17 goals. In the 1948–49 season he played 7 games with the Montreal Royals of the Quebec Senior Hockey League. He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1976 and the Canadian Olympic Order in 1994. He was elected to the Canada Sports Hall of Fame in 1993 and to the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 2008.

Fred Shero

Fred Shero (Photo from

Frederick Alexander "The Fog"Shero was born October 23, 1925. Shero was the son of Russian immigrants who moved to Winnipeg to avoid religious persecution. At age 13 he became a Canadian Bantamweight boxing champion. He served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War and played hockey for the Navy as a member of the HMCS Chippawa Navy team. After retiring as a player, Shero continued to coach. He coached for the Philadelphia Flyers (1971–1978), New York Rangers (1978–1980). He died in Camden New Jersey on November 24, 1990.

Edward "Eddie" Stanley Slowinski was born in Winnipeg MB on November 18, 1922. He played 291 games in the National Hockey League, mainly with the New York Rangers. He played with the Ottawa Army hockey team and then the Ottawa Commandos. (He may have served in the RCNVR.) He died on August 21, 1999.

James Gaye Stewart was born in Fort William Ontario 28/06/1923. Stewart was called from the minor leagues in 1942 to play in one game of the Stanley Cup Finals, where he helped the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup. The next season, Stewart won the 1942–43 Calder Memorial Trophy, beating out Maurice ‘The Rocket’ Richard of the Montreal Canadiens. He spent two years serving in the RCNVR in 1944–45 and played for the Montreal Navy (MCHL) and Cornwallis Navy (NSDHL) teams. He died on 18/11/2010.

Henry Spencer ‘Spence’ Tatchell was born July 16, 1924. During the 1942–43 NHL season he played for the New York Rangers in his only NHL game. During the 1943–1944 season Tatchell played with the Cornwallis Navy team. On 12 January 1944, the New York Rangers traded Tatchell to the Montreal Canadiens but Tatchell spent the following year in naval service and did not play in another NHL game. Following the Second World War Tatchell played with both the Nelson Maple Leafs and the Kimberley Dynamiters in the Western International Hockey League before retiring from hockey in 1954 and died on January 8, 2007.

Not exactly a ‘hockey star’ Murray Westgate was familiar to all Canadians who watched Hockey Night In Canada. He was the face in the ESSO gasoline advertisements that characterized the show for years. Arthur Murray Westgate joined the navy as a Probationary Sub–Lieutenant (Temp.) RCNVR. He was appointed as a Sub-Lieutenant (Temp.) RCNVR with seniority dated 19/01/1942 and appointed as an A/Lieutenant (Temp) RCNVR (With seniority dated 15/01/1944) and confirmed as a Lieutenant (Temp.) RCNVR (With seniority dated 15/01/1944). After his naval service he was a very recognizable film, stage and TV actor. He was well known for the sixteen years while representing Imperial ESSO in TV commercials on the ‘Hockey Night In Canada’ sports broadcasts. He was also an actor who played small parts in Canadian productions such as ‘Jake and the Kid’ and ‘Seeing Things’. He was living in Toronto ON in 2008.

Another hockey personality with naval connections was Conn Stafford Smythe. Smythe played hockey for Upper Canada College and Runnymede Collegiate Institute in the 1930s and then went to the University of Toronto where he graduated with an engineering degree. He played one season with the Varsity Blues men’s ice hockey team. In the 1940–1941 season, he briefly played with the Toronto Marlboros. After his naval service, he became a partner in his father’s gravel business. In the late 1940s, he was hired as coach of the Marlboros by Harold Ballard, the team president. Smythe was later promoted to Managing Director. He served as President of Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd. and the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team from 1961–1969 and from 1970 until his death. The Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the Most Valuable Player of the Memorial Cup tournament, is named in his honour. During the Second World War Smythe was appointed as a Probationary Sub-Lieutenant (Temp.) RCNVR and then confirmed as a Sub-Lieutenant (Temp.) RCNVR with seniority dated 10/08/1942. He served in H.M.S. St. Vincent for #72 Observer Training Course. He served in H.M.S. Goshawk (Piarco Trinidad) for Observer Training and on completion was appointed as a Lieutenant (O) (Temp.) RCNVR (With seniority dated 10/08/1943). (He was qualified as an Air Observer and with a Watchkeeping Certificate.)

To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (2012) Some Canadian Naval Ice Hockey Stars and Personalities. 2012.

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