A perennial image on the sports scene of Thunder Bay (Port Arthur) for over 40 years, Gordon 'Phat' Wilson enjoyed an exceptional amateur hockey career in the early days of this region’s illustrious hockey history.
Born in Port Arthur in 1895, Wilson got his first taste of hockey in the local church leagues. Not even knowing how to skate when he tried out for St. Andrew's in 1914, he mastered not only the blades, but the stick as well, moving on to the senior ranks in 1918.
Joining the lineup of the Iroquois Falls team in the N.O.H.A. League for the 1921-22 season, he competed in what would be the first of many Allan Cup play downs. Returning home to the Port Arthur Seniors the next season, he went on to become a major force in the success of his hometown in Allan Cup play. His hard work and dedication saw the Port Arthur Seniors capture the region’s first Allan Cup title in 1924-25, an accomplishment repeated in 1926 and again in 1929.
A brilliant defenseman remembered for his rink-long rushes, he won several scoring titles throughout his career, including the Thunder Bay Senior Hockey scoring title in his last three years as an active player. Not surprisingly, he was offered many professional contracts, however, he turned them all down, remaining instead in his hometown. Given the fact that he was 30 years of age when he captained the Seniors to their first Allan Cup title in 1926, his accomplishments on the ice were that much more impressive. Retiring from active competition in 1933 at the age of 37 years as a playing coach, he moved behind the bench to coach Port Arthur again in 1938 and 1940.
As well as being an outstanding hockey player, this exceptional athlete was also a stand-out baseball player and he contributed his talents to the building side of that sport. In 1952 when Little League baseball began in northwestern Ontario, he served as the first President of the Port Arthur National League going on to become the first Little League District Commissioner for the area.
Not surprisingly, Gordon 'Phat' Wilson's incredible athletic abilities did not go unnoticed on the national scene. In 1962, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, becoming one of very few amateur players ever to be so honoured.
Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 25, 1982