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Born in Rainy River in 1919, Bill moved with his family to Port Arthur in 1920. Getting involved in athletics at an early age, he went on to enjoy a successful and diversified sports career as both an athlete and builder. Throughout his high school days he claimed championship titles in both basketball and football. In fact his talents on the gridiron earned him a reputation as a triple threat halfback who could kick, pass and run and who contributed to Port Arthur Technical School's championship junior season in 1936 and senior title in 1938.

On the soccer field his talents as a goalkeeper led to three City titles for the Port Arthur Legion from 1937-39 and two more City titles with Brent Park from 1940-41. The fastball and softball diamonds saw Bill in action on first base for many seasons, with teams such as the Port Arthur Seniors, Red Sox and Giants benefiting from his strong fielding and hitting abilities.

It was in the hockey arena that a lot of people will also remember seeing Bill. Not only did he play the game for 20 years, he officiated for over 40 years and also served as Manager of the old Port Arthur Arena during the 1950s. Playing on defence and right wing with the Port Arthur Bearcats and Port Arthur Shipbuilders he competed in the 1942 and 1944 Allan Cup finals. Known for his strong skating abilities and blazing shot, he netted an amazing 6 goals in one senior final game against the rival Fort William Legion.

At the age of only 16 Bill donned his soon to be familiar striped shirt and whistle for the Port Arthur Minor Hockey League marking the beginning of an amazing officiating career. Moving up to the Thunder Bay Amateur Hockey Association in 1948 he went on to oversee Western Canada, Allan and Memorial Cup finals. Respected by those on the ice, and in the stands, for his sense of fairness and knowledge of the game, it was of little surprise to see him selected as 1 of only 2 Canadians to referee hockey at the 1960 Olympic Winter Games in Squaw Valley. Offered the opportunity to become an official in the AHL Bill chose to remain in his hometown, and his community is fortunate that he did so, with thousands of athletes benefiting from his officiating expertise.

Bill's 40 years officiating on the ice was equalled by his years on the football field as a referee with the Lakehead Rugby Football Union and with the Superior Secondary School Athletic Association. Serving as the Referee-in-Chief for the SSSAA he not only oversaw games he also held training and upgrading clinics passing along his talents to others.

When you add to this impressive list of achievements the fact that Bill also served as a high school basketball referee, the Umpire-in-Chief for Little League Baseball, an umpire for senior baseball and softball, a starter in track and field, an official for the 10-Mile Road Race, a coach of minor hockey, baseball and softball teams and painted the ice for local figure skating carnivals, it is little wonder that he earned a spot for himself in the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 1983 as a Builder.

Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, October 1, 1983

Bill McKenzie

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