Combining the knowledge he gained as an athlete, with his strong leadership and teaching skills, this exceptional volunteer has contributed over half a century to the development of sports. Growing up in Port Arthur he started his minor hockey career in Hilda’s Pee Wee hockey league, making his way up through the minor ranks as a top scorer with the Port Arthur Flyers. Quarter backing Port Arthur Collegiate football teams, he was also a standout on the pitching mound for the Port Arthur Red Sox.
Graduating from PACI in 1955 he made his way to North Bay to attend Teacher's College. Accepting a teaching position in Dryden he remained active in baseball and played intermediate and senior hockey with the Dryden Rockets, returning to the club in later years to play Oldtimers hockey.
It was during the late 1950s that he started to get involved in the building side of sports going on to coach a number of teams in little league baseball, football and minor league hockey. A respected official, he earned his Level 4 National Referees and Level 5 National Coaches certifications and served as an instructor. If a sporting event was being held in Dryden, chances were this dedicated builder was involved in some way, helping to host provincial high school championships, regional hockey tournaments and district sporting events. Chair of the Dryden Athletic & Recreation Commission and serving fourteen years on Dryden City Council, including six years as Mayor, he supported a number of sporting initiatives.
Well respected throughout the region for his hockey knowledge, he served as President of the Thunder Bay Amateur Hockey Association from 1979-82, the first person from outside of Thunder Bay to lead the regional group. A member of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association and Hockey Ontario Development Committees, he also served on the Northwestern Ontario Regional Sports Council and on the Board of Directors and the Selection Committee of the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.
Named the 1974 Dryden Sportsman of the Year, he received the 1987 TBAHA Meritorious Award and was named a Life Member in 1988. Recognized nationally, he received the prestigious Hockey Canada Order of Merit in 1993 and the 2002 Golden Jubilee Medal from the Government of Canada. In 2002 the Superior International Junior Hockey League named their championship trophy the Bill Salonen Cup in honour of this outstanding builder.
Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 27th, 2014