George Armstrong joins our Sports Hall of Fame

Left to right: George Armstrong, Arthur (Laurie) Irwin, Pat (Watt) Friesen, Norm (Charlie) Ahier and Annie Fahlenbock
Left to right: George Armstrong, Arthur (Laurie) Irwin, Pat (Watt) Friesen, Norm (Charlie) Ahier and Annie Fahlenbock

George Armstrong, captain of the 1967 Stanley Cup-winning Maple Leafs, is one of five 2015 inductees into the Leaside Sports Hall of Fame.

Armstrong, who has lived in Leaside since 1960, will be honoured at a ceremony and reception at Leaside Arena on Nov. 20 along with Charlie Ahier, Annie Fahlenboch, Pat (Watt) Friesen, and Arthur (Laurie) Irwin.

Tickets for the third annual Hall of Fame event go on sale Oct. 1 and will be available from any of Leaside’s sports associations or at the arena. Leaside’s Athlete of the Year, to be announced in October, will also be recognized that night.

Norm (Charlie) Ahier  |  Baseball  (1949 –  )

Charlie Ahier’s family moved to Leaside in 1959 where he began playing hockey at Leaside Gardens that year and baseball at Trace Manes Park in 1960. His father Norm was president of the Leaside Atom Baseball Association (LABA) which, since 1953, has organized baseball at Trace Manes for boys 9-11. Norm coached with the LABA 1969-77 and 1984-87. In 1988, with strong encouragement from Dr. Tom Pashby, Ahier took over as president of the LABA where, together with volunteers, he emphasizes working together with teammates, developing skills and sportsmanship, while always having fun playing baseball.

George “The Chief” Armstrong  |  Hockey  (1930 –  )

George Armstrong was born in Bowlands Bay, Ontario in 1930 and in 1960 became a resident of Leaside, where he and his wife Betty raised their four children. Armstrong played 21 seasons in the NHL (1949-1971), all with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and proudly wore the C for 13 of those seasons, serving as the team’s longest running captain. He led the Leafs to four Stanley Cup victories in 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1967 and was best known for his remarkable leadership. Conn Smythe called him “the best captain, as a captain, the Leafs have ever had”. Armstrong was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975. A proud Leaside resident for over 55 years, Armstrong always enjoyed riding his bike through the streets of Leaside with his family and coached local sports teams, including girl’s baseball at Trace Manes Park. He also coached the first Canadian Special Olympics floor hockey team, based out of Beverley Street Public School in Toronto.

Annie Fahlenbock  |  Women’s Hockey  (1980 –  )

Annie Fahlenbock was born in 1980 and played hockey with the Toronto Leaside Wildcats 1988-1993. She was named to Team Ontario in 1997 and played in the National Women’s Hockey League (precursor to the CWHL) where she received rookie of the year honours in 2000. Fahlenbock attended the University of New Hampshire (NCAA Division 1) 2000-2003 on a hockey scholarship and served as team captain in her senior year. She coached for a year at McGill University, then joined the Leaside Wildcats Learn to Play program as its head instructor where, since 2005, hundreds of young female athletes have absorbed her love of the game while developing their hockey skills. Fahlenbock is an exceptional and passionate teacher.

Pat (Watt) Friesen  | Multisports  (1937 –   )

Pat Watt was born in East York and attended Leaside High School 1952-1955. She represented the Leaside Tennis Club, winning the Canadian Women’s Doubles Title in 1954 and the Canadian Junior Tennis Title in 1955. In 1954, her Under Eighteen basketball team, Leaside United, captured the Ontario Junior B Championship. In 1958 she competed as catcher for a local team in the World Softball Championship, and in 1962, played on the Eastern Canada Senior Women’s Basketball Championship team. Watt and her mother Kay were founding members of the Leaside Curling Club. In her 25 years of curling, Watt’s rink won many bonspiels including, in the late ‘60s, the Seven-Year Fillies’ bonspiel at High Park.

Arthur (Laurie) Irwin  |  Basketball  (1903 – 1991)

Long-time Leaside resident Laurie Irwin made a significant contribution to basketball over four decades. He coached both men’s and women’s basketball in the 1920s winning numerous Toronto and provincial titles. As president of the Canadian Amateur Basketball Association he was manager of the Canadian team for the 1948 Summer Olympic Games in London, England. After the Olympics, he represented Canada at a conference to develop an updated set of rules which all countries would adopt. Laurie, a senior executive at Canada Wire, advocated for the company’s support of the Leaside Baseball Association, which included sponsoring teams and funding the construction of both scoring booths at Talbot Park.