Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An Honour for Bob Goldham

On Thursday June 16, 2011, family and friends of the late Bob Goldham gathered for his induction into the Halton Hills Sports Museum. The Hall of Fame induction Gala took place in Christ the King Secondary School. The former National Hockey League defenceman became a member in the athlete category.

Bob Goldham was born in Georgetown, Ontario on May 12, 1922. His mother Flora, managed the family home and carried out her responsibilities as a homemaker. On Main Street, Henry Goldham worked as a butcher, providing his family with food and shelter. Bob Goldham gained his education while attending Georgetown High School and Northern Vocational High School in Toronto. As a youngster, he excelled in several sports including lacrosse, rugby/football, track & field and basketball. Like most Canadian kids, Goldham also had a desire to play hockey. And in the late 1930s, there was no better place than Georgetown for a player to work on his game in a structured environment.

In 1936 a local citizen, Gordon Alcott, started a youth hockey organization in Georgetown. Sponsored by the Canadian Legion, the league was named the Little NHL. A total of 150 boys ranging in age from 8 to 13 years took part in the action. On Saturday mornings, the Little NHLers would take over the Georgetown Memorial Arena. At the midget level, teams were named after clubs in the National Hockey League. Bob Goldham suited-up for the Georgetown Leafs. Rosters were supplied with replica sweaters which matched their NHL counterparts.

From these beginnings, Goldham never failed to recognize the impact Gordon Alcott's venture had on his early development in hockey. He was the first graduate from Georgetown's Little NHL to advance all the way to big league competition. Within the community, he became a hero and role model. Young or old, people looked up to and admired this homegrown portrait of success. The lad who lived on John Street was going places. This trait would follow Bob Goldham throughout his life.

Bob Goldham never forgot his roots. In the early 1940s, Alcott formed another Little NHL in Copper Cliff, Ontario. By this time, Goldham was serving in the military and skating for Toronto Navy (OHA-Sr.). In January 1943, Goldham and his Navy teammates were scheduled to play a contest in Copper Cliff. Arrangements were in place for Goldham to visit with members of the Little NHL. As Gordon Alcott pointed out in a correspondence to Mr. & Mrs. Goldham (Jan.23, 1943), "Bob was so very good to come out to the stadium, right from the train and without break feast. The youngsters were certainly pleased to see him and they have been talking about him all week."

Bob Goldham with players from the Little NHL in Copper Cliff, Ontario. Photo courtesy of the Goldham family
The season prior to Goldham's expedition to Copper Cliff  he played in his first National Hockey League game with the Toronto Maple Leafs. On January 26, 1942, newspaper reports informed the hockey public Goldham was being summoned from the Hershey Bears (AHL). In an attempt to shore-up the defence, Goldham got the call from Hap Day.

Goldham's first contest, a road game, occurred in Boston Garden on January 27, 1942. He arrived in Beantown on game day from Hershey. Although Toronto and Boston skated to a 0-0 draw, Goldham's name appeared for the first time on an official NHL summary sheet. In the second period, he was assessed a two-minute minor penalty for tripping Dutch Hiller.

In the final frame, Goldham led a rush up ice and fed "a perfect forward pass to Schriner (Sweeny), who banged one off  the net posts from eight feet out," wrote a scribe in the Globe and Mail. The next day, part of the Globe and Mail headline read, "Goldham Turns In Impressive Chore."

Over 12 NHL seasons (Toronto, Chicago & Detroit), Bob Goldham participated in 650 contests and recorded 171 points (28 goals & 143 assists). In the playoffs, he played 66 games, scoring 3 goals and adding 14 assists. Goldham captured hockey's grand prize by winning 5 Stanley Cups. He gained a spot on the NHL Second All-Star Team in 1955. Also, he played in 6 NHL All-Star Games. Goldham's final campaign in professional hockey came in 1955-56 with Detroit.

One of Goldham's greatest skills was blocking shots. "It is my opinion that Bob was the first in the league to implement the defensive style of blocking shots, which was tremendously complimentary to the goalkeeper, " notes Glenn Hall. The Hall of Fame goalie had a front row seat, from where he could observe teammate Bob Goldham performing his magic game in and game out.

As if being associated with one illustrious institution (the NHL) wasn't enough, Goldham became an on-air talent with Hockey Night in Canada. In his autobiography, "Walking with Legends", Ralph Mellanby the former executive producer, described Goldham's style as a broadcaster.

He had character and an innately likeable manner that really came through and contributed directly to his great popularity. He wasn't controversial, but he'd tell it the way he saw it - plainly, and never with an edge
.In June 1946, Goldham married Elinor Alicia Platt. The couple raised three daughters - Patricia, Susan and Barbara. To get some insight into Bob Goldham, the family man, his daughter Barb answered some questions for Hockey Then & Now via email.

We just celebrated Father's Day. Describe your dad as a father and person

 I know that everyone thinks their Dad is the best, but my Dad really was. He was such an amazing person and that made him an amazing father. He was an intelligent man and used to edit all of my essays, even in university. He was so kind and generous. He would take us Christmas shopping and buy us whatever we wanted. We loved it because he never looked at a price tag! A girl's dream come true. He was very funny. He had a huge repertoire of jokes that he loved to tell over and over and we would listen, like we had never heard them before! He could light up a room when he walked into it, and he made everyone feel special. He was sincere and genuine. You never doubted his feelings. He was extremely athletic, and very handsome. I was so proud of him. Whenever we were out in public I would proudly hold his hand and wanted everyone to know that my dad was Bob Goldham and I was very happy to be known as his daughter.

What was it like having a dad who appeared each week on the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast?

 Well I was in high school, so all my classmates thought it was pretty cool. They always asked me if we were really rich. So I would ask my Dad and he would say that the bit of extra money from Hockey Night in Canada helped buy things for up at our cottage. He was very low key about it. We would also go shopping at Yorkdale, and people were always pointing and staring at my Dad and he would giggle and if they asked him for his autograph he would gladly oblige. He was a real people person. All my friends and boyfriends adored him and loved hanging out with him!
 I also went to most Saturday night games with my mom. We would wait for my dad after the game outside the Leaf dressing room and every week I got a ton of autographs. I was a huge fan of Jim Dorey, and Darrly Sittler, but unfortunately they were older than I was.

If there is anything else you would like to add, please do so

 I am a teacher and now I just supply teach. When I go to school I always take my Dad's hockey cards so I can educate the kids about my special dad. They are all so interested and I give them the website for hockey legends so they can learn more about him!
 Also, he died at the very early age of 69, and a day doesn't go by that I don't talk about him or think about him. I retell his jokes, or will hear a song on the radio that reminds me of him.
 I just wish that he was still around. My daughters are both athletic and he would have loved to watch them at their sport. My eldest is an avid skier and has even worked at a ski hill in New Zealand for a season. My youngest is on a Volleyball scholarship at a Division 1 school in the States. Unfortunately he died when she was only 6 weeks old.

You must feel very proud to have your dad inducted into the Halton Hills Sports Museum?

 We are all very proud and extremely grateful that Doug Wellington made it possible. It was a great night and I will never forget it and neither will my husband or children.

A Family Photo. Left to Right - Rod (Barbara's husband), Leah (Rod & Barbara's daughter), Patricia (Bob's daughter), Jimmy (Patricia's son), Barbara (Bob's daughter), Ali (Rod & Barbara's daughter), Margaret (Goldham cousin), Anne (Margaret's daughter). Missing from the photo is Bob's daughter Susan, who was present for his induction ceremony. Photo by Ron Stiel.

As Barb alluded to, the driving force behind Bob Goldham's induction was Doug Wellington. A friend of the Goldham family, Doug is Bob's biggest supporter. If you require information concerning Bob, the first person that pops into your thought process is Doug. For this piece, he was most helpful in supplying research material. He is a true gentleman, who loves sports. Like Bob, he has a passion for the game of lacrosse.

 To recognize Doug's efforts, Barb (L) and Patricia (R) presented Doug with one of Bob Goldham's vintage lacrosse sticks. Photo by Ron Stiel.

Joining Bob Goldham and Gordon Alcott (Builder-Hockey) as inductees were - Bob Hooper (Builder-Hockey), Bert Zonneveld (Builder-Soccer), John Dallison (Builder-Tennis), Clive Llewellyn (Athlete-Wrestling), Gerry Inglis (Athlete/Builder-Hockey).

Doug, always the team player, requested the following individuals/companies be acknowledged for their contributions.

-Mr. Dave Kenter and the Georgetown Hockey Heritage Council
-Mr. Ron Lefevre, VP & Director of the Bob Goldham Memorial Christmas House League Tournament
-Mr. Finn Poulstrup, Chairperson Halton Hills Sports Museum
-Mr. Steve Forman, Vice Chairperson, HHSM
-Mr. Bruce Andrews, Curator, HHSM
-Mrs. Glenda Nixdorf, Director and Secretary, HHSM
-Mrs Theresa Campbell
-Sherwood Copy
-Endzone Sports
-McKab Taxi
-Peel Landscape Depot
-McDonald's Halton Hills
-Art Affects


  1. Thank you for the extremely interesting article about Bob Goldham. One of my first TV sports memories was watching my Dad point Bob out as the players swished around on a snowy black and white television screen in a hockey game that must have been from the tail end of Bob's career. My great-grandmother was in the room also and was perhaps seeing TV for one of the first times. It was a thrill for her to watch her grand-nephew Bob even though she (and me) had scant appreciation for what NHL hockey was all about. But she spoke about Bob's accomplishments with pride.

    Thanks also for the information about his family. I always wondered about his descendants. We were from Kitchener and would visit his mother and father, Harry and Nellie Goldham in Georgetown at least once a year and they would return to see their Aunt Flo (my great-grandmother) who lived with us.

    I am surprised about your reference to Bob's mother's name as Flora. She was born Flora Ellen Erwin and was always called Nellie as far as I know.

    Anyway, I am not an avid hockey fan but stumbled across your well crafted article while reading general information on internet. If any of Bob's descendants read this, would be interested in corresponding.

    Daryl Smith, Kitchener,

  2. I had the pleasure of working with Bob's daughter Susan at the Ontario Water Resources Commission. She then went onto sneior positions with ethe Ministry of Trade and Development and worked directly for Claude Bennett, a senior Minister in the Bill Davis government. Would like to reconnect with Susan since I lost her phone number some time ago. Max Weissengruber