Art Ross of Boston Bruin Fame Grew Up in the Sudbury Area
In 1931, Art Ross, while coach of the Boston Bruins, was the first coach to substitute a sixth skater by benching the goalie.

In 1931, Art Ross, while coach of the Boston Bruins, was the first coach to substitute a sixth skater in a playoff game with the Montreal Canadiens by benching the goalie.

Before Sudbury became a town, before even Canada became a country, northern Ontario was home to many traders and factors who ran trading posts for the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Fur Company. Evidence exists that the North West Company had built a post on La Cloche Island in 1790. The Hudson’s Bay Company had posts located near the Spanish River (1820), Lake Wanapitei (1822) and Whitefish Lake (1824).

The Hudson’s Bay Company came into existence in 1670, and was granted a charter from King Charles II which gave them a monopoly over fur trading rights in all the land that was watered by streams flowing into Hudson Bay. They enjoyed these monopolistic benefits until the North West Fur Company of Montreal challenged their authority and a battle raged culminating in a slaughtering of animals that were being killed at breeding times and the fur supply was threatened.

In 1821 these two companies merged under the name of Hudson’s Bay Company and their license was extended to encompass regions as far north as the Arctic Ocean as well as west to the Pacific Ocean. In northern Ontario the factors of these trading posts did a brisk business with the Indians of the area who traded furs and skins for British goods.

The Hudson Bay Post in Whitefish Lake where Art Ross was born.

The Hudson Bay Post in Whitefish Lake where Art Ross was born.

One such factor was Thomas B. Ross who in 1871 took over the operation of the post at Whitefish Lake just south of Naughton. The post was extremely isolated and could only be reached by canoe. Mrs. Howey, wife of Sudbury’s first doctor recounts her first visit to the trading post in 1883 in her book Pioneering on the C.P.R. She arrived at the post with some some preconceived notions and a fair bit of curiosity. She was amazed to find that there were such civilized things as gardens, chickens and a cow at the post and that Mrs. Ross had born eight children on her own at the isolated post. Born and raised in southern Ontario, Mrs. Howey had visions of war-painted faces and the like before visiting the Indian village that lay about two miles from the post. Instead she recounts tales of gracious hospitality.

Thomas Ross made twice yearly trips to Little Current by canoe to pick up supplies from the Chief Factor’s post. The Ross’ remained at this post until 1887 when it was dismantled and moved to an area located between Simon and Mud Lakes. The Ross’ continued to operate the post until 1892 when the family, which now included thirteen children, moved to Lake St. Johns, Quebec. The post itself remained until 1896 when competition from the town of Sudbury made it an unprofitable venture.

KenoraThistles1907January

Art Ross (front right) was on the Kenora Thistles team which won the Stanley Cup in 1907.

The most famous member of the Ross family was Arthur Howey Ross, godson of Dr. and Mrs. Howey and coach and general manager of the Boston Bruins four times between 1924 and 1945. Born on January 13, 1886, he was the 12th of the 13 children that Thomas and Mary Ross had. He grew up speaking fluent Ojibway and learned how to skate on Whitefish Bay using old-fashioned clamp-on skates.

Besides coaching his team to the Stanley Cup three times he also invented the style of hockey puck and B-shaped goalie net in use today. Somewhat of a character, according to various stories published on the N.H.L.’s history, Art Ross carried on a feud with Con Smythe, past coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who believed that “Art Ross’ chief goal in life was to make a fool out of me (Smythe)”.

Perhaps one of the best stories of their rivalry takes place during the 1930s when the Leafs were scheduled to play in Boston. At a previous game Ross accused the Leafs in general and Smythe in particular of lacking class so at the next scheduled game, Smythe took out ads in all the Boston papers that invited Bostonians “to see the team with class-the Maple Leafs”. He rented a tuxedo with top hat and tails and wore it to the game. At the time Ross was recovering from a hemorrhoid operation so Smythe bought a large bouquet of roses with huge thorns and on the accompanying card he wrote in Latin “Insert these up your you know where”. He gave the roses to his defenseman King Clancy and asked him to take them across the ice to Ross. At first Ross was perplexed by this gift but then accepted it as a nice gesture, he also thought that the note looked good even though he couldn’t read Latin. He shook Clancy’s hand and passed the roses and note to the woman seated next to him. She accepted graciously until she read the note telling her where she could put the roses!

Their rivalry continued until after WWII when Conn Smythe, on learning that Ross had two sons who had served during the war with excellent  records, figured that “anybody who could rear two boys like that must be all right.”

Art Ross (back row, 4th from left) played on the Ottawa Senators' team in 1914.

Art Ross (back row, 4th from left) played on the Ottawa Senators’ team in 1914.

Art Ross died on May 8, 1964 at the age of 78 in Massachusetts. Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Art Ross is immortalized in the history of the N.H.L. Because of his innovations and the respect garnered from his coaching abilities, the Art Ross Trophy is awarded annually to the player who compiles the highest number of scoring points during the regular hockey season.

Though he did not return to Sudbury he once replied to a letter Mrs. Howey sent him when news of his appointment as general manager of the Boston Bruins reached Sudbury. In his reply he told Mrs. Howey that he had fond memories of Naughton and had passed through it many times though he was disappointed that his family home was no longer standing. “You need not fear,” he wrote, “that the writer has but a great deal of pride in his birthplace.”

The "SO" in the call letters for CKSO stands for Sudbury, Ontario.
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In March 1956, Sudbury Aviation Limited inaugurated its flying school on Whitewater Lake in Azilda. At the time, it was the only school authorized by the government to train pilots in Northern Ontario.

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