Down Memory Lane - Jake Gaudaur
Down Memory Lane Articles - by Stan Shillington
A long time ago, perhaps before you were born, athletes could enjoy participation in more than one sport.
You see, seasons didn't violently overlap. Hockey ran from October to April which allowed the pucksters to pick up a lacrosse stick or baseball bat for a summer's pleasure. The latter two activities ended, of course, in time for the start of hockey, football or soccer.
Exceptional athletes occasionally overlapped one sport with another -- no one said you couldn't. Then, seasons were extended; for example, hockey stretched its season into June, followed by exhibition tournaments and early team scrimmages leading into the September kickoff for the next season. Huge contracts also dictated outside activities.
Yes, there were National Hockey League players who stayed in shape with a summer of lacrosse -- , , , , , , , for example. And there was triple-threat Lionel Conacher, who excelled at lacrosse, hockey and football.
Add Jacob Gill Gaudaur to the list of multiple star athletes.
Jake Gaudaur was born October, 5, 1920 into an Orillia, Ontario, family that encouraged its son to enjoy, and excel in, all athletic endeavors. After all, Jacob Senior was a professional oarsman who was judged the World's Best in 1892.
In high school, young Jake played football, rowing and basketball, juggling his time schedule with outside activities such as hockey and lacrosse.
Life was hectic, but the rewards were boundless. His Orillia Junior 'C' hockey club won the Ontario championship which was followed by Orillia's 1937 Minto Cup lacrosse title. A year later, Jake captured the National Junior singles rowing honours and was named the North American Schoolboy Oarsman.
Service in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War diminished his extensive sporting life, but not to any extent that you would notice. Organized lacrosse and hockey may have been shelved for awhile but Jake still managed to win the National Senior rowing championships in 1941 and was a member of the Toronto RCAF football team that took the 1942 Grey Cup.
Following the war, Jake and seven partners purchased the Toronto Indian Football Club with intentions of distributing any profits to all of the players.
"The operation was a success (ethically) but the patient (the Indians) died," Jake later observed.
However, he returned to lacrosse in 1946, putting in a full season on defense for the Hamilton Tigers. The following year, Jake, along with of hockey fame, signed to play lacrosse with Quebec City Montagnards of the Quebec Lacrosse League; but his lacrosse sojourn was later set aside to concentrate on on a whopping $750, full-season salary to play football with the Montreal Alouettes.
Jake returned to Hamilton in 1948 but, after squeezing in just five boxla games with the Tigers, found the hectic life of raising a family, working as a heavy duty truck salesman and playing pro football forced him to mothball his gutted stick.
Jake retired as a football player after helping Hamilton win the 1953 Grey Cup and immediately took over the team's presidency, later adding the general manager's position major club shareholder to his curriculum vitae. Between 1962 and 1985, Jake was commissioner of the Canadian Football League and a director of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
Jake Junior later joined his father as inducted members of the Orillia and the Canadian Sports Halls of Fame with the scion adding the distinction of becoming a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and being honoured with the Order of Canada.
Currently a resident of Burlington, Ontario, (ed. note: as of this 2005 story), Jake laments that "lingering lower leg, football-related injuries caused me to give up downhill skiing" at the age of 75 and golf at 83.
"But," he added, "in my 85th ,year, I still do the two-mile, outdoor walk each morning regardless of weather."