Friday, 13 November 2009

The 'Pegger Who Pulled the CFL Together !

G. Sydney Halter had a huge impact on the local and national sports scene, though most sports fans wouldn't recognize the name.

Halter was born in Winnipeg on April 18, 1904 and graduated from law at the U of M in 1927. His interest in sports administration came early as he managed the U of M Hockey team while a student there.

Winnipeg Tribune Feb 17, 1942:

Soon after graduating he was involved in the reorganization of the Winnipeg Football Club and from 1935 to 1953 held many positions on the Bombers' board including treasurer and president.

Between 1938 and 1946 Halter
also had stints as president of the Amateur Athletic Union of Canada and the Winnipeg Amateur Athletic Association, not to mention positions with numerous community-based teams and organizations such as the YMHA bowling league.

Winnipeg Tribune Sept 9, 1942:

During World War II the "tall, eloquent lawyer" served with the R.C.A.F..

In 1953 Halter was appointed Commissioner of the Western Interprovincial Football Union (WIFU). He felt that it was time “to organize Canadian pro football ... all matters pertinent to it at this time can be handled on a national basis under the jurisdiction of a single central office” and set out to create a single Canadian Football League.

On January 22, 1956 the deal to establish the
Canadian Football Council (it was renamed league in 1958) was finalized here in Winnipeg at the Royal Alexandra Hotel on Main Street and the driving force, G. Sydney Halter, was chosen the first commissioner. He guided the league through its formative years, 1956 to 1966. (That made him the man with the tough decision to halt play at the 1962 'fog bowl' Grey Cup game and resume play the next day - a championship that Winnipeg won !).

Halter was dedicated to a sport of the four-legged kind as well. From 1972 to 1982 he was chair of the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission. Under his tenure Assiniboia Downs expanded its thoroughbred racing season from 42 to 120 days and he created a rural harness racing circuit.

Winnipeg Stadium

After Halter's death on October 14, 1990
a number of local sportsmen, CFL commissioner Crump and G. Sydney's brother Aubrey pusehd to have the stadium named the G. Sydney Halter Memorial Stadium. Winnipeg Enterprises, however, stood firm in its practice of not naming sports facilities under their administration. (WFP Feb 20 1991 p43).

For his life's work Halter was made an Officer of the Order of Canada (1977) and has been inducted into numerous Halls of Fame including: Canadian Sports; Canadian Amateur Sports; Manitoba Sports; Canadian Football; Canadian Jewish Sports; Canadian Horse Racing and Canadian Olympics.

When you sit down to watch the CFL playoffs this weekend take a moment to remember the Winnipegger who pulled it all together !

- Thanks to Dr. Reese Halter for providing the playing card image !

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