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Ready To Walk The Hall: Colin Graham was local maverick – maybe didn’t even know it

November 4, 2021   ·   0 Comments

Colin Graham was born in Sussex, England in 1944. One of eight children, Graham was the son of an English war bride and a WWII veteran.

The family decided it was in their best interest to emigrate over to Canada.

“We settled on Hanlan’s Point for about six or seven years and then we moved to Etobicoke,” Graham said.

His parents always encouraged all of their children to be active and to find a passion. Graham and his older brother Raymondfound a love for the game of hockey. They were involved in playing the sport up until around 16 years old.

A year later, Graham got into coaching hockey and it was also the decision where he decided to go to work early.

“I unfortunately didn’t finish high school. I went out to work for Neilsen’s for three years until 1965 and then I moved on to work for Shaw Laboratories where I worked for 50-and-a-quarter years.”

The same year he went to work for Shaw was the same year he got married. Graham was only 20-years-old.

But, from here, it was the start of something Graham didn’t even expect.

He embarked on this unforeseen journey. He taught himself how to coach hockey based on his own teachings as a former player. He enlightened young players who suited up to take the ice and he molded young personalities because, in his eyes, it was all about the children and to make sure they were having fun.

He began that journey in Etobicoke with a long-time friend managing young teams.

In 1970, Graham moved north to Aurora with his wife, Bernadette, and immediately dove into the sports community in the Town. He remained in hockey and also moved over to lacrosse in the summer.

“I was president of (Aurora) minor lacrosse for nine years. I coached or managed in every facet of lacrosse in that time period. It was a small sport that we tried to get into Aurora. We got into a league and we had house leagues with different ages and each team,” Graham said.

“There were about 75 kids involved in lacrosse. Out of that minor lacrosse we had two kids that played junior lacrosse. I got on to the board of directors of minor lacrosse in Huntsville. So, our league was out of Huntsville and Orillia. It was a lot of shuffling kids around.” 

But lacrosse was a tough sell in Aurora. Soccer and baseball were the more popular games and Graham had to donate all the equipment to Newmarket as Aurora’s program folded.

Yet his leadership and spark within the Town never went unnoticed. In 1985, Graham was given the Bob Harman Award for his local volunteerism and leadership.

Around the same time frame, Graham and a man named Lowell McClenny were co-hosts of the Aurora Sports Beat on local cable television. Graham and McClenny reported on anything related to sport in the Town and annually involved children on television from minor sports leagues.

Of course, Graham’s three children – James, Tracy and Lynn – were all involved in sport as well and when Tracywanted to take part in a girls’ hockey league as she became tired of playing with the boys, Graham, took it upon himself to make it happen.

“I found a team out in Stouffville. I took her out there for a year and then in 1990 I decided I was going to start my own girls’ hockey rep team,” Graham said. “Girls’ hockey teams came to be in Aurora in 1993. I started my team in 1990 and they were bantams, and I brought them to play in North Metro girls’ hockey. They were later called Lower Lakes Girls Hockey out of London. For 14 years I was on the board of directors for North Metro Girls Hockey as a treasurer. That gave me the in, to get the Aurora Panthers rep teams in the Metro.”

Because Graham said he would go on as treasurer, Aurora was allowed to have their rep teams join.

“I took my team called the York Region Hawks and I kept them in there for a while until I took my team over to the Aurora Panthers in 1993. I said I’ll bring my team over and we’ll start the rep system for the Aurora Panthers. That’s how they got the Panthers rep team started.”

As a catalyst to begin girls rep hockey in Aurora, an advocate for lacrosse in the community and a stellar television host, when Graham heard he was being inducted into the Aurora Sports Hall of Fame by his three children and their spouses, he was almost in disbelief.

“When I heard I was in awe, surprised and excited. It was not known by me that it was happening,” Graham said.

“They created a great summary of my accomplishments. It was really a great honour.”

Graham thanked his children James and his spouse Susan, Lynn and her husband Mark and Tracy and her spouse Heather for nominating him in the Aurora Sports Hall of Fame.

Given his past accomplishments, Graham never saw this coming. He coached, he treasured and he led groups of young adolescents all for the love of the game.

Graham who moved out of Aurora 13 years ago is now situated with his wife in Sandy Cove. He cannot wait for the Induction Celebration Dinner on November 18 to share his story more personally.

For those who wish to still attend the event, tickets are still being sold online at

By Robert Belardi



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