the Olympic Year 2000, we thought you'd enjoy reading about
one of Walkerville's very own Olympians who participated over 60
years ago, when the event was a much simpler affair.
Local Olympian Ian Allison Remembered
Collegiate students called him "The Major". His
friends called him Al. And history will remember him as a member
of the only Canadian basketball team to ever win a medal at the
was born in Greenock, Scotland. As a boy, his family emigrated to
Canada and lived on Monmouth Rd. across from Walkerville Collegiate,
where he would eventually win numerous medals for basketball, soccer
and track and field.
an all-conference halfback in football at Assumption College, and
played for the championship squad at the University of Toronto.
After college, he returned to his roots, teaching and coaching at
Walkerville for 40 years -from 1933 until his retirement in 1973.
Ian married Jean, a Walkerville secretary. They eloped in Bayfield
and had two daughters, Heather and Jane. Jean accompanied Ian to
Berlin in 1936, where the boys from Windsor represented Canada at
the Olympics. According to Jane Peckham, (nee Allison) her parents
often spoke about the military presence in Berlin. Soldiers were
everywhere and swastikas draped the streets. Hitler watched the
Games carefully, but refused to attend the medal ceremonies when
African American Jesse Owens was recognized for his gold winning
performance in track and field.
was the first year that basketball was played as a medal sport at
the Olympics. Team Canada, formerly known as the Ford V-8's, performed
admirably. On outdoor courts, they defeated Brazil, Latvia, Switzerland
and Poland, with Ian scoring 20 points total in those games.
gold-medal opponents were none other than the boys next door, Team
U.S.A. Ian's teammate Jimmy Stewart exclaimed, "Oh, Al,
they're so tall!" To which Ian replied, "That's okay,
we'll just run between their legs!"
in a steady downpour, the Canadian team ultimately lost to the Americans
19 - 8, with Ian Allison scoring four points. They proudly brought
home the silver medal for Canada.
Ian's memorable moments from those Olympics was meeting Dr.James
Naismith, a fellow Canadian and the founder of basketball.
His daughters still have their father's Berlin picture, autographed
by Dr. Naismith, and Jesse Owens.
to Windsor, Ian resumed his teaching career. Four years later, he
was back on European soil, with a very different kind of team. Attached
to the Calgary Tank Corps, Major Allison saw action at Dieppe and
Monte Cassino, again bringing home medals but this time for bravery.
World War Two ended, Major Allison was back at Walkerville Collegiate.
Teacher, coach, and athletic director, he was often seen in the
halls carrying his trusty pointer or yardstick. The "Major"
was well respected by his colleagues at Walkerville and was known
for his poise and credibility. Early on, he coached his basketball
team to victory over the previously unbeaten Assumption Purple Raiders,
19 - 16, to win the WSSA title. Ian also took great pride in the
track and field athletes he worked with, like Richard Rau, and Jack
Cowan. In fact, he even taught Walkerville Times editor Elaine Weeks
how to hurdle!
is a story, confirmed by a colleague as well as Ian's daughter,
about the day in 1965 when Walkerville flew the new Canadian flag
for the first time. As the students gathered on the front lawn,
Major Allison, a staunch Union Jack supporter had the honour of
raising the flag. As the flag unfurled at the top of the flagpole,
everyone looked up to admire the red Maple Leaf - flying upside
as being involved with high school athletics, Ian continued his
commitment to the cadet corps, spending summers at Ipperwash Military
Base. He also taught English to new Canadians.
before his retirement in 1973, Ian and Jean moved to Kingsville.
Following Jean's death in 1979, Ian relocated to London, Ontario
to be closer to his daughter Jane. His love for sport continued.
According to Jane, "Dad got a big charge out of watching his
grandchildren's sporting events."
died on August 3, 1990. His 3 granddaughters and 3 grandsons have
continued the family tradition of excellence in sport. One granddaughter
is currently attending Colorado State on a volleyball scholarship,
and a grandson will be attending Ohio State on a volleyball scholarship
in the fall.
Mr. Allison's Olympic feats were often taken for granted by his
daughters when they were younger, his grandchildren are very impressed
by his record, prompting his grandson Scott to even consider changing
his last name to Allison.
the V-8 team was inducted into the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame,
and in 1988, Ian Allison was inducted into the Windsor-Essex County
Hall of Fame.
thanks to Mrs. Jane Peckham (nee Allison) of London, Ont. for sharing
story: Canada's First Olympic Gymnast