On Oct. 28, Meadowvale Four Rinks in Mississauga was the site of an official dedication ceremony honouring Johnny Bower, the legendary Canadian professional hockey player and philanthropist.
The dedication recognized Bower’s outstanding volunteer contributions to many Mississauga-based organizations, including the Meadowvale Minor Hockey Association. The master of ceremonies was Ward 9 Councillor Pat Saito, who brought the request to municipal council to dedicate a rink to Bower shortly after the icon passed away in 2017, at the age of 93.
“It is an honour to recognize Johnny Bower at the arena where he was well known as a mentor to many young hockey players and where his grandchildren skated,” said Saito. “My only regret is Johnny is not here to receive this well-deserved recognition.”
With a permanent plaque, sign and centre-ice logo, Saito dedicated rink one at the arena to Bower. Meadowvale Four Rinks is the closest arena to the Bower family home and rink one the most prominent surface at the arena. One was also the jersey number worn by Bower throughout his 12-year career with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Other speakers were Mayor Bonnie Crombie, Jennifer Evans (Peel Regional Police Chief), Dale Smith (Bower’s eldest grandchild and family representative) and Richard Foote (Meadowvale Minor Hockey Association president).
“Johnny Bower encapsulated the spirit of belonging, a value that we embrace in the City of Mississauga,” said Crombie. “He was, of course, a phenomenal hockey player but more than that, his work as a philanthropist, coach and mentor are qualities that will help keep his spirit alive in Mississauga and beyond.”
Bower is renowned for his determination and compassion. He began his career with the Maple Leafs at the age of 34, when most professional athletes are considering retirement. He was twice named top NHL goaltender and helped lead the Leafs to four Stanley Cup championships in the 1960s.
He remained with the Leafs as a coach and scout until 1990, when he accepted the role of Goodwill Ambassador for the organization. He was known to help young players hone their hockey skills at local arenas and was involved in numerous charities aiding children, community development, health promotion and animal protection.
As an active participant in the Anishinabek Nation 7th Generation Charity, the band named him Grand Chief in 2010. In the same year, he received an Ontario Senior Achievement Award for his tireless community service, including a role as the only Honourary Chief of Police in the history of Peel Region.
Bower’s many accolades include memberships in the Hockey Hall of Fame, AHL Hall of Fame, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, Mississauga’s Legends Row and a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.
Visit Johnny Bower Rink 1 at Meadowvale Four Rinks, 2160 Torquay Mews.
Image: Nancy Bower, wife of the late Johnny Bower (centre), flanked by family, friends and community members at rink dedication ceremony. Mayor Bonnie Crombie, far right. (source: Mayor Bonnie Crombie, Twitter)