Although the 1930s Victoria Y track teams travelled by bus, streetcars and the midnight boat to Vancouver they were still the talk of the town.
Archie McKinnon, athletic director of the YMCA, wasn't as familiar with track as other sports but by helping out at Victoria High school meets he found new talent to form a competitive Y track team around veteran like one-miler, Charlie Cunningham. Among his first recruits were Lynn Patrick, Art Chapman and Joe Addison, who, since his time as a young athlete in the 1920s, had been labelled "a natural." He would go on to lead the Y's great track team, a predecessor for the Flying Y of 1940s and 50s. A year later, Saanich school sprinters, Noel Morgan and Owen Bentley filled out the team.
1932 was an Olympic year and B.C. began a Young Olympians track and field programme with a goal of preparing young men to represent Canada at the 1936 Olympic Games. Seven local YMCA boys, including, Joe Roberts and Bill Thompson showed up when they collected medals. The following year they were joined by lanky Bill Dale running the half-mile events.
The provincial trials for Canada's 1934 British Empire Games team were held at the new Macdonald Park grass track. Although the locals qualified in each race except the 100 yd. dash, only Addison was amongst the 96 Canadians selected to the BEG team going to London and he came home with a silver relay medal.
By 1935 the Y team had a full house with future Grey Cup champion Paul Rowe joining Bruce Humber in the sprints. Combined with Addison, Dale and Cunningham they had solid teams in the 4x100 and mile relays that gathered trophies throughout the Island and collected seven titles at the B.C. Championships.
Addison, Dale and Humber, who was going to school in Seattle, packed their suitcases and went on to the 1936 Canadian finals in Montreal. Young Bill Dale ran the best race of his life to place second in the 800-metre final at those Olympic Games trials. Humber's sprinting speed won him an invite and a silver medal as Canada's relay team placed second in Berlin.
Unlucky, Addison was distracted in the 400 hurdles and crashed. Rain flooded the track for the 400 and his inside lane was particularly bad. It cost him a team position as only first place athletes received tickets to the Olympics while second and third-place finishers could attend at their own cost. That was too much for Addison and Dale, while McKinnon was surely conflicted as he was picked to coach Canada's track team.
The three "fast friends" wound up their careers as the war began. Joe Addison left the Victoria police force to go overseas where he had the toughest luck of all, dying in a plane crash. Chuck Cunningham slowed down, Gladys caught him and they spent married life coaching and officiating youth softball and basketball in the Cordova Bay area. Bill Dale became the Pacific Coast half-mile champion, won gold and silver medals at the 1938 BEG and was a lifelong YMCA member.
(article courtesy Dave Unwin)
SPONSORED BY THE YMCA-YWCA OF GREATER VICTORIA