Thomas Street

Thomas Street is named in honour of Harold (Winger) Thomas

Winger Thomas   Stratford-Perth Archives

Harold (Winger) Thomas

Harold Moxon (Winger) Thomas was born in Bradford, England, on Dec. 14, 1904. He grew up playing soccer and cricket, and was a track and field champion at two secondary schools in his native country. As a young man, he played in the Bradford City Football Club organization.

It was soccer and a job in the Canadian National Railways shops that brought him to Stratford in the spring of 1928. With him came the nickname Winger.

For the next 20 years he played with the Stratford Nationals in the Western Football Association, mostly as their goalie. For 10 years he also played for a CNR team that won the Southwestern Ontario Cricket League championship in 1933 and 1936.  Also in 1936, he married Annie Pearl Mitchell (1909-2000). 

For more than the next five decades, he covered the gamut of sports in and around Stratford for the Beacon-Herald, the weekly Stratford Times and the London Free Press. He also coached, managed and trained a variety of Stratford baseball and hockey teams, and acted as secretary of the Stratford Lawn Bowling Association, chairman of the Stratford Nationals of the Intercounty Baseball League, and supervisor of the Rotary-Y Hockey League. In 1971 he was named Stratford’s sportsman of the year. He and his wife Pearl lived at 20 Whyte Ave. He died in March 1982.

The Harold Winger Thomas Award

A trophy in his Wingers name is presented annually to a graduating player (in his or her final year of U14 eligibility) who demonstrates a combination of ability, sportsmanship, community involvement and academic achievement. A list of winners can be found on this site which is the source of text and pictures: Stratford Rotary Hockey

*    Winger Thomas was inducted in the Sports Hall of Fame in 2023. See video below.

These Stratford curlers won the Ontario Tankard in 1930. Stratford-Perth Archives

Bringing home the Ontario Tankard by Winger Thomas

After this photograph was donated to the Stratford-Perth Archives in 1982, the dapper gentlemen in it were identified by longtime local sports reporter Harold “Winger” Thomas as champion curlers from Stratford who won the Ontario Tankard in 1930.

They are (front row, left to right) W.M. Binkley, H.A. Bruce, Albert E. Batcheller, Charles Neilson, (back row, left to right) Eddie Mallion, K.C. Turnbull, Maitland A. Humber and J.W. Lloyd.

Winger’s manuscript history of local sports, also at the archives, includes this account of Stratford’s first curling match and the championship winning team that followed years later.

“The roaring game or curling as it is known today was first introduced to the townsfolk of Stratford January 22, 1872 when members of the Goderich and St. Marys curling clubs staged an exhibition game on the Avon River, known in those days as The Pond. Prior to the match the editor of the Beacon wrote: ‘Lovers of outdoor sport are urged to attend in large numbers. We would like to see the good people of our town take sufficient interest in the game to form a club as Stratford and St. Marys could often have a friendly game. Commenting further on the occasion the writer said: The day was intensely cold, and there were frost bitten noses and ears not a few. The uninitiated were greatly puzzled how to account for so many people congregating on the river, and dexterously sweeping with brooms portions of the ice which had previously been cleared of its snow under the direction of Mr. Corrie of the Queen’s Arms…Quietness, harmony and good humour prevailed during the match.”

Thomas goes on to report that, a week later, Stratford had its own curling club, led by president William Easson, and that, when the Ontario Curling Association formed two years later, Stratford curlers joined with enthusiasm.

By the 1920s, “A.E. Batchellor and H.A. Bruce were two of Stratford’s better skips. Mr. Batchellor was manager of the Stratford branch of the Royal Bank of Canada and before coming to Stratford skipped an Owen Sound rink to the Ontario Tankard. In 1930 rinks skipped by Batchellor and Bruce brought to the Classic City the coveted Ontario Tankard for the only time in the club’s history…The Ontario Tankard which was offered for competition by the Canadian Branch of the Royal Caledonia Curling Club of Scotland, and competed for annually was won for the first and only time by Stratford in 1930 when they defeated Cobourg in the final. The final match was hard fought with Judge L.V. O’Connor’s Cobourg beating A.E. Batchelor by five shots. But this was not enough to offset the defeat encountered by Cobourg skip, W. Potts who was eight shots down to Stratford’s H.A.Bruce. The Classic City winning by three shots.  Personnel of the Batchelor rink was J. Floyd, Mait Humber and C. Nelson. The Bruce foursome included F. Mallion, M.W. Binkley and K. Turnbull. The Bruce Rink represented Ontario in the McDonald Brier that year which was won by Alberta.”  Source: Stratford -Perth Archives, Betty Jo Belton