By Grace Oborne
Decades have passed since hockey phenom Glen “Bimmy” Dart graced the ice with his smooth skating and powerful shot for the legendary Haliburton Huskies teams, and how he inspired everyone he met to be their best on and off the ice, his legacy of excellence and selflessness will be enshrined with his induction to the Haliburton Highlands Hall of Fame.
Though Dart passed away at the young age of 31 in 1951, his son Roger Dart has learned a lot about his father’s legacy while growing up. The Haliburton community and those who knew Dart often had a lot to share about the notable hockey player.
“I was about two when my father passed, but when I was growing up in Haliburton, I learned a lot about him from many people over time. I always get the sense from people that he was an exceptional hockey player, for his era and for the time that he played. Moreover, that he was highly regarded within the community. Everybody liked him. Everybody thought very highly of him” said Roger.
Dart was the first player to become well known in the Haliburton area for his on-ice abilities. In his early teens, the Haliburton Huskies were Haliburton’s elite men’s hockey team. At 15, while he was still in high school, Dart was invited to play on the team.
“He played on the Haliburton Huskies team that won all the trophies. One time I went to a wedding and Bill Nichol pulled me aside and told me that he went to high school with my dad. He told me that they let my dad leave school early so he could go and practice with the Huskies. The Huskies were the men’s team, they were elite,” said Roger.
In the later 1930s, Dart also played junior hockey in Lindsay. He also was invited to try out for the Young Rangers, a junior team in Toronto.
Eventually Dart moved back to Haliburton and joined Canada’s second World War effort. While serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force, he played for several RCAF teams. These teams were ultra competitive and played at a high level. He played for the air force’s team in Belleville and the Moncton Marrons, a Maritime senior team in the AMS League.
After being discharged from the RCAF, Dart returned to Haliburton and was once again a star player for the Huskies for four seasons. During that time, Dart became the recreation director for the Municipality of Dysart et al, coaching all the minor league teams
“My father was an inspiration for people and specifically for youngsters. For youth, he was a leader,” said Roger.
One of those youngsters at the time was Lenny Salvatori, who is part of the first hall of fame inductee class in the builder category.
“I was involved in minor hockey all my life, so I was around him a lot. I played and I coached minor hockey, and Glen was the guy that got me started on that because I wasn’t a hockey player. I was just a kid that enjoyed hockey. I enjoyed coaching and managing all those hockey teams. He inspired me to be involved in minor hockey,” Salvatori, who was a friend of Dart’s.
Salvatori was a part of the group that helped to start the Glen Dart Hockey Tournament, which ultimately became the highlight tournament for young hockey players throughout Haliburton County.
While Salvatori ran the arena, he spent a lot of time getting to know Dart and remembers him to be a great hockey player and an even better person.
“I watched him play as a kid and he was a great hockey player, an excellent hockey player. He was a very clean hockey player and just loved the game. More than that, he was a gentleman all the way through his life. He was a great human being, and a great citizen of the community. He always supported kids in minor hockey and inspired many,” added Salvatori.
After Dart’s passing, a group of citizens established the Glen Dart Memorial Trophies to honour Dart for his accomplishments.
“The Glen Dart Memorial Hockey Tournament was established for minor hockey, it was not established for my dad. It was established for minor hockey teams and it is something for them to play for. They felt that the best name for this was to be in memory of my father,” said Roger.
Dart was an inspiration to the youth of his day not only because of his hockey ability but because of the support, guidance and attitude he offered towards the kids he coached.
“I’m proud too because of what I’ve been told and heard about my dad. Over the years, many men have told me that they were coached by my dad. I think he really was somebody that the community liked. He cared about the kids in the community,” he said.
Today, many people in Haliburton still keep Dart’s legacy alive.
“When I first started working at the museum [36 years ago], there were still a lot of people in Haliburton that had actually seen Glen play hockey and always told me what a good skater, and what a good stickhandler he was. I’ve been told that he was just a gifted skater, stickhandler, the whole bit. He didn’t need to be a tough guy on the ice. He was just naturally good at playing hockey, but was humble about it,” said curator of the Haliburton Highlands Museum, Steve Hill.
Though Roger was young when his father passed, and didn’t know his father personally, he mentions that his mother and the community has made it easier to get to know his father.
“It certainly helps me to know who my father was when people tell me about him. Of course, my mother, who had to raise me, told me about him from her perspective. The community has always just supported what she had to say about him, which was that he was this really great person,” said Roger.
“I’m proud that he’s being honoured as one of the initial inductees for the Haliburton Highlands Sports Hall of Fame. My dad was a very nice person and worked hard in hockey. He was a person that cared about people in the community, and wanted to, but he didn’t want people to make it about him. He wanted it to be about the people he was helping. He was well liked by the community and just loved the game of hockey. That is what I’ve learned about my dad,” Roger said.