52 Ancestors: Jack Hangs Up The Blades For A Life Of Service

This is the fourth and final part in a series of posts that primarily set out to capture the professional hockey career of John Osborne ‘Jack’ Filkin, or, ‘Uncle Johnny’ to my wife.

The previous three posts about Jack Filkin’s hockey career can be read here:


Jack Filkin learned to play hockey, likely on the frozen ponds and rivers of his native Ontario, Canada. It is clear from all of the records that Jack loved hockey and would do whatever was needed to find a place on a good team. He was scouted a signed by the New York Rangers. He didn’t make the NHL team following the 1929 training camp but rather was assigned to the Rangers’ pro farm team, the Springfield (Massachusetts) Indians. 

His second pro hockey season was spent in the California Hockey League playing for the Los Angeles Millionaires. Unfortunately, no cumulative statistics for the team or the league could be found for the 1930-31 season. However, various newspaper articles and family-held press clippings tell of Jack impressing with his speed, his goal scoring touch and his ability to play both a finesse and physical style of hockey. Whatever it took to succeed. 

Jack Filkin as a Los Angeles Millionaire (original photo privately held)


Jack’s Los Angeles Millionaires finished second in the league that year to the Oakland Shieks. Jack was near the top of the list of goal scorers, probably in the top ten players, possibly as high as the top five in the league.

It is not surprising then that Jack’s pro hockey contract was purchased by the Philadelphia Arrows of the Canadian-American Hockey League for the 1931-32 season.

Jack was off to the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ to join an Arrows hockey team being coached and managed by Hockey Hall of Famer Herb Gardiner. The team played all of it’s home games in the Philadelphia Arena on Market Street in the city’s west end. Statistics for the 1931-32 season show that Jack played in 31 games, assisted on three goals, and accumulated twelve minutes in penalties. 

What that record does not show is that jack sustained a career ending injury towards the end of the season. Jack’s hockey season was ended early when he severely broke one of his legs.

The following hockey season, Jack attempted a comeback with the 1932-33 Edmonton Eskimos of the Western Hockey League. Leading up to the Eskimos’ opening game, an Edmonton sports reporter introduced the new member of the local team in this way:

Over on the left wing, McKenzie [Edmonton Eskimos coach] has a big, robust speed merchant in the person of Jack Filkin, 25-year old sniper who has had his share of pro competition…Filkin had a bad break with the Arrows, suffering a badly fractured leg, and he never did regain the form expected of him.

Although his hockey career came to a disappointing end, Jack had lived the dream. But it was now on to other and perhaps even greater things John Osborne Filkin.

With his hockey career over, John returned to Toronto with his wife Hazel (Latimer). They settled into a pleasant home on Vaughn Road in the Toronto borough of York. John and Hazel welcomed into their family two daughters. John went off to work each day according to voters lists as a salesman. Eventually John took up the profession of tree surgeon as recorded in numerous subsequent voters lists. Eventually this profession would be described as Landscape Architecture.

John Filkin in 1965 (from Lions Club International newsletter)


In 1950, John became a member of the Lions Club service organization. According to a variety of club archived records, in 1958, John became the President of his local Lions Club branch. The following year he became the Zone Chairman for the Lions Club. He then spent 1961 and 1962 as the Lions Club’s Deputy District Chairman, followed by two years in the role of 100% Deputy District Governor. From 1965 through 1967, John was a Director of the Lions Club International, representing Canada.

John’s dedication to service through the Lions Club is well documented, both in Lions Club archived records and in the many newspaper articles from across Canada and the United States reporting on John’s message to fellow Lions Club members at the many conventions at which he was invited to be the keynote speaker.

When not inspiring and encouraging Lions Club members, John found time to serve as the Commissioner of the Parking Authority for the Borough of York (Toronto, Ontario) or 16 years. In the 1971 photo below, John Filkin is seen helping Borough of York Mayor Philip White cover a parking meter, an act that offered free parking in the borough for the busy shopping season the week prior to Christmas.

John ‘Jack’ Filkin (left) with York Mayor Philip White, December 1971 (Toronto Star newspaper archive)


Following a life of giving joy to hockey fans and serving his community, at home and abroad, John Osborne Filkin passed away on April 28, 1977 having followed his dream, served his community well, and teaching all of us how to live life well.

52 Ancestors: Jack Becomes A Los Angeles Millionaire

I have, admittedly, been delinquent in continuing the story about John Osborne (Jack) Filkin, my wife’s uncle through marriage and, in his younger days, a professional hockey player. This is Part 3 in a four part series about Jack Filkin. You can read the previous two parts of this story here:


Jack grew up in small town Ontario, Canada. Here he learned to play hockey, and play it at a high level. In an era before the blades of hockey sticks were curved, Jack played with a standard straight-bladed hockey stick. With that straight blade, Jack developed the unique skill of being able to shoot the puck either left handed or right handed.

At five feet, eleven inches in height and one hundred seventy-five pounds, Jack would have been considered a big winger, even a force to be reckoned with.

In 1929, the general managers of the professional hockey teams had no farm systems from which to draw for the big league team. They needed to scour hockey leagues looking for young talent. 

When the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League (NHL) were looking for new talent, according to press reports, they were “told of” Jack who was “known in the Maple Leaf country as Goal-a-Game Filkin, this because he has averaged a goal every game since he began donning the steel blades in league competition.”

The 1929-30 season didn’t work out as hoped for. Jack attended the New York Rangers training camp and was sent to the New York Rangers’ Canadian-American Hockey League affiliate team the Springfield (Massachusetts) Indians. Although Jack was a fan favourite, his goal scoring touch was missing. He recorded just one goal and one assist while spending 30 minutes in the penalty box.

Following the hockey season, Jack returned to his Ontario home. In Toronto, he was known as Police Constable Filkin, Badge Number 788. In that first ‘off-season’ of 1930, Jack managed to take time off of his ‘beat’ to marry Hazel Latimer.


John Osborne ‘Jack’ Filkin, 1929-30 Springfield (Massachusetts) Indians 
newspaper photo clipping 
(Newspaper source and date of publication unknown)


On November 10, 1930, it was back to hockey for Jack. But this time, Jack was on his way to play hockey in California where his professional contract had been purchased. Jack was going to be a Los Angeles Millionaire.

There does not appear to be a compiled listing of the statistics from the California Hockey League available for the year that Jack played there (1930-31). However, a review of the press clippings available to me strongly suggests that Jack’s scoring touch had definitely returned, with numerous multiple goal games reported.

Hazel joined Jack in Los Angeles and, together, they were able to connect with Hazel’s aunts, uncles, and cousins in the Knox and Squires families. Hazel’s mother, Mattie Diona (Knox) Latimer was from California and had left the state the day after she married her Canadian husband, Edward Latimer, in 1906.


Hazel (Latimer) Filkin
(Original privately held)


The year of 1931 brought about more change for Jack. Maybe it was because of his goal scoring success in California, maybe it was because of team requirements, or maybe it was a combination of both but, whatever the reason, Jack’s professional hockey contract was purchased again by another team. 

Jack was gong to spend his third season as a Philadelphia Arrow. He did not know it when he crossed the U.S.-Canada border in the Fall of 1931 that the 1931-32 hockey season would be his last.

52 Ancestors: Living The Dream – John Osborne ‘Jack’ Filkin (Part 1)

Sure, I’m retired and could say “I’m living the dream” but this isn’t about me. No, this is about Uncle Johnny, or more accurately Ellen’s uncle John Osborne Filkin.

When I was growing up, I had only one season of sports, serious sports – hockey season. It lasted twelve months each year. I played in organized leagues during the Fall, Winter, and Spring. I played ‘road hockey’ using a tennis ball in place of a puck before school, during recesses, at lunch time and, after school until the street lights came on and I was begrudgingly required to call it a day.  Sure, I played some baseball in the summer and some football in the Fall but life really revolved around hockey, hockey, and more hockey.

I knew every player in the National Hockey League (NHL), as for most of the years when I was young, there were only six teams. More than anything else, I dreamed of developing my skills and being good enough to one day play hockey professionally, especially to be in the NHL.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com
Recently, I took a second, closer look at a border crossing card from 1930 for Ellen’s Uncle Johnny. The card stated that his reason for entering the United States (he crossed the border from Sarnia, Ontario to Port Huron, Michigan) was to play hockey in Los Angeles, California. Playing hockey in California? Many, many decades ago? That, to say the least, piqued my curiosity!

It turns out there are many records, some of which are found in obscure non-genealogically oriented databases, that provide evidence of Uncle Johnny’s hockey career. And then the ‘honey hole’ was presented to me by Ellen’s cousin and Uncle Johnny’s daughter, Jule. An old family scrapbook collection, assembled by one of Uncle Johnny’s brothers, containing all the press clippings they were able to gather eighty years ago pertaining to Uncle Johnny’s hockey career.

So this is the story of John Osborne Filkin. He was known widely by the name ‘Jack’ but my wife knew him only as ‘Uncle Johnny.’

John Osborne Filkin was born April 25, 1905 in the tiny hamlet of Irondale, Ontario, Canada. Irondale is located on Salerno Lake in a rural, heavily-wooded part of Ontario, far from, well, almost everything. John’s father was William Mark Filkin, a chemical engineer who about twenty years earlier had immigrated to Canada from his native Birmingham, England. John’s mother was Alma Maud Armstrong who had been born in the small town of Minden, Ontario.

Summers during Jack’s childhood would offer, as they do today, opportunities for water sports – swimming, fishing, and canoeing. The Fall, Winter, and Spring seasons meant attending school and no doubt for Jack, a chance to skate and play hockey on the frozen ponds and rivers that were plentiful in his part of the province. Jack’s teen years meant chances to work in a local sawmill but he always found time for hockey. Jack probably played hockey whenever and wherever he could, just like I did years later. But he was different. He was truly dedicated to the game and very talented.

In 1927, Jack climbed the joined the amateur hockey ranks eventually joining team of the York Bible Class, a young men’s organization established a few years earlier by Denton Massey, a member of one of Canada’s more famous families. That year his hockey team won the championship of the city of Toronto.

In Part 2, a look at the Road to the NHL.