Skip to content

Inside look at TSN 'The Originals' story on recovery of Bill Barilko plane wreck

The story chronicles efforts to recover the plane wreckage

Efforts to recover a plane wreck that claimed the lives of Timmins hockey legend Bill Barilko along with the pilot Dr. Henry Hudson are the subject of this week's episode of TSN’s The Originals.

The Mission, an 11-minute video shot by Josh Shiaman of TSN, focuses on the efforts of an intrepid band of local businessmen, politicians and journalists to recover the plane wreck in which Bill Barilko and the plane’s owner Dr. Henry Hudson died in a crash on Aug. 26, 1951.

The show contains original footage recorded by Kevin Vincent on Oct. 16, 2011, as the wreckage of Dr. Henry Hudson’s small plane was being retrieved and preserved to the memory of Barilko and Dr. Hudson.

It first aired Monday, Jan. 23, before the Toronto Maple Leafs-Calgary Flames game, but only in the Leafs region of TSN. It received a huge response and critical acclaim.

Tonight, it will be broadcast nationally on all TSN channels as a segment of Sports Center, which airs at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Shiaman from TSN met with Vincent and Mike Mulryan in October 2016 and put together The Mission which is now being featured on TSN with parts of the video taken by Vincent at the site as the mission to recover Henry Hudson’s plane which crashed in August 1951 killing Hudson and his passenger Bill Barilko who, in April 1951, scored the winning goal in sudden death overtime giving the Leafs the Stanley Cup.

Mike Mulryan is the owner of Quinn’s Sports. He has been a journalist, hockey coach, scout and local hockey historian.

Kevin Vincent is an author of two books on great gold mining robberies in Timmins. He is the founder of TimminsToday.com, a videographer and entrepreneur.

They, along with 11 other determined people from Timmins, made the trek on Oct. 16, 2011 to recover the plane wreck and bring it home.

The Mission is dedicated to the memory of the late John (Doc) Shaw, a dentist, who died at age 82 in Timmins Dec. 16, 2016.

“John Shaw was the primary driving force behind the whole mission to recover the wreck and preserve it,” Mulryan said.

Others who made the pilgrimage to the plane crash site included Sandra Cattarello, a cousin of Bill Barilko; Art Bonsall, and Archie Chenier, Henry Hudson's good friend.

It was Chenier who was originally going to with Hudson on the fishing trip to the northeastern section of James Bay by Seal River, Quebec near where it touches onto Hudson Bay. At the last minute, Chenier had to back out of the trip and that is when Hudson who was Barilko’s dentist invited Barilko.

The two left Timmins on Aug. 24 for Seal River. On the way back on Aug. 26, they stopped to refuel in Moosonee, Ont. The plane crashed in the dense Northern Ontario forest and never made it back to Timmins.

Bill Hughes, Timmins businessperson and himself a former goaltender in World Hockey Association and the Central Hockey League, was part of the band and so were Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren, Dave McGirr, author Richard Buell, Wayne Bozzer, the founder of the Timmins Sports Hall of Fame; Mike Mitchell, award winning journalist Ken Pagan.

The helicopter pilot was Chad Calaiezzi and his crew consisted of Mark Farmer, Mark Burkholder, and Greg Volume. They would lift and haul the plane wreck and all recovered items from the crash site and fly it to an undisclosed storage location.

Bill Barilko’s number 5 jersey was retired by the Toronto Maple Leafs and hangs from the rafters of the Air Canada Centre.

He was 24-years-old when he scored a spectacular goal to win the Stanley Cup for the Toronto Maple Leafs in sudden death overtime against the powerful Montreal Canadiens led by Maurice 'The Rocket' Richard.

And, as Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip wrote in his song about Barilko 50 Mission Cap, the Leafs would not win another Stanley Cup until May 1962, the year that the plane crash was spotted and the bodies of Barilko and Henry Hudson were recovered on June 6.

However, Hudson’s Fairchild 24 float plane remained in place for another 50 years before being salvaged.

Mulryan said, for him, it was a once in a lifetime experience that exposed him to a wide range of emotions.

At the time Kevin Vincent, founder of TimminsToday.com, covered much of the story.

“Bill stood for everything Northern Ontario is about,” said Mulryan in The Mission. “It was that Northern spirit that got it out.”

“We didn’t have a backhoe or a front loader,” added Vincent. “We did everything by hand to recover the plane.”

Despite winning four Stanley Cups and being named to three NHL All-Star teams in his five NHL years (1945, 1947-48 to 1950-51); Barilko has not been named to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Dr. John Shaw mounted a campaign to have Barilko named to the Hall in 2005, but the campaign fell short of their goal.

And today, one of the most legendary players of the NHL still remains outside of a Hall that includes many players who have accomplished far less and left less of a footprint in the minds of Canadian hockey fans than Bill Barilko.



Comments


Frank Giorno

About the Author: Frank Giorno

Frank Giorno worked as a city hall reporter for the Brandon Sun; freelanced for the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. He is the past editor of www.mininglifeonline.com and the newsletter of the Association of Italian Canadian Writers.
Read more