The man who brought sports to Orono

Dean “Wiener” West doesn’t want to simply recount his glory days. As a member of the 1948-49 Ontario Junior “D” Championship Orono Orphans hockey club, as well as the 1959-60 Intermediate “C” Championship Orono Orphans hockey team, and the two Intermediate “C” Championship Orono Orphans baseball teams of 1954 and 1957, there are lots of glory days the 78-year old could relive. He says he hopes the people of Orono will never forget those days. But more importantly, West hopes the townsfolk will remember the one man he says was responsible for it all: Dane Found.

April 7th marked the 60th anniversary of the Orphans’ Junior “D” championship win. That day, in 1949 — in a thrilling end-to-end contest held in Stratford — was when the Orphans did the Orono Amateur Athletic Association (OAAA), and its founder, Dane Found proud. In the best two out of three of the final, against a team from Milverton, Orono had already won the first game 6-5. Game two was tied at 9 when, in the last minute of play, Junior West scored on a pass from his brother, Dean, to win the championship.

But the road to glory started four years earlier, in the summer of 1945, when Dean, Junior, and their friend Carl Flintoff, were hanging out on Main St. They were high school student, but school was out and there was little to do. It was then that Found, the owner of the local restaurant (where the Orono Country Café is now located), spotted the three youths outside his business and, according to West, came up with an idea that would eventually put Orono in the spotlight.

The idea was simple enough: approach the local business owners and ask if they’d be interested in forming a committee to run organized sports in town. The teenagers followed Found’s suggestion, and the business community responded favourably. It wasn’t long before a meeting was held, and the OAAA was born that same year. In 1947, Found formed the Junior “D” hockey club, calling the team the Orono Orphans, likely after the Orono, Maine team of the same name.

“If it was not for Dane, Orono would not have had the Orono Orphans,” says West by phone from his home in Cobourg. “And as far as the OAAA goes, who knows when that would have happened, if ever. Sports would have come to Orono in time, I guess, but not the way Dane did it.”

The first OAAA executive consisted of: President J.J. Mellor (Twp. of Clarke clerk); Vice President W.E. Armstrong (local grocer); Secretary Perce Lunn (owner of one of Orono’s two hardware stores); and Executive Officers Charles Tyrell (Tyrell’s Drug Store), J.J. Cornish (Cornish Red & White grocery store), Dane Found (restaurant & pool hall owner), Roy Winter (GM employee) and Ab West (butcher at Armstrong’s Grocery Store, and father of the West brothers). While the executive changed from year to year, Found continued on as the manager of the team for at least 17 years, says West.

“Dane never missed a hockey game,” he recalls. “He called us his boys, and when we went on the ice from the dressing room, he always patted each one of us on the back. His slogan was, ‘Give it all you got, and a little bit more.’” That philosophy paid off with the 1949 championship, a win that brought the whole town out to celebrate.

Taking the bus home the morning after the big game, West remembers the team members were unexpectedly detained along the 401 at Bennett Rd. by a local police constable while, unbeknownst to them, the townspeople finished preparing a victory parade. As the team rolled into town, it was met by a fire engine, the Orono Band and a crowd lined up along both sides of the street, that included the local school children who had been let out of class for the occasion. There was even a chicken dinner awaiting the team members at the Masonic Hall.

Word of the victory spread throughout the Ontario hockey world, and a few months later, the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) hosted a banquet for the Orphans at the Town Hall. “We were well-known all over Ontario,” recalls West, who was just 18 at the time. “It was an historical moment that never will happen again.”

Found was a familiar face in the OHA, and in Junior hockey in Toronto, and as the team’s manager and publicist, he helped Orono become well-known too. Many decades later, the Orono Orphans were even inducted into the Clarington Sports Hall of Fame, and the team’s 1949 Championship photo was featured in a video section of the Toronto Hockey Hall of Fame. “The village of Orono was very lucky to have a man like Dane Found,” says West.

West wants to ensure that Found’s efforts will be remembered, believing more recognition should be given to the man who brought organized sports to town. “There’s a small picture of Dane at the Orono Arena,” notes West. “There should be more, maybe a full-size picture of him, and a plaque saying that he was the organizer and founder of the OAAA. That should be there.” Following Found’s lead, perhaps the OAAA and some local business owners would be interested in forming a committee…


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