Photo courtesy the City Of Toronto Archives. Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 4623, Used with permission.
On August 20, 1909 in a Toronto hospital, William DeLeigh Wilson celebrated as his second wife Jessie gave birth to their son William Stewart Montgomery Wilson. Little did they know that the baby she cradled would grow up to become one of the most successful figure skaters in Canadian history.
The Toronto Skating Club's Dupont Street rink in 1925. Photos courtesy "Skating" magazine.
Shortly after World War I, Bud and Constance were signed up for lessons at the Toronto Skating Club's rink on Dupont Street. It quickly became apparent that they had some serious talent. Young Montgomery - or 'Bud' as he liked to be called - had his first success in 1922, when he won the club's junior championship at the age of twelve. A local paper described his performance in that year's club ice show as akin to "a miniature wizard on the ice, not inferior in degree to even the professionals."
Clipping from "The College Times", Courtesy Jill Spellman, Archivist, Upper Canada College
As a youth, Bud's talent wasn't limited to the ice. He was Upper Canada College's Junior Swimming Champion in 1925. In 1926, he won his school's Open High Jump competition and was second in the broad jump. A skater excelling in jumping? Colour me surprised. In 1924, at age fourteen, Bud made his first trip to the Canadian Figure Skating Championships and finished second in the senior men's event behind John (Juan) Zaldivar Machado.
Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine
When Bud's sister Constance's partnership to Errol Morson dissolved in 1926, the Wilson siblings decided to give it a go as a pairs team. In 1927, they finished second at the Canadian Championships. Bud also won the silver medal in senior men's that year - his fourth Canadian medal in singles. In addition, he won medals in both the men's and pairs competitions that year at his first international competition, the North American Championships, which was hosted that year by his home club and became one of the first four skaters in Canada to pass the First Class Gold Medal test. Bud and Constance were coached by Gustave Lussi and Walter Arian.
Montgomery Wilson. Photos courtesy City Of Toronto Archives (left) and Canadian Olympic Committee (right).
Left: Bud Wilson, Maude and Cecil Smith and Jack Eastwood. Photo courtesy "Skating Through The Years". Right: Constance and Bud Wilson.
In 1929 and 1930, Bud began establishing his dominance internationally. He won the 1929 North American titles in both singles and pairs and the 1929 and 1930 Canadian titles in both singles and pairs, as well as earning a fourth place finish at the 1930 World Championships in New York City behind Switzerland's Georges Gautschi. After winning his third Canadian men's title in 1931, he travelled to Ottawa and defended both his men's and pairs crown at the North American Championships. The February 6, 1931 edition of the Montreal Gazette noted, "The new men's singles champion is one of the most consistent winners of national and international crowns skating today. In addition to performing his compulsory school figures with great precision, he gave a beautiful exhibition of free skating."
Photo courtesy City Of Toronto Archives
Photos courtesy City Of Toronto Archives
Bud's success continued from 1933 to 1936. In singles, pairs and fours, he amassed an astonishing eleven more medals at the Canadian and North American Championships - most of them gold. He also represented Canada at the 1936 Olympic Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, placing a strong fourth in the men's competition. After Constance's marriage and retirement, Bud soldiered on, winning two more Canadian and North American titles. Sadly, both of his parents passed away during the height of his competitive career.
Photos courtesy City Of Toronto Archives
Photo courtesy the City Of Toronto Archives
In 1939, Bud made the difficult decision to turn professional. In a letter penned to "Skating" magazine, he wrote, "I finally arrived at the point in my life when I had to decide if I would give up my main outside interest, skating, and concentrate on business. After weeks of indecision, I decided that skating has become too much a part of me so I have signed a contract with the St. Paul Figure Skating Club. I am glad that I can continue my connection with skating and will do my utmost to interest others in what I consider the most mentally absorbing of all sports. I have tried most lines of athletics and have not found anything to take its place in the so-called 'off season'. It is quite evident, too, that others feel as I do because there is now no 'off season', skating being an all-year sport in many places both here and abroad. I would have liked to have skated in another Olympic Championship, but now that I have turned professional I have no regrets and will instead try to have a pupil of mine take part in the Olympics sometime. I am anxious to continue exhibition skating and have arranged to take a certain amount of time off for exhibitions. In this way I hope to see and keep up with anything new in skating and carnivals. I want to take this opportunity to thank the clubs and skaters who have given me so many pleasant times as an amateur; I hope to keep up my connections with them and to assist them in the future when I can."
Ralph McCreath and Bud Wilson with the Caley Sisters. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.
As he had planned, Bud regularly appeared in St. Paul's carnivals, skating duets with Erna Andersen and Christine Newson. In the spring of 1942, he became an American citizen. His professional career was interrupted for a time when he served overseas as a Major in the U.S. Field Artillery, 75th Division. He earned a Bronze Star for his Wartime efforts.
Bud serving in the military. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.
Perhaps unable to face what had happened in Belgium every day at the rink in Boston, Bud took a coaching job for a time at the Michigan State University but returned to live in Lincoln, Massachusetts after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Bud and Mary Ann Wilson. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.
Bud passed away in Concord, Massachusetts at the age of fifty five on November 15, 1964, just over three years after the Sabena Crash. He left behind wife Mary Ann (Winston) Wilson, two sons, Winston and Stewart and a daughter, Marcia.
Left: Bud Wilson, months before his death in 1964. Right: Bud Wilson (right) clowning around in a carnival during his coaching days.
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