Bruce Walker played six seasons in the Canadian Football League with the Ottawa Rough Riders between 1979 and ’84. He won the Tom Pate Memorial Award, given annually to the CFL’s “Man of the Year” in ’83. He continues to win recognition for his tireless charity and community-building work.
Walker was born in Windsor on April 16, 1955.
A versatile athlete in his youth, Walker played football, baseball, and track with distinction at Assumption High School. As quarterback, he led the Purple Raiders to consecutive WSSA titles in 1973 and ’74 under coach Gerry Philp. He was a First-Team All-City pick in both football and basketball both years.
In track and field, Walker competed in the OFSAA All-Ontario Championships in 1972 (where he finished seventh in long jump), ’73 (fifth in the 110-metre hurdles), and ’74 (third in the 400-metre hurdles). At the WSSA level, Walker recorded top-five finishes in the 100-metre, 200-metre, and 400-metre races and the triple jump.
Walker was also an accomplished baseball shortstop. He was named MVP of the Mic Mac Junior League in 1973 and ’74, when he also won MVP at the Ontario Junior Tournament. Also in ’74, Walker won the Canadian Championships playing for South Windsor. In ’76, he suited up in the Essex County Senior League for the Windsor Chiefs, which won a bronze medal at the Canadian Championships. Walker, who hit .450, was crowned Batting Champion and Rookie of the Year while also leading the Chiefs in RBI. In ’78, Walker was invited to play for the Canadian National Team, but he declined due to his commitments to University of Windsor football.
Walker played quarterback, halfback, and wide receiver over the course of his career in football. Out of high school, he spent a single season (1974-75) on scholarship at North Dakota State University, where he played quarterback. He returned home to attend the University of Windsor, where he played four seasons of football and also contributed to the track and field team.
In the 1975-76 season, Walker’s Windsor football team won the OUAA Championship but eventually lost in the Yates Cup Game. By ’77-78, he was an OUAA All-Star and Windsor’s MVP and Offensive Player of the Year. He was invited to play at the Can-Am Bowl in Tampa, Florida. In track and field competition, Walker took a bronze medal in the long jump at the OUAA Championships with a leap of 22 feet, 5 inches. He was named the University of Windsor’s Best All-Around Athlete.
The following year, Walker was again named an OUAA All-Star and repeated as Windsor’s MVP and Offensive Player of the Year. He was also honoured as CIAU All-Canadian at Wide Receiver and the University of Windsor’s Student-Athlete of the Year. Walker returned to the Can-Am Bowl, where he captained his team.
Walker graduated from the University of Windsor in 1979 with a Bachelor of Human Kinetics Degree and also a Bachelor of Education.
Following university, Walker enjoyed a six-year spell with the CFL’s Ottawa Rough Riders, for which he played wide receiver and punt and kickoff returner. Walker reached the 1981 Grey Cup Game with the Rough Riders but fell 23-26 to Edmonton. At the end of his career in professional football, Walker had accumulated 4 touchdowns and 1,500 career receiving yards, averaging 12.5 yards per catch. He reached 3,000 career all-purpose yards. In ’82, his finest individual season, he managed 46 receptions – good for 608 receiving yards – and 1,002 kickoff and return yards.
Walker retired in 1984. In his final season, he was given the Ronald McDonald House Player of the Year Award, which recognized his athletic ability and community work.
In retirement, Walker has worked with children with physical disabilities. He is regularly involved in fundraising for a number of charities, and he speaks at over 120 events each year. Walker has been named an Honourary Chairman of Ronald McDonald House and is Race Director for “Do It for Dad,” a charitable event that had raised over $500,000 at the time of his induction for prostate cancer research and care.
Professionally, Walker is Vice-President of Sales and Marketing for the Ottawa Athletic Club, a 150,000-square-foot facility that provides services for 6,000 members. He currently resides outside of Ottawa in Orleans, Ontario.