Harry Wade led the Tilsonburg Livingstons to the 1952 Canadian Senior “A” Basketball Championship. He went on to compete at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, where he was Canada’s top scorer.
Wade was born in Windsor on March 12, 1928.
A product of J. E. Benson Public School, he attended Patterson Collegiate Institute from 1943 to ’48. Wade’s strength and height (he was 6’5”) allowed him to develop into an outstanding schoolboy athlete. He played a single season of Junior basketball at Patterson before graduating to the senior ranks in both that sport and football, where he played as a centre and offensive and defensive end respectively.
On the gridiron, Wade won the 1946 WSSA Football Championship as his team defeated Assumption 17 to 12 in the deciding game. He was named Second-Team All-City. The following season, Patterson fell to Assumption 6-0 in the Championship Final, but he was individually recognized as First-Team All-City.
On the basketball court, Wade was a key contributor as Joe Mencel’s Patterson teams won back-to-back WSSA, WOSSA, and OFSAA All-Ontario Championships in 1947 and ’48.
In ’47, Wade scored 27 points and the winning basket in Patterson’s ’47-46 provincial championship victory over Toronto Runnymede. He again led the Panthers in ’48 as the team overcame Toronto Western Tech 54-45 and Ottawa Glebe 53-46 in semifinals and finals respectively. Wade contributed 22 points then 14 points in the two games.
Wade was twice named First-Team All-City for basketball. He shared the honours with Ian Howie (Kennedy), Jack Bruce, Doug Bell (both Sandwich), and Elmer Robitaille (Assumption) in 1947 and Bill Pataky, Chris Ellis (both Assumption), Eddie Miles (Riverside), and Bob Simpson (Patterson) in ’48.
Outside of school, Wade suited up for Howard Riggs’ Westminster Bible Class, the 1946 Canadian Junior Basketball Champions. The team defeated Montreal YMHA in the finals after earlier victories over teams from Toronto, Welland, and London. He also played for the 1948 Windsor Rockets in the Senior Ontario Rugby Football Union.
Wade attended the University of Western Ontario, where he played football and basketball, between 1948 and ’51. With the Mustangs, he won the League and Canadian Championships twice in basketball (’49-50 and ’50-51) and once in football (’49-50). He missed the ’50-51 football season due to injury. He was named to the League All-Star Team for basketball in both ’49-50 and ’50-51.
After leaving Western, Wade took a job with Livingston Products and settled in Tillsonburg, Ontario. There, he started to play with the Tillsonburg Livingstons and immediately because the team’s leading scorer. In the 1951-52 season, Wade’s Livingstons, coached by future University of Windsor coach Paul Thomas, captured the Canadian Senior “A” Basketball Championship by defeating the Windsor Jaycees, Toronto Tri-Bells, Sault St. Marie Gunners, Montreal YMHA, and, in the finals, Winnipeg Grads.
The Livingstons then played a best-of-five qualifying series against Wade’s alma mater for the right to represent Canada at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki. Tillsonburg took the series three games to one with Wade as its leading scorer throughout. Significantly, the Livingstons’ key players that year were all from Windsor: Wade, Bob Phibbs, Bob Simpson, Bill Coulthard, Woody Campbell, and Jim “Red” Curren.
In Finland, Canada was tasked with navigating a qualifying tournament to earn a place in the medal round. Wade scored a team-leading 14 points as Canada opened with a 68-57 win over Italy. Next, he added 26 points, again the highest of any Canadian player, in a 72-51 victory over Romania. Canada wrapped up the preliminary round by overcoming Egypt 63-57; Wade had 12 points.
In the Medal round, Canada lost two heartbreaking contests by a total of three points. Wade’s team fell 57-55 to Brazil and 82-81 to Argentina. Wade scored 9 and 13 points, respectively, in the two matches. Emotionally drained, Canada fell 81-65 to the Philippines to close out the tournament. Wade scored a team-leading 10 points in that match to finish with 84 total points across 6 games. His 14 points-per-game average made him Canada’s leading scorer for the Olympics.
Wade returned to Tillsonburg after the Olympics and continued to play for the Livingstons. He reached the Canadian Senior “A” Finals in 1952-53, again as the team’s leading scorer.
Wade was induced into the University of Western Ontario’s Hall of Fame in 1985.
He still resides in Tillsonburg.