Ian Allison was an excellent all-around athlete perhaps best known for leading Canada’s 1936 silver medalist Olympic basketball team in scoring. A World War II veteran, he also played briefly for the Toronto Argonauts before embarking on a teaching and coaching career at Walkerville Collegiate.
Allison was born on July 26, 1909 in Greenock, a seaside shipbuilding town in Scotland.
He moved with his family to Canada in time to attend school at Walkerville Collegiate, where he starred in basketball, soccer, and track and field and earned 12 WOSSA medals. Specifically, he was a member of five WSSA soccer championship teams and twice won individual gold in the WOSSA 440-yard dash.
Later, at Assumption College, Allison turned to football, where he stood out as an all-conference halfback. He went on to play for St. Mike’s College in the Ontario Rugby Football Union. He also represented a Windsor team in the Michigan-Ontario league before reaching the lofty heights of the Toronto Argonauts. Unfortunately, a bout of blood poisoning brought his spell with the team to a premature end.
Allison’s greatest sporting success came on the basketball court. He played a part on a championship team at the University of Toronto, and qualified for the 1936 Berlin Olympics with the Windsor Ford V-8s. At the Games, Allison led the team in scoring with 24 points, including 4 in the final against the United States. Although Canada lost that game 19-8, its silver medal remains our country’s only Olympic medal in basketball.
Allison worked as a teacher at Walkerville Collegiate Institute for a forty-year span, where he was also the Athletic Director and a regular coach. He won several championships in the latter capacity, including the 1956-57 WSSA Senior Boys basketball title and the WOSSA title ’52-53. Outside of school, he became the first coach in Windsor AKO Junior Football history in 1946. His team finished with a 5-2-1 record.
Allison’s teaching career was interrupted during World War II. He served from 1941 to ’45 with the Alberta Armoured Regiment and Alberta Tank Corps, reaching the rank of Major. He saw action in France, Belgium, and Italy, including at Dieppe and Monte Cassino.
Frank Halbus, a Professor of Physical Education at the Ontario College of Education, identified Allison as the finest all-around athlete he had ever taught.
An original inductee into the University of Windsor Sports Hall of Fame, Allison passed away on August 4, 1990.