Mike Hedgewick, an explosive halfback, won four consecutive Senior Ontario Rugby Football Union titles in the 1930s with the Sarnia Imperials. In 1936, he became the first Canadian football player to transition directly from high school to a Grey Cup champion team. Later in life, Hedgewick became a respected football official and administrator in our region.
Born in Montreal on October 22, 1916, Hedgewick attended W. D. Lowe Vocational High School. At Lowe, he competed in track and field, winning a WSSA gold medal in the broad jump (1933) and silver medals in the broad jump (1934) and 100 yard dash (1933, ’34).
Hedgewick was more successful, though, on the football field, where he sparkled at halfback for Johnny Murray’s WSSA championship teams in 1934 and 1935. In the latter season, Hedgewick was instrumental in delivering his school its first WOSSA title in the sport. He was a unanimous choice for the All-City football team in both years.
Out of high school, Hedgewick played on several memorable Sarnia Imperials football teams in the ORFU. With Hedgewick, the Imperials won ORFU titles from 1936 to 1939. In 1936, he team went a significant step further by defeating Ottawa 26-20 in the Grey Cup game. Hedgewick scored two touchdowns to cap off a phenomenal year that saw him win the ORFU scoring title and make the Eastern Canadian Second All-Star Team.
From 1937 to ’39, the Imperials lost in the Eastern Finals. The first two times, they were defeated by the Toronto Argonauts, the eventual Grey Cup champions.
In 1940, Sarnia suspended its football operations due to the war. Hedgewick kept playing, continuing to add to his list of accomplishments with the Hamilton Tigers, Hamilton Wildcats, Halifax Navy, and Windsor Rockets.
Following his playing career, Hedgewick remained heavily involved in the sport of football. He earned respect as a skilled official over the course of a 15-year refereeing career. Between 1952 and ’65, Hedgewick was referee-in-chief of the WSSA High School League.
Mike Hedgewick passed away on September 14, 2003. He was 87 years old.