Ray Truant was a two-time Grey Cup champion with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 1950s and a standout athlete at the University of Western Ontario. He enjoyed a successful second career as a high school teacher and coach in Brantford.
Truant was born in Detroit on October 10, 1930 to Windsorite parents. The Truant family lived in Windsor, but Ray’s parents were visiting friends in Detroit when his mother went into labour.
Truant attended John Campbell Elementary and Kennedy Collegiate, where he attained First-Team All-City Basketball honours in 1948-49.
Truant attended Assumption College from the 1949-50 school year. There, he played on the school’s Ontario Rugby Football League Junior finalist football team. He was also a member of Assumption’s famous “Freshman Five” basketball lineup, which also included Bill Pataky, Jack Bruce, Bruno Bitkowski, and Bob Simpson. While the team did not belong to any league, it played a full exhibition schedule against colleges from Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, plus home-and-home series with Western, McMaster, and Toronto in Ontario. The team’s 15-11 record was highlighted by two victories over McMaster and Assumption’s first defeat of Wayne State University in 35 years.
Truant transferred to the University of Western Ontario, at the time affiliated with Assumption, for his final three years of university. He compiled an impressive resume as a football and basketball player with the Mustangs. In 1950-51, his first season with Western, Truant played defensive halfback and some quarterback in football and guard in basketball as his Mustangs captured league championships in both sports. The next year, Truant’s basketball team took the CIAU Championship, defeating the University of Alberta in the finals. He was named an OUAA All-Star in that sport, and an All-Canadian in football.
In 1952-53, his senior year, Truant was named Western’s Athlete of the Year. His football Mustangs won the OUAA Championship while his basketball team took home its second consecutive Canadian Championship. He was named an OUAA All-Star in both sports. In the latter, he was the only unanimous pick on the Canadian Press All-Canadian Team.
Truant played in the CFL with Hamilton for five seasons. In 1953, his first campaign, Truant’s Tiger-Cats defeated Winnipeg 12-6 to capture the Grey Cup. In 1956, his finest individual season, Truant was nominated for the Schenley Award, which recognized the best Canadian player in the CFL. He led the “Big Four” in interceptions with eight. Unfortunately, Truant suffered a serious ankle injury toward the end of that season while tackling his former Assumption teammate Bob Simpson, then playing for Ottawa. The injury eventually forced Truant to prematurely retire at the end of the following season. In 1957, his final year in the CFL, Truant won a second Grey Cup as his Hamilton team defeated Winnipeg 32-7 in the final.
After his playing days, Truant accepted a teaching position in Brantford, Ontario, where he lived, worked, and coached until his retirement in 1986. At Brantford Collegiate Institute, Truant won a city title in football while also coaching basketball and track and field. At North Park College Institute, his next school, Truant won two city Senior Football championships, back-to-back city and CWOSSA Junior Football titles, and a city title in Midget Basketball. He also continued to coach track and field.
Truant was inducted into the University of Western Ontario’s “W” Club Sports Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Brantford and Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.