May 05, 2015

Rene Joliat

Astute hockey fans will instantly recognize the name Joliat with Aurele Joliat, early day star of the Montreal Canadiens. Joliat teamed up with Howie Morenz in a Hall of Fame career that included three Stanley Cup wins and one Hart Trophy.

But did you know that Aurele had an older brother who, too, played in the National Hockey League?

René Joliat, who was three years older than Aurele, was born on April 25th, 1898 and grew up in Ottawa. They were the son of Emile, the Ottawa Police Chief. He was a no-nonsense man, and he didn't always support the boys athletic adventures. One story has Emile very unhappy when he came home early one day and found the duo pole vaulting over the house!

Rene was quite the athlete, starring at football, wrestling and rowing, as well as hockey. Though his statistics hardly stand out against his peers, he was sought out by the Montreal Canadiens. In December 1924, Rene, Roland Lafleur and goaltender Gene Decosse were all brought in from Ottawa for a look.

Decosse never played, while both Rene and Roland Lafleur were cut after the opening game of the season versus Toronto. Aurele went on to a career best 30 goals in just 25 games, while Rene never re-appeared in the NHL again. He was soon reinstated as an amateur.

Rene Joliat returned to Ottawa and soon took a job with the Royal Canadian Mint. He got married and had children, while continuing to play recreational hockey in the Civil Servants League, both with the Royal Mint team and the Post Office team.

O August 10, 1953, René Joliat committed suicide by jumping some 30 meters from Ottawa's Rockcliffe Park. He was 55 years old.

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