May 04, 2015

Toots Holway

The Holway family of Belleville, Ontario must have been a fun group. The family of eight, including six children, had life-long nicknames like "Toots" and "Bouncer" stick. They all may have had catchy monikers, but history has only recorded the two hockey stars of the family.

Albert Holway would grow up from a local hockey hero to a National Hockey League defenseman. At 6'2" and 190lbs he was an imposing defender in five seasons in the 1920s. His penalty minute totals suggest he was not afraid to use his size advantage liberally.

But from a very young age he was only known as "Toots," thanks to neighbor's witty comment. Even his own mother called him by the handle.

Toots' older brother, Harold was dubbed "Bouncer" at some stage in his life. Perhaps it was because of his own zest for the physical game.

The two Holway boys would go on to professional hockey careers, sometimes as teammates, and later went into business together.

Toots left Belleville in 1924, signing with the Toronto St. Pats of the National Hockey League. He played in Toronto for parts of three seasons before joining the Montreal Maroons in 1926 - just in time to win the Stanley Cup!

A nasty ankle injury that threatened his career, as a tendon was severed. Obviously Holway returned to the ice for many more years of solid play, but the Maroons moved him along. He would join the Pittsburgh Pirates for his final NHL season in 1928-29 and continued playing until 1937.

Toots and brother Bouncer purchased a couple of gas stations, one in Belleville and one in Trenton, Ontario. They would run the stations for many years after hanging up the skates. Toots eventually sold his interests and took a job with O'Keefe brewery late in his working life.

Toots was also very active in the youth hockey scene in Belleville. "Toots' Boys" were always a threat to win every game.

On November 20th, 1968 Toots Holway passed away after a battle with bowel cancer. He was 66 years old.

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