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March 09, 2016

Shep Mayer

Sheppard Edwin Mayer was born in Sturgeon Falls, Ontario. He was a dominating youth and junior player in Sturgeon Falls and nearby North Bay, learning the game on the frozen rivers in the area.. A strong playoff run with the Sturgeon Falls Indians in 1942 caught the Leafs attention. They signed him in April 1942 and assigned him to the Guelph Biltmores junior team the following season.

Mayer, a right winger who could also play center or even defense, was an aggressive player despite his size. He was short - five-foot-eight - and stocky - 180 pounds - while allowed him to be a powerfully fast skater. He was very strong, often lifting weights and training in a gym. But he did not do that to improve his hockey ability so as much as to enhance his chances in the ring. He was also an amateur boxer.

After a solid season in Guelph, the Leafs initially planned to let Shep Mayer get some pro experience with their farm team in Hershey. But with the Leafs roster becoming increasingly depleted by military commitments in World War II, Mayer started the 1942-43 season with the Leafs.

By November Mayer, too, was called upon to represent his country. he was sent to Brandon, Manitoba to work with the Air Force. Unlike a lot of players or civilians working for the air force at that time, Mayer was not just there to work on the base. He became a pilot officer.

He also was the star of the Royal Canadian Air Force teams that he played with in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and North Bay.

Mayer never seemed to have much interest in returning to the Leafs upon his discharge. He stayed with the RCAF, moving his family and three daughters across the county and even living in France for four years.

Mayer eventually began working for the Department of Veteran Affairs and returned home to North Bay.

Mayber passed away in 2005 at the age of 81. He had been very sick in the latter years of his life, suffering through five types of cancer before being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

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