The Sixties proved to be the Golden Decade of the NDG Maple Leafs. After their revival in the late ‘50s, capped by their narrow loss to Saskatoon in the Dominion title in ‘58, Bill Smith, a star of the ‘40s and an assistant coach in the early ‘50s observed, “Our teams were tough, but these teams looked like pros.”
But they wouldn’t develop their winning momentum immediately, thanks to a great Rosemount Bomber’s team that won the Dominion championship in 1960, and beat the Maple Leafs for the Quebec title in 1961.
From 1962 through 1966, the Maple Leafs dominated junior football in Eastern Canada. They had dozens of stars, some of whom went on to pro ranks: Jimmy McKean, Barclay Allen, Gino Berretta, Ken Galloway, Mike Gibbons, Pierre Dumont, Basil Bark, Ron Maddocks and Stan Smith. Others, such as Tommy Dyce, John Soles, Pete Regimbald, Bruce Soutter and the Schreiber brothers were equally impressive.
For five straight years, they bowled over the Ontario champions only to confront a new nemesis in the Dominion final: the Edmonton Huskies.
In 1962 in Hamilton, they lost a squeaker to Edmonton, 7-3. But the following year in Calgary, the same Huskies iced them in the bitter cold, 43-3.
In ‘64 Edmonton beat them again in Calgary, but this time the Maple Leafs, down 35-0 at half-time, won the hearts of the fans across the nation with their gallant comeback bid in the second half.
The Maple Leafs carried that “never-say-die” spirit into the ‘65 season and on a bitterly cold, windy and snow-covered field at Molson stadium Nov 20, they at last dethroned the Huskies in what resembled an Arctic survival test, 2-1.
Quarterback Barclay Allen turned out to be the difference in this narrowest of margins. Not only did he punt the two rouges for the Maple Leafs, but he outpassed the Huskies, completing eight of 13 for 81 yards. Tommy Dyce and Rick Otto ran for another 78; and Pierre Dumont, Stan Smith, Gord Rippenburg and Harvey Biggs stood out on defense.
The Maple Leafs came close to duplicating the feat the following season, but in the Dominion final at Saskatoon they lost to the Regina Rams, 29-14.
It would be their last championship of the Sixties, but what a run they had: five successive QRFU and Eastern Canadian titles topped by a national crown in ‘65.