At Antwerp 1920, Jacob Walter “Wally” Byron was the goalie for the gold medal winning Canadian team that was represented by the Winnipeg Falcons who had just defeated the University of Toronto for the Canadian Championships Allan Cup. The invitation to the Olympics came so late that the team left immediately for their trip overseas. Byron nearly did not go to the Olympic Games after being hit in the face with a puck in Game 2 of the Allan Cup finals which, left a five inch gash about his eye. Despite that, he only allowed one goal for the 29 that Canada scored against their opponents.
A goalie for the Winnipeg Falcons prior to joining the 223rd Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force to serve in World War I, Byron returned home unscathed and finished up his career with the Falcons in 1925. He served as a player/coach from 1930-32 with the Prince Albert Mintos.
Byron grew up in Selkirk, Manitoba and moved with his family to Winnipeg around 1911. In 1924 he married his wife Inga and had two children. He bowled competitively and played intermediate team baseball with several other members of the Falcons. His professional career included working for North Shore Oil and Refrigeration, moving to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and then to Brandon in 1939. After that he worked for Anglo Canadian Oil for 25 years before he retired in 1964, settling in Winnipeg.
In 2014, the Winnipeg Falcons were honoured in a Heritage Minute short film by Heritage Canada. Permanent displays honouring the Falcons and their Olympic victory are at The Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame and Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. In recognition of the their achievement, Hockey Canada had the national junior team wear replicas of the famous old gold and black Falcons uniforms for a 2004 World Junior Championship pre-tournament game in Winnipeg.
Along with members of the Winnipeg Falcons, Byron was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in 1980, Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985 and Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 2006.
|1920 Antwerp||Ice Hockey||Men||Gold|