J. T. PAYETTE
John Thomas Payette, or ‘J.T.’ was born in Penetanguishene in 1884. In 1914, he became the sole owner of the P. Payette Co. of engineers and machinists, founded by his uncle Peter Payette. Under J.T.’s leadership, the company flourished, making him a cornerstone of Penetanguishene industry.
While J.T built an empire of industry, land and then Standardbred race horses, his greatest achievement was the construction of arguably the best half-mile harness race track in Ontario. The annual Dominion Day races held at his track were one of the top social events of the year in Simcoe County with nearly 6,000 people attending the July 1st race held in 1920.
J.T. and his first-class of stable horses were well known throughout North America as he was thought to be one of the premier sportsmen of light harness racing. For several seasons, he was represented at Grand Circuit races by his horses which included ‘Cream of Tartar’, ‘Lucy L’ and the legendary ‘Simcoe Harvester’.
He would serve as Mayor of Penetanguishene from 1921-23.
Harvey Stevens was born and raised in Windsor, Ontario. He started working at the Weber Tool factory there and when it relocated to Penetanguishene in 1967, Harvey and his wife Jean moved here with it.
When the Penetanguishene Youth Bowling Council was formed in the early 1970s at the Knight Haven Bowling Lanes, Harvey became a keen volunteer and organizer and he recruited many men and women to be certified as coaches for youth bowling over the years. He served as the Program Director, which at its peak saw over 100 children bowling all six lanes, in various levels. This occurred for several seasons. He was instrumental in organizing funds being raised through bingos for many years to help his kids. He even served as Zone Director.
An avid coach, his teams would win over 15 zone championships and two of his bowlers would win Canadian championships. His involvement spanned 38 years between 1974 and 2012, clearly exemplifying the status of a true ‘builder’!
Larry Patenaude was born in 1944 and raised in Penetanguishene. As a youth and young man, Larry participated in and developed a keen love of sports, particularly hockey, bowling, baseball and softball.
In the mid-1970s, Larry began volunteering and helped organize the minor softball program across the bay at nearby Toanche, in Tiny Township. At that time Larry’s skills as an organizer kicked as he and many others organized events and fundraised for the new beautiful ball fields located at Toanche. He was also instrumental for many years in organizing the minor T-ball program in Penetanguishene.
As president of the Toanche Park Board, he organized, coached and scheduled the various teams and leagues. His Toanche teams have won innumerable provincial championships and he also sat on the executive of the Ontario Amateur Softball Association for many years.
Down through the decades, he almost single-handedly maintained the Toanche ball fields, a task he amazingly continues to do to this very day.
Bert Mason, born and raised in Penetanguishene, was a coach, trainer, executive member and volunteer with our local Minor Hockey Association for four decades. Many of his teams won several local tournaments, but three were provincial championships. He would receive the PMHA Coach of the Year Award on two occasions.
He also coached baseball for nine years and ball hockey for four years. Bert joined the Penetanguishene Sports Hall of Fame Committee in 1991 and has been heavily involved in all aspects of the Hall’s functions ever since. He has served as its Vice-President for the past 10 years.
Most importantly, Bert has spearheaded, along with the late John Desroches, the PSHOF bingo fundraising group which for the past 21 years has now raised more than $370,000 towards the Hall of Fame addition, displays and improvements.
Bert has been an indispensable force to the continuing success of the PSHOF and helped make it what it is today.
JOHN W. DESROCHERS
Born and raised in Penetanguishene, John W. DesRochers’ interest in curling was piqued by his father Alcime, who was an avid curler for many years. From a young age, John curled at the 2-sheet outdoor skating and curling ice at the Mental Health Center in the 1960s.
He eventually became President of the Penetanguishene Curling Association which at the time curled part-time at the Penetanguishene Arena in the 1950s and 60s. In the 1970s, John was one of the driving forces for the planning and fundraising for a new curling facility to be built at the waterfront park.
With a large group of volunteers and tradesmen, John spearheaded the construction effort which saw the present facility open in 1973. John was on the executive for many years and helped with fundraising to repay the town and expand the club’s activities, to make the facility widely used year-round for community functions.
As a shoe designer by trade, he also invented his own curling ‘slider’, a staple in today’s curling attire.