by Brandon Mayer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Many Kemptville area locals are likely familiar with the story of famous ice hockey player Frank Boucher, who played for the New York Rangers during their inaugural years, and ultimately helped shape the team into what it is today. As reported in the Times on October 27, Frank retired in the Kemptville area and was known for his support and encouragement of local hockey players throughout his career.
Perhaps less known is ice hockey coach Sgt. Frank Boucher, nephew of the Rangers star with the same name. The younger Frank was a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) officer who also filled the role of Head Coach for the Ottawa RCAF Flyers hockey team. The Flyers played in the 1948 Winter Olympics as Team Canada, where Frank coached them to a gold medal. It was expected that Canada would not be sending a hockey team to the Olympic games in 1948 until in the eleventh hour, an RCAF squadron leader was granted permission to use the Flyers as a base team from which to build a Team Canada for the Olympics. Frank and his father John “Buck” Boucher were chosen to coach the team, and their hard work paid off.
Like his uncle, the younger Frank was a local of the Kemptville area. Oxford Station resident Tom Taylor reached out to the Times with this revelation, having known Frank personally many years ago. Frank was a member of Kemptville’s local 212 Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion where Tom remains a member. Tom doesn’t remember the specific details of any conversations but does remember chatting with Frank. “I only socialized with Frank at the Legion and he was there occasionally,” Tom told the Times. “He was a very quiet and soft-spoken man.” Tom pointed out that there is a picture of the 1948 RCAF Flyers mounted on the wall of the Legion’s local 212 Branch, which is almost certainly a tribute to the former member who was also a famous ice hockey coach.
Many decades after the historic gold medal win by the Flyers in 1948, the surviving members of the team were given the honour of being named Canada’s greatest military athletes of the 20th century in a ceremony in 2000. Frank Boucher was still alive, and attended the ceremony, reliving his team’s victory. Three years later, in 2003, Frank Boucher passed away in the Town of Osgoode, about 15 minutes northeast of Kemptville. He is buried in Beachwood Cemetery in Ottawa, which is Canada’s National Military Cemetery.
The Royal Canadian Legion Local 212 Branch could not be reached for comment.