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ARCHIVED - Backcheck: a Hockey Retrospective

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A few weeks before the start of the 1951 training camp, Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Bill Barilko and a friend took off on a private plane from Timmins, Ontario, for a fishing trip. They were never seen again. The wreckage wasn’t found for twelve years. But the legend of Bill Barilko has been kept alive by the Grievous Angels’ “Bill Barilko Song,” and the Tragically Hip’s “Fifty-Mission Cap.”


By the Canadian Press

TIMMINS -- The air and ground search for hockey player Bill Barilko and his doctor companion swung to the rugged bushland 70 miles east of here today following reports that a small plane crashed in the area.

Land Party Starts Out

A provincial government plane and a land party started out for the area when a railway section hand said he saw a plane going down yesterday in the bush south of Cochrane.

The missing men, Dr. Henry Hudson of Timmins, and Barilko, defenceman with Toronto Maple Leafs, set out Friday from nearby South Porcupine on a fishing trip. They were heading for one of the lakes north of Seal River, 500 miles north of here and close to James Bay.

They planned to return Monday at the latest.

Provincial police sent two squads of officers to the area and planned to interview the railway employe.

Two RCAF Dakotas, however, continued the search of the James Bay area.

The two men were last reported at far-north Rupert House at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Hunt By Six Craft

Six planes started a search yesterday, with their pilots checking the numerous tiny lakes on which the men could have landed in case of bad weather or if their plane ran out of gas. An electrical storm as darkness fell grounded the searchers.

Thunder and hail swept the area during the early evening. Later, heavy rain fell, but there was a prospect of clearing skies today.

The RCAF prepared to set up an advance search base at Kapuskasing Airport, about 75 miles northwest of this gold-mining town, and assigned two big Dakotas to follow the proposed flight to the missing aircraft between far-north Rupert House and Timmins. The planes carry para-rescue crews.

Two other RCAF planes were standing by at Centralia, near London, ready to join the search as soon as the base is established.

Dr Hudson's wife said she refused to worry about the safety of her husband and Barilko. Her husband, who has been flying five or six years, flew on fishing trips almost every nice weekend.

Hudson Is Good Pilot

"As far as I'm concerned they are not missing," she said. "They're out of gas and down on some lake. My husband is a very careful pilot and bad weather or lack of gas may have forced him down."

Barilko, 25-year-old Toronto Maple leaf defence man fired the overtime goal that broke up the last of five overtime playoff games with Montreal Canadiens and gave the Leafs the Stanley Cup last spring.

Dr. Hudson is the brother of Dr. Lou Hudson of Timmins. Dr. Lou is formerly of Ottawa and was a star hockey player with Toronto Varsity Grads in the 20s.