A Brief History (Western Ontario Athletic Association)

PrintA Brief History

The W.O.A.A. was founded in 1942 by a well known person in this region, Mr. W. T. "Doc" Cruickshank of CKNX Radio and TV, Wingham. Tremendous desire best describes the personal effort put forth by Mr. Cruickshank. Two other persons who assisted and were members of the original Executive were Mr. M. L. "Tory" Gregg of London and Mr. Alfred Lockridge of Wingham. With determination, these sports-minded citizens worked together to build the organization and are known to be the founders. There were many others who devoted their talent, time and efforts to this endeavor. In its initial stages, the W.O.A.A. was composed of seven hockey teams banded together to provide inter-community competition.

The aims established in the beginning remain the prime emphasis of the W.O.A.A. "to promote and improve year round sports, to create a kindly feeling in the small communities and rural area of Western Ontario." Unlike many other associations who are dependent upon and favorable to the larger centres, the W.O.A.A. is interested in the smallest hamlets and the larger towns. This organization provides an opportunity for competitive recreation for each individual desirous of participation regardless of skill. The "Western" has always taken a keen interest in minor sports. An event conducted each year within the region is the Young Canada Pee Wee Hockey Tournament in Goderich, Ontario.

On the 24th day of July, 1986, under the Ontario Corporations Act, the Western Ontario Athletic Association became an incorporated body. The W.O.A.A. continued to grow and thrive. It became apparent that it had out grown its small headquarters at the corner of John St. and Josephine St., in the upper compounds of a leased office space in Wingham, Ontario. In 2005 a group of dedicated individuals who had worked very closely with the W.O.A.A. over the years and who were from all areas of Western Ontario formed a Fundraising Committee and a Building Committee to build a new home for the W.O.A.A. The Fundraising Campaign was appropriately titled “Building for Our Future”. A building lot was purchased and in November, 2007 the W.O.A.A. moved into its new home on Alfred Street in Wingham. Thanks to many individual donors, corporate donors, teams and centres within the W.O.A.A., countless fundraising events and thousands of dollars of in kind donations, the W.O.A.A. now enjoys a state of the art office building complete with board room and training centre. The Grand Opening of the new facility was held in September 2008. In 2009 the remainder of the fundraising pledges were received. The Capital Campaign “Building for Our Future” was an overwhelming success.

In 2012, the W.O.A.A. had 503 teams composed of approximately 9,000 registered participants. In addition, there were approximately an 2,125 people involved throughout our association, serving as Executive Members, Convenors, officials and volunteers. 

Various anniversary celebrations have been held over the years to mark the milestones of the WOAA.  Most recently a 65th anniversary was held in 2007 with proceeds to the new building and again in 2017 in Goderich when the WOAA celebrated their 75th year.  The main theme of that event was to recognize the vast number of players, organizers, and officials that have contributed to the success of the WOAA.

In 2020 there were 459 teams composed of approximately 8,000 participants,  In addition close to 1400 people were involved in the our association, serving as Executive Members, Conveners, officials, and volunteers.  The Global Covid Pandemic forced the end of playoffs for all hockey in March 2019 as well as the cancellation of the Softball season in 2020 and the 2020-21 Senior Hockey season.  All attempts were made to run a modified minor hockey season in 2020-21 following the provincial health regulations and guidelines put in place to help slow the spread of the COVID virus.