"Squeak" Reason was a key founder of the Voyageurs
In the early 1970s, Kingston hockey players who graduated from Midget were forced to quit the game or move out of town to continue playing. Bill Reason decided to do something about this problem – the solution was the Kingston Voyageurs.
Reason, who died in October 2017 at the age of 94, was one of the founders of the club, along with Bill Darlington, Sam Kay, Bruce Landon and Jack Cliff. “Each of us put in $100 to get the team started,” recalls Sam Kay, the last surviving member of the founding five.
As Kingston Township Reeve J. Earl McEwen noted in the initial program for the club: “Now local youngsters from pre-school age tots to young adults can take part in an organized hockey program in their own community.”
In 1973-74, the team started in the Kingston Industrial League before joining the Metro Junior B Hockey League, with players from Gananoque to Napanee. Twenty years later, the team switched to the Ontario Junior Hockey League, where it now plays. It currently has a roster of players from across North America, although a number are from the Kingston area. Among its illustrious alumni are local NHL greats Kirk Muller, Doug Gilmour and Scott Arniel.
With predominantly local players, the Vees had great success in the late 1980s, winning back to back MacKenzie Division titles. They were led by Kingston's Scotty Martin who had a record 62-goal season in 1988-89. In 2009, the Voyageurs won the Ontario championship and earned a berth in the RBC Cup national finals.
Bill Reason tended goal as a youngster, but as an adult it was clear that his strength was in coaching and organizing. He dedicated his life to sports and helping others. “If you had a problem, he was always there to help,” says Paul Watts, the long-time statistician with the Voyageurs. “It was everybody else first and him second.”
Starting in the 1930s, Reason served for more than 60 years as a hockey and baseball coach, referee, umpire and scout. He earned the nickname “Squeak” from his high-pitched referee and umpiring calls.
“Squeak was a great hockey man and a great coach,” recalls Sam Kay. “He would step onto the ice for practice and there wouldn’t be a peep from the players. Everyone was totally disciplined.”
Reason scouted in the NHL for the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and California Golden Seals for 16 years. Remarkably, he traveled to games across Eastern Ontario and the northern US without being able to drive. His son Bill Reason Jr. recalls many times when he chauffeured his father to scouting assignments. “He loved the game and had a huge skill in assessing hockey players,” he recalls.
With the death of his wife Marie in 1982, he shifted his focus to helping the less fortunate. He made 17 trips to Bosnia during the Bosnian War in the 1990s to assist those in need. “His social conscience and spirituality really took hold after Mom passed away,” says Bill Reason Jr.
Reason is a member of the Kingston and District Sports Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 2000.