Finding Bill Barilko

LeafsThose who Google Bill Barilko usually end up at my tribute to Bashin' Bill. Here's the summary I wrote for that page.

It was April 21st, 1951, game 5 of the Stanley Cup final between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. At the 2:53 mark of the first overtime period, Bill Barilko scored the last goal of his life winning the Stanley Cup for the Leafs.

The 24 year old defenseman perished in a light plane crash that summer while on a fishing trip to Northern Ontario. Not until his body was recovered 11 years later in the bush near Cochrane, Ontario, did the Leafs win another championship.

Marlene Pearce found my Bill Barilko page via a Google search and sent me the following note.

I am the daughter of Ron Boyd who was the helicopter pilot who found the crash site of Bill Barilko and Dr. Hudson's Fairchild 24. If you'd like more information and articles, government letters, etc. from my dad's scrapbook, I would be happy to share this with you. The story of the discovery of the site is quite interesting.

As you can imagine, I was very interested in everything Marlene could share with me about the discovery of Barilko's crash site. This is something I want to share with fellow fans of the legend of Bill Barilko. This, in essence, is why I blog.

Marlene sent me four images I'm sharing below. The verbiage above each image are Marlene's words. If you click a picture, it will take you to the Flickr page for the image where you can view it at a larger size.

1. Newspaper Article explaining the entire situation around the discovery of the plane and crash site. I think you'll find it interesting. My father's name was Ron Boyd and he was with his engineer, Mr. Phil Weston.

Barilko Newspaper2

2. A photo from the newspaper of the wreckage, along with original photos my father took with his camera of the wreckage, and the crash site as he and Mr. Phil Weston flew over it.

Barilko Newspaper Pictures & Photo3

3. A letter from the Department of Lands and Forests giving a commendation to my father and to those involved in the discovery.

Barilko Letter fromDOLF3

4. A letter from F. A. MacDougall, Deputy Minister to the Department of Lands and Forests re: my father's work in this case.

Barilko Letter sent to DOLF

Thanks, Marlene, for taking the time to scan these images and send them to me. It pleases me that this exercise brought back wonderful memories of your father and his career.

He's our Buddy Holly, immortalized by the Hip's "Fifty Mission Cap", and scorer of the 1951 Stanley Cup winner for my beloved Maple Leafs. Every year, Bill Barilko's legend grows.

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Comments (11 - click here to join in!)


This is just awesome. Good work.

September 25, 2008 @ 9:52 PM


tragically hip rocks

February 21, 2009 @ 7:34 PM

steve mundy

Thank you for posting the truth about this event.

It is hard to believe that people try to claim this discovery and take credit for something that Ron did.

I am a pilot, and I have flown with Ron, and he taught me to fly his Jetranger. He was a good friend, and a great pilot. Unlike those trying to take credit for his discovery, he was a man of great character.

September 23, 2009 @ 9:34 AM

gordon ronald boyd

It pleases me to know how a great man came to find another great man and to see it put to rest the myth and untruths of the discovery of bill barilko. my father was a proud man and never really talked too much about his acheivements. I can attest to all the facts my sister Marlene has spoken of and the documentation provided. all of this noted, myself and all of his family were extremely proud of him and his accomplishments, which are way too many to list as a father and one of the best helicopter pilots in all of Canada.

March 6, 2010 @ 12:25 PM

Marlene Pearce

Thank you Mike for posting this information on our behalf. Years later we are still battling with people who are trying to lay claim to something they cannot prove and want recognition for. I do not understand why someone would want to lay claim to achievement that is not theirs. Thank you for posting the truth and continuing to allow those of us trying to remain honourable, a venue to do so.

May 22, 2010 @ 10:43 AM

Marlene Pearce

Thank you Mike for posting this information on our behalf. Years later we are still battling with people who are trying to lay claim to something they cannot prove and want recognition for. I do not understand why someone would want to lay claim to an achievement that is not theirs. Thank you for posting the truth and continuing to allow those of us trying to remain honourable, a venue to do so.

May 22, 2010 @ 10:44 AM

DJ Hip

What a tragic story, but what great info!!! Thanks!

I am a huge Leafs fan and also a huge Tragically Hip fan. The Hip wrote a great song about Bill.

Lyrics: "Bill Barilko disappeared that summer, he was on a fishing trip. The last goal he ever scored, won the Leafs the cup. They didn't win another until 1962, the year he was discovered. I stole this from a hockey card, I keeped tucked up under my fifty mission cap, I worked it in to look like that..."
(The fifty mission cap was a cloth cap with visor issued to U.S. Army officers in World War II)

Thanks again for all the great info! If you add the Facebook "like" button to your page here, I will spread the word on Facebook.

Cheers from Ontario Canada : )

January 30, 2011 @ 11:22 AM

tom sainthill

great story on a very tragic accident that got a young hockey player noteriety from all of Canada. Thanks to the
Tragically Hip for spreading
the famous story of a tragic
accident, which might lead to
a little comraderie between the Leafs and the Habs fans.
regards, Tom

November 22, 2011 @ 8:49 AM

Rolly Doucet

This story continues to fascinate me. It will always be a page in Canadian history.

January 23, 2013 @ 9:01 PM


“Bill Barilko disappeared that summer, he was on a fishing trip,” Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip sings in the tune “Fifty Mission Cap”. He continues: “The last goal he scored won the Leafs the Cup.”
Indeed, on April 21, 1951, the Maple Leafs defenceman, all of 24 years old, snapped a point shot over the right shoulder of Montreal Canadiens goalie Gerry McNeil. The overtime marker would be the highlight of Barilko’s career.
It had been a career filled with hockey in Hollywood, California, time spent in the penalty box and four Stanley Cups.
As Downie recalls further in song, “They didn’t win another till 1962, the year he was discovered”.
He is referencing the Leafs next Stanley Cup win after Barilko’s goal — the exact year Bill Barilko’s body would finally be found about 100 kilometres north of Cochrane, Ont.
He had been en route to Seal River, Que. with friend and dentist Henry Hudson. On August 27, 1951, Bashin’ Bill and Hudson were at Rupert House refueling their Fairchild 24 plane. When the two took off, the little plane was heavily loaded and laboured into the sky. Visibility on that day was 9.7 kilometres. However, weather prospects later that evening were bad, with wind velocity reaching 64 kilometres per hour.
After two days with no sign of the men, they were listed as missing. For months, and later years, concerned parties sought out the downed fuselage of the plane, but to no avail.
Military officials came in to help with the search, but left Rupert House in Sept. 24, 1951. Leafs owner Conn Smythe was criticized for his hands-off approach but he eventually offered a $10,000 reward for the recovery of Barilko.
During the time between his disappearance and subsequent discovery, Barilko’s mother never gave up hope, often times leaving herself open to any leads valid or not.
A Cree language broadcast was quoted as saying, “A mother’s heart is stronger than logic. This mother won’t rest until she knows just what happened to her son”.
Faye got her answer in May of 1962. Bush pilot Gary R. Fields was on a routine trip over the area. Not marking his flight path and thinking it was a known crash site, he thought nothing of it.
However, when speaking about the wreckage with locals, interest swelled and Ray Paterick, helicopter pilot Ron Boyd and engineer Phil Weston tried to retrace Fields’s flight path.
According to Kevin Shea’s book Barilko — Without A Trace, on June 6, Boyd and Weston would find the plane aground in a muskeg soil. The men walked through the mire to the plane to find all that was left of the bodies: two skeletons, a pocket watch and a belt buckle.
Only the belt buckle identified Barilko, as he had borrowed it from his brother Alex. Hudson’s wife said the pocket watch was similar to one he had purchased in Switzerland.
It was the conclusion to a story that has captured the curiosity of many a Canadian, as evident in musician Downie’s ode 40 years later.
Brian Baker is sports editor of the Town Crier group of community newspapers and Toronto Today and Vaughan Today magazines. Sponsored by The Canadian Experience and Maple Leaf Sports + Entertainment, “Canada’s Hockey Experience: The Sport of a Country” is a unique, 20-week online series on the history of hockey.

April 2, 2013 @ 10:51 PM

hot rod

barilko is kickass

March 24, 2017 @ 6:43 AM

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