Many people collect different and unique mementos; be it Royal Doulton figurines, car coins from Jell-O packages or stamps, the joy of collecting can be very rewarding.
Usually the rewards achieved are in the satisfaction of amassing numerous items, but for Doug McLatchy, it has become a lucrative business. Doug is a sports enthusiast, and quite an athlete himself, and has one of the largest collections of sports memorabilia anywhere.
Born in New Brunswick, at the end of WWII, this son of a property manager, grew up in Preston (now Cambridge), Ontario. At the young age of 14, Doug started working part time at a foundry, breaking down moulds and mixing sand. Attending high school during the day, his job was mostly evenings, prepping the foundry for the next day’s shift.
“It was great,” he recalled. “I was making $15 a week, and two years later, the day I turned 16, I was able to buy a car.” He paused. It was a ‘56 Chevy and it cost me $350,” he said, smiling.
After high school, Doug continued to work at the foundry, but the work was not for him. He decided to move to Toronto, and found employment at IBM. Being an excellent skater and hockey player, he went roller skating and one evening, met a girl, who a few years later, agreed to become his wife.
Doug’s career at IBM progressed quickly, and he became a technical trainer, travelling all over North America. “I loved the outskirts of Toronto, and when we visited North Durham, we fell in love with the area.” So much that they purchased a house, and have lived here ever since.
Doug played hockey, baseball, football and golf every chance he could get, and he was voted most valuable player two years in a row for his local touch football league. The day before I interviewed him, he played football with a bunch of ‘young fellas’ (as he put it).
For those of you who remember the Weekend Magazine in the Toronto Telegram, you may recall the fantastic photos of hockey players, taken by photographer, Louis Jacques. Doug collected the photos and had every one ever printed. He also collected similar pics by Toronto Star photographer, Harold Barclay, and when an opportunity to assist in cataloguing Barclay’s photos arose, Doug jumped at the chance.
Doug was a shrewd businessperson, and saw value in those old pics. He bought the original transparencies from both Jacques and Barclay, and became a source for reprints to many requests from all over the world.
It was only natural Doug expand his collection to include bubble gum cards from all sports, along with any sport memorabilia he was able to locate. He has a hockey dressing room, and partial hockey rink, in his basement, filled with amazing sports history.
“I heard about a part time position available at the Hockey Hall of Fame, and decided I would apply,” he explained. “I was so cocky, when I was in the interview I told them it was their lucky day, and they need look no further.” He chuckled as he reminisced.
“The person interviewing explained about a test they had, and passed a hockey picture to me, asking me to tell him who it was.” Doug laughed. “It was easy. I told him it was Herb Gardner, and he was stunned. I did not realize he had no idea who it was, and no one else interviewed knew either.
“I must have impressed him,” Doug continued, “because he handed me another 20 photos to identify and I got everyone,” he paused. “Needless to say, out of 58 applicants, I was hired on the spot.”
Doug took early retirement from IBM, as his memorabilia pastime was becoming a full time job. He was attending trade shows and exhibitions, trading, buying and selling, always making a profit.
When the Township of Scugog decided to establish a Sports Hall of Fame, Mayor Marilyn Pearce asked Doug to help set it up. It was a natural choice, as ‘Mr. Hockey’, a widely used nickname when referring to Doug, knew more than most people about all facets of the sporting world.
Doug, who made his home in Port Perry for the past several dozen years, is still very active in the sports memorabilia industry. He was involved with the NHL Alumni & the Toronto Maple leafs Alumni Team for 15 Years and also managed a team of hockey people to produce a CD called, The Warwick Encyclopaedia of Hockey’, which is based on his collection.
Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. His show, ‘The Jonathan van Bilsen Show,’ on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube, features many of the people included in this column.