Sunday, April 4, 2010

Morley Bruce

Morley Bruce, born in North Gower, was another hometown hero amongst the original Ottawa Senators.

Bruce, a center, had starred as a junior with New Edinburgh before joining the Senators for the NHL's inaugural season in 1917-18. He was identified as one of the best players to come out of the Ottawa City League. His brother Bower was also a noted city league star, although he would ultimately take a civil servant's job and pass on any hockey opportunities.

Bruce's season was interrupted just 7 scoreless games in, as he signed up for service with the army in World War I. He would miss the entire 1918-19 season too.

He returned from military duty and rejoined the Sens in 1919. He played the next three seasons with the Senators, including in 1920-21 when the Senators won the Stanley Cup. He seems to have left the game after the 1921-22 season.

I do not know a whole lot about what type of hockey player Morley Bruce was, although his statistics suggest he was a reservist who was sent in on spot duty to allow the stars to rest. One newspaper source suggested he was specifically Frank Nighbor's sub. He played in 71 career NHL games, scoring 8 goals and 11 points. He also participated in 3 Stanley Cup games.

But I do know he left the ice and jumped into the fire, serving as an Ottawa fireman until 1953. For 25 of those years he was the fire department's assistant secretary, originally serving in that capacity to another hockey star-turned-fireman, Alex Connell. Bruce, by then an avid curler and lawn bowler, later served with the fire prevention bureau in the last 7 years with the force. Upon retirement from the department he took a clerk's job at Higman's Hardware Store on Wellington Street until his death.

He died in 1959, at the age of 65, "after a brief illness." His wife, Ida, lived on until 1996, dying at the age of 98! Both rest at Norway Bay Cemetary in Quebec.


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