The Chatham Sports Hall of Fame was conceived by a group of local sports enthusiasts who believe in preserving Chatham’s rich sports history.
The Chatham Sports Hall of Fame includes area high schools and all sports. Honoured Members are not only individual athletes, teams and coaches, but anyone who has made a significant contribution to sports in Chatham.
The Chatham Sports Hall of Fame was originally founded in 1982 by the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 628. In 1984, the first three Honoured Members, Keith Crummer, Ferguson Jenkins, and Joe Zimmer, were inducted and in 1986, Lloyd Davidson, Smoke Reynolds, and Sandra Tewkesbury also became Honoured Members. For the next twelve years the Hall was not active.
In 1998, the Hall of Fame was resurrected by a committee of interested citizens representing the Branch 628 Legion and the WISH Centre. In late 1998, a Board of Directors was established to run the affairs of the Chatham Sports Hall of Fame. The objectives of the Hall are to honour the members of the community for their contribution to sports and to preserve the history of sport in Chatham. Further to that, the Board of Directors also set out to involve the general public in the nomination, selection, and induction process so that it is a total community project.
The Board of Directors consists of eleven members. Originally, four members were from the Branch 628 Legion, four from the WISH Centre, and three from the voting membership. In 2015, because of a lack of volunteers, the WISH Centre withdrew from the Hall’s Board of Directors leaving four Legion members and seven at large members. Also in 2015, Chatham’s two Legion Branches amalgamated and formed Branch 642.
In the spring of 1999, the first voting took place to induct four new members into the Hall and in the fall of that year, the first annual dinner and induction ceremony was held at the WISH Centre with Fergie Jenkins, who at that time was the only living Honoured Member of the Hall of Fame, as the guest speaker. At that ceremony, Bill Atkinson (Athlete – Modern), Ches Dawson (Athlete – Old-timer), Archie Stirling (Builder), and the 1959-60 Chatham Senior Maroons (Team) were inducted.
Originally the Hall of Fame was housed at the WISH Centre but in 2012, because of a lack of space at the Centre, the Hall’s plaques and display cases were moved to the Chatham Memorial Arena where it is open to the public free of charge during regular business hours of the Arena. As of 2020 there are 109 plaques representing the Honoured Members and Teams along with displays of memorabilia.