Memorable Manitobans: William Alexander “Bill” Alldritt (1881-1933)
Veteran, basketball coach.
Born at London, England on 18 April 1881, son of Joseph Alldritt (c1848-1896) and Ann Jeffries (1851-1913), the family emigrated to Canada in 1886 and settled in Winnipeg. In 1901 he enlisted to serve as a member of the South African Constabulary during the second Boer War and was discharged with exemplary conduct in 1904. Upon his return to Canada he was employed by the YMCA at Revelstoke, British Columbia where he led the Alpine Club in climbs to peaks in the Rocky and Selkirk Mountains. In 1910 his YMCA duties brought him back to Winnipeg where he notably organized the Toilers Basketball Club. In 1912, he became Physical Director at the Selkirk Avenue branch of the Winnipeg YMCA.
At the outbreak of the First World War, he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and, as a member of the 8th Battalion (90th Winnipeg Rifles - “The Little Black Devils”), he was captured at Ypres in 1915. Initially reported as being killed in action, he spent the rest of the war in German captivity. He attempted escape at least four times and was subjected to beatings and progressively harsher conditions, eventually being forced into working hard labour in a salt mine. He returned to Canada in the summer of 1919 and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in 1920, in recognition of his wartime efforts.
On 9 June 1920, he married Agnes Kennedy at Chemainus, British Columbia. Returning to Winnipeg, he resumed his duties at the YMCA. Under his renewed guidance, the Toilers won the provincial basketball championship 14 times in 15 years and the Canadian championship in 1926, 1927, and 1932.
He died at Winnipeg on 26 February 1933 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery, leaving behind Agnes and three children: Marjorie Alldritt Turner (age 13), Robert Alldritt (age 8), and David Alldritt (18 months). In 1983, he was an inaugural inductee to the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame for his role as a builder of the sport in Manitoba.
Discharge papers, South African Constabulary, 26 February 1904.
1901 and 1906 Canada censes, Automated Genealogy.
Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.
Death registrations [Joseph Alldritt, Ann Alldritt], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Marriage registration, British Columbia Vital Statistics.
“The story of the Toilers,” Winnipeg Free Press, 30 October 1965, page 57.
“‘Godfather’ in new Hall,” Winnipeg Free Press, 8 April 1983, page 62.
Silent Battle: Canadian Prisoners of War in Germany, 1914-1919 by Desmond Morton, Lester Publishing, 1992, page 86.
At the Sharp End: Canadians Fighting the Great War 1914-1916 by Tim Cook, Viking Canada, 2007, page 155.
We thank Danielle Giroux and Robert Alldritt for providing information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 22 September 2015
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