Called “Mr. Everything” by some for his varied sporting efforts and “Dr. Bob” by his UBC students, with induction into the BCSHFM builder category, perhaps the new nickname should be “Bob the Builder.” Quite simply, as one of BC sport’s most prominent movers and shakers from the 1960s to the early 1990s, the man defined the ‘builder’ term touching more sporting individuals, events, and organizations in more capacities than possibly any other British Columbian in that time.
Son of a coal miner in sports-mad Nanaimo, Hindmarch’s lifelong love of sport began as a youngster who couldn’t get enough of whatever sport was in season—swimming, track and field, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, baseball, among others. Next up was university at UBC, where Hindmarch thrived, marking the beginning of over 40 years with the venerable institution. By his senior year in 1953, Hindmarch was co-captain of both the UBC football—with future CFL great Cal Murphy—and baseball teams, while also excelling at basketball. For his efforts, he was awarded the Bobby Gaul Award as UBC’s outstanding athlete.
After coaching football at the Duke of Connaught High School in New Westminster, Hindmarch returned to UBC in 1955 to help coach Frank Gnup with the Thunderbird football team. In the ensuing ten years, he also helped coach UBC’s basketball and baseball teams, while also serving as director of the intramural program and teaching as an assistant professor of Physical Education. Later, Hindmarch would serve as UBC Athletic Director from 1980-92, raising the Thunderbird athletic program to the strongest in the country.
While serving as general manager and assistant coach of the newly-created Canadian national hockey team based out of UBC, Hindmarch became friends and contemporaries with two near-mythic figures in international hockey—Father David Bauer, coach and creator of the Canadian national team, who hired Hindmarch, and Anatoli Tarasov, the great Russian hockey czar and intellectual. At the 1964 Winter Olympics, Bauer and Hindmarch led the Canadian contingent to solid second place finish, tied with Sweden and Czechoslovakia, but a controversial tiebreaker ruling dropped the Canadians to a disappointing fourth.
Following the Olympics, Hindmarch began a stint as the most successful UBC hockey coach ever, recording a remarkable 214 victories in twelve seasons—a mark that will likely never be equalled. At the same time, Hindmarch established friendly university sports exchanges with universities in Asia and Europe that would continue for over thirty years. Some of these international exchanges, particularly to China, were the first of their kind. On one exchange, northern Chinese spectators clambered to get a first glimpse of Canadians and their unique frozen game; on another, 48,000 watched a practice.
For sixteen years, Hindmarch served as vice-president of the Canadian Olympic Association and acted as chef de mission of the Canadian team at the 1984 Sarejevo Winter Olympics. He organized a number of unsuccessful Vancouver Olympic bids, had a hand in Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion World Tour, and helped bring the Vancouver Grizzlies to Vancouver, while also serving as president, chair, or director of innumerable sporting organizations and events. The impressive list goes on and on.
Whether laying the foundation for future sporting opportunities or binding one more relationship between sports-minded individuals, Hindmarch has always been about building through sport. While the new nickname may not stick, the legacy he has left behind most certainly will.
Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.
Hindmarch is also inducted in the UBC Sports Hall of Fame. For his UBC biography, please visit www.ubcsportshalloffame.com