The secret is out. BC and especially Vancouver are now internationally known destinations for sport.
And you can make the argument that few British Columbians are prouder of this fact than Ron Toigo. Again and again Ron has worked to bring major international events to BC showcasing all our province has to offer, while also quietly investing in the development of future community leaders here at home.
Born in Powell River, where his dad Peter played soccer with the older brothers of fellow 2019 inductee Roy Gerela, Ron grew up in Tsawwassen and watched his father build a business empire from the ground up. Always interested in sport, Ron invested in the Tri City Americans in the Western Hockey League, owning and operating the team from 1991 to 2000.
With partners Gordie Howe and Pat Quinn, in 2001 Ron was granted a new WHLfranchise and for nearly two decades has been the Vancouver Giants majority owner and president. “I figured with Pat and Gordie as my partners, I liked my chances of success,” said Ron. “Gordie was just an amazing ambassador and Pat was just one of the most amazing guys, a great influence on all of us.” Assembled by Ron, the Giants featured one of the most impressive ownership groups in BC history: Howe, Quinn, Michael and Lewis Buble, Bruce Allen, Sultan Thiara, and Milan Ilich.
Remarkably, in just the team’s fifth season, the Giants won the Memorial Cup on home ice in front of 16,000 screaming fans at the Pacific Coliseum. As chair of the 2007 organizing committee—the first Memorial Cup held in Vancouver in thirty years—many credited Ron with producing the most successful Memorial Cup tournament ever.
At the same time, the Giants won five-straight BC Division titles from 2006-10 and the 2006 WHL championship. Today, they remain one of the model franchises in the Canadian Hockey League, continually developing standout individuals like Brendan Gallagher, Milan Lucic, and Craig Cunningham.
“I really love our players and the evolution of them from age 16 as boys until they leave at 20 as young men,” said Ron. “We like to think they all leave to become good community citizens.”
In 2006, Ron served as tournament chair of the World Jr Hockey Championships held in Vancouver, Kelowna, and Kamloops, which smashed revenue records and was considered the most successful World Jr event ever held to that point. Ron and his team followed the same blueprint in 2019 as Vancouver-Victoria hosted the World Juniors and again produced one of the best tournaments in its history.
He also served as a director for the 2009 World Police and Fire Games held in Burnaby and as a governor and member of the executive committee for the Western Hockey League.
Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.