Induction Year: 2023
Ronnie Paterson’s love for hockey started when he was six watching the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens on the TV at home in Richmond.
His level of passion elevated and he played a lot of ball hockey. As he got older, he played minor hockey in Richmond and then four seasons of Junior ‘A’ hockey for his hometown Richmond Sockeyes. From there he played for the UBC Thunderbirds and Canada’s men’s Olympic team in 1980.
The owner of the Pacific Junior Hockey League’s White Rock Whalers credits his mother, Jean Paterson, for his early success.
“The sacrifice my mother made to allow me to play the game is Hall of Fame worthy for her,” said Paterson.
A desire to become a teacher-led Paterson to go to UBC, where he was fortunate enough to make the team there his first year. During his four years, he was an All-Star for three of the four years and also was an All-Canadian. It was his time with the Thunderbirds that allowed him to be noticed by the Canadian Olympic program run by Father David Bauer. Bauer brought the program back after it had been disbanded in 1964.
“It was all amateurs – he focused on both collegiate players that were playing at an elite level and some of the top juniors across the country,” said Paterson, who spent a year and a half in Calgary with the program as one of Canada’s three goalies. “We did a lot of travelling and it was a tremendous experience as Father David Bauer really was accountable for allowing us to not only excel on the ice, and develop our skills further, but also focus on life skills.”
That Canadian roster featured players that went on to the NHL such as captain Randy Gregg, Glenn Anderson, Jim Nill and Paul MacLean among others. Paterson remains friends with all his teammates.
Paterson has been involved in B.C. hockey in a variety of ways as he coached at the minor level before he had children, then coached his sons Troy and Tyler. He has also been involved at the junior level, as he was part of the ownership group for the B.C. Hockey League’s Surrey Eagles then went on to be one of the owners of the PJHL Richmond Sockeye’s and have now owned the Whalers for the last five years.
For Paterson, it’s about being involved in the game at the executive level.
“It’s a chance to develop programs where our respective communities could continue to embrace and share my overall philosophy on life skills and what the game of hockey provided me,” he said. “I wanted to give everybody in our community a chance to experience the same situation. It has been inspirational!
Paterson finds it rewarding to have an impact on players as he sees the PJHL organizations giving its players a chance they might not otherwise get. He enjoys seeing them grow and develop in the PJH and their respective communities.
“We’ve had a number of kids go through our program and go onto Junior ‘A’ and then to college. We have a real cross-section of skill and our league has become extremely competitive,” said Paterson.
His involvement in the game has been about giving back and making a difference because, to Paterson, hockey is profoundly special.
Paterson is also an owner of the West Coast Hockey Prep Camp in Port Alberni.