BYRNELL, Wes

From Bill Oliver

 

Wes at home in Victoria
in his 80th year.

 

You Tube Video with Wes Byrnell  June 2012

 

Wesley Edward Byrnell was born 19 Aug 1925 in British Columbia, the youngest of three children.  As a lad, Wes was always active, very athletic and venturesome and so he joined the Navy (RCNVR - # V80658) during the tail end of the war in 1944 at the tender age of seventeen . He was promptly shipped out to London, ON to the Pilot Selection Unit. The ending of WW II changed any plans Wes had of becoming a Pilot for the Navy. 

Following the end of the war, Wes returned to Vancouver with the intent of becoming a YMCA Instructor. At this time he began his boxing career, which saw him win 136 amateur bouts including the Golden Gloves, Diamond Belt, Silver and Bronze Awards and numerous RCAF and Military Boxing Championships.

He retired from the ring with an undefeated record which when all is said and done is something very few athletes can say and especially boxers.

He rejoined the Canadian Forces in 1952 but this time it was the RCAF and he was sent to Aylmer, ON, where he became a Recreation Specialist (Rec Spec). Following the Unification of the Canadian Forces his air force Rec Spec trade became known as Physical Fitness and Recreation Instructor (PERI) Branch.

During the course of his military career, Wes, became very interested and proficient as an Athletic Sports Therapist. An occupation he was to pursue and perfect long after his release from the CF in 1977. He was recognized in his prime as a pioneer in this field and for a number of years was one of the very best and most highly respected Sports Therapist in Canada.

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens pursued him along with other professional teams to join their staffs. He also worked with a host of amateur teams such as the Victoria Shamrocks Senior & Junior, Victoria Cougars in their heyday and many other teams .He was selected as the Therapist for the 1975 Pan Am Canadian Soccer Team, and the 1976 Olympic Team (which he was unable to fulfill because of an illness to his beloved wife Doreen) and the 1980 World Cup Team.

Wes received the Canadian Order of Merit in 1976 was selected as B.C. Sportsman of the Year in 1981 and selected into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.He officially retired from the Canadian Forces as a Master Warrant Officer in 1977 while at RRMC but continued his career as a Sports Therapist full time until 2001. Presently, he is a part time consultant for a number of the amateur athletic teams in the city of Victoria where he still resides with his second wife Luella.

Wes has been an accomplished drummer most of his life, he played with a number of the better well-known Canadian Bands during the big band era and during the past year played with the Navy Veterans Band in Halifax to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE -DAY).  

Wes took off his CF uniform in 1977 but stayed on the Royal Roads staff as the Athletic Therapist until around 1982.  He started at the college in 1974.  So, Cadets from about eight entry years   had the opportunity to, meet, interact, and undoubtedly be treated at one time or another from this highly skilled and professional therapist. There is no doubt that MWO Wes Byrnell had a profound positive influence on a number of Rodents, in particular those cadets who toiled on the sports fields in and around Victoria and Royal Roads.  Wes will be 80 years old this Aug 19th.(2005)  He does not use a computer. 

 

Doing the work he loved.

 

As mentioned he and Luella are slowly recovering from the serious car accident. For those interested his address is:  307 – 1180 Esquimalt Rd, Victoria BC  V9A  3NA.  

The following is the inscription on his Hall of Fame plaque in Victoria:

Wes Byrnell is a name synonymous with sports therapy, not only in Victoria but also across the country. He was never afraid to try new ideas and was among the best in the business.

He became a recreation instructor in the Canadian military and in 1974 transferred to Royal Roads Military College as its new physical education and recreation instructor. What a stroke of luck for Victoria sporting teams to have his talent and expertise in their dressing rooms. Wes became heavily involved as trainer with the McDonalds junior lacrosse team, Cougars major-junior hockey team, Shamrocks Lacrosse and London Boxing Clubs. He also worked with local recreation centres.

Wes was chosen as the trainer for the Canadian national soccer team competing in the 1975 Pan-American Games in Mexico City and for the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics. He declined the latter because of family commitments but came back with the national side in the 1980s for some exciting World Cup and Olympic qualifying matches.

The Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame has honoured  Wes and more than 100 inductees. Worthy individuals and teams are nominated by a committee of the Board, which then votes with a three quarters approval required for induction. The successful inductees are presented to the public at an annual awards ceremony