Inducted October 15, 1977

John M. Tobin - Builder

Jack Tobin had the rare ability to bring to any event a sense of occasion in his role as hockeyist, oarsman, referee, coxswain and broadcaster. He holds a unique position in the realms of sport in Newfoundland for having served for fifty years in a secretarial capacity with the Newfoundland Hockey league. It is a record of service unrivalled anywhere in the sports sphere. John M. Tobin was born in St. John’s and educated at both St. Bonaventure’s College, St. John’s and St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish. At the latter institution he acquired proficiency as a hockeyist and on his return to Newfoundland made effective use of his artistry as a skater and stick handler. He first allied himself with the Crescents hockey team in the early 1900’s and remained with them until they won the Boyle trophy in 1910. Still later he joined the Terra Nova hockey team and in his capacity as captain guided them to championships in 1916 and 1919. Following an active hockey career Jack volunteered his services as referee and served as arbiter in both the inter-collegiate and senior hockey leagues. Meanwhile he was simultaneously performing his duties as secretary of the Newfoundland Hockey Association. In his younger days, Jack Tobin was an oarsman of note and at our annual Regatta there was, invariably, a Tobin crew in the Amateur race with Jack himself on stroke oar. Later in life he took over the coxswain’s role and steered many crews to victory on Quidi Vidi Lake. A further display of his versatility as a sportsman occurred in 1934 when as coach and manager he moulded a group of Holy Cross hockeyists into a team of Championship calibre winning the Boyle trophy that year. John M. Tobin was one of our first radio broadcasters to effectively publicize hockey outside of St. John’s through the medium of radio. His broadcasts of hockey games throughout the later Thirties and early Forties under the title ‘Over the Blue Line with Tobin’ had exceptional popular appeal. Through his folksy delivery Tobin established a rapport with his listeners which few sportcasters have been privileged to enjoy. The expressions he employed in describing players, individual abilities and the games themselves have become a popular cant, and have passed into the language. For many years Jack Tobin was a member of the B.I.S. executive and played an active role in that Society’s involvement with sport. Jack was elected to the Municipal Council and, as well, served as a member of the House of Assembly representing St. John’s East. The accolade which best and affectionately describes Jack Tobin is to say that he was one of that delightful and fast-fading breed ‘a typical St. John’s sports character’.


In 1990, John M. Tobin was inducted into The Royal St. John’s Regatta Hall of Fame.