Local Champions

Dryden is home to many local champions. These champions have been featured in our Dryden Leisure guide. To recommend someone to be featured or to submit your own local champion story, e-mail [email protected] or contact the Tourism Coordinator at (807) 223-2174.
Chris Pronger
Born and raised in Dryden, Ontario Chris started out playing in the Dryden Minor Hockey league and the Dryden High School Eagles Team. He began his NHL career in 1993 with the Hartford Whalers and was Hartford's first pick (number two overall) in the entry draft and subsequently traded to the St Louis Blues in 1995 for Brendan Shanahan. He combines powerful skating, a solid defense and offensive instincts for a great physical game. The first defenseman since the great Bobby Orr in 1972 to win the Hart Trophy (NHL Most Valuable Player award) and the Norris Trophy (top NHL defenseman) in the 1999-2000 season. Chris was traded from the St Louis Blues to the Edmonton Oilers in August 2005, and subsequently to the Anaheim Ducks in July 2006. In 2007, he played an important role in the Ducks run to the Stanley Cup. While he himself participated in the Finals for the second year in a row, the previous year being with the Edmonton Oilers. With the Stanley Cup victory, Chris became a member of the Triple Gold Club. Today he plays with the Philadelphia Flyers and continues to represent Canada in several international hockey tournaments. He was a member of the goal medal winning 2002 winter Olympic team and is currently in his fourth Olympics at the 2010 Vancouver games. Come out and welcome Chris home as he returns to be the Dryden 2010 Centennial Parade Marshall during our Homecoming week.

Chris Pronger on the ice as an Anaheim Duck

John Butts
John Butts has proven himself to be one of North America’s top walleye anglers. He competed in the In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail for 8 years and in 2005 was named champion. He has been fishing in the area his entire life and has yet to find a good enough reason to give up the lifestyle. He now uses his lifelong fishing and hunting experience to run a guiding business that operates from Dryden. He prides himself in finding fish and ensuring his clients have a great day on the water or while hunting our land for our famous Dryden bucks.

Brad Woodworth
Born and raised in Dryden, Brad has deep roots to the community with involvement in many organizations and committees. Learning to wind surf and sail on various lakes in the area during his high school years, Brad developed a great passion for the elements, especially the wind. With success at various windsurfing regattas in the Midwest USA over the years Brad entered a Canadian National Championship in '04 and to his surprise placed 2nd. It was just two years later in Kingston on Lake Ontario, again at the Canadian Championship she won a gold medal. Brad more recently placed 4th at the US National Windsurfing Championships in '08.His success has given him the urge to share his passion and knowledge of the sport to others. Dryden and the surrounding communities can now benefit from the Northwest Ontario Windsurfing Club who help teach people how to windsurf while enjoying the outdoors. His drive and energy has brought the Canadian Masters Windsurfing Championships to Dryden in 2010. This national level event will without a doubt highlight Dryden and North Western Ontario as an outdoor playground, and continue in his goals to showcase the area as to what we have to offer. 

Joel Cates
Joel Cates was born and raised in Vermilion Bay, Ontario. He took his first snowmobile ride at the early age of 4 and by the age of 16 he had won his first race, which was also the first race that he had ever entered. As the area offers many great places to ride he spends most of his time on his sled, racing moto-x during the summer and sno-x during the winter. His passion for sno-x has certainly paid off, winning the Rookie of the Year title his first season out as well as season championships in the sport class, semi pro class and pro class. In early 2006 he switched from racing sno-x to freestyle sno-x and was signed on to a major team. He has since competed at the national level and continues to ride more than ever.

Earl Rhymer
Earl Rhymer, born in Rivers, Manitoba in 1968, grew up in Waldhof and Vermilion Bay, Ontario. He began racing snocross in the US in 1995 and in 1997 he was named the Semi Pro US National Champion in the 440 and 600 classes. After graduating to the professional level, in 2003 he managed a Pro Open National win in Duluth. In 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008 he was named the Over 35 National Champion and in 2000, 2001 and 2002 he was named Canadian Snocross Champion. He began racing motocross in 1984, garnering 10 Manitoba Region Pro titles with the highlight being 1998 CMA 125 Canadian National Champion. He now lives in Waldhof with his wife Deha and their 3 children and works at his parents’ family business managing NewTech Transportation in Ear Falls, Ontario.

Mark Wherrett
Born and raised in Dryden, Mark has shown his drive to be a champion from a young age. During high school years he was involved in hockey, lifeguarding, basketball, football, curling and golf. Continuing to show the world that his champion sport spirit lives on, Mark joined the "Rolling Thunder” Provincial wheelchair basketball team in Winnipeg Manitoba for an exciting 18 years. The urge to move back to Dryden hit in 2000. In 2007 he joined wheelchair curling with his Team mate Wayne and 3 all stars from Thunder Bay placing 6th in the 2008 Nationals. In 2009 with a Dryden Team of their own, they beat out two Thunder Bay teams allowing them to represent Northwest Ontario. In 2009 Halifax Nationals they brought home the John McCrae trophy for best team in Ontario. They lost the bronze metal to Manitoba in the Nationals on the wire with the last rock.  Mark and his team mates continue to hone their skills in Dryden every week, with 6 yearly bonspiels across the country. Keep your eye on these rising champions next February in Kenora where they will compete to represent Northwest Ontario for the Nationals in Kelowna BC. Not only does Mark enjoy curling he is also passionate about making it possible for everyone of all ages and abilities to participate.

Gordon Pollard
Gordon has shown his champion colors in his chosen field for many years.  Gordon was a natural fit from the age of 9 where he started out as a young boy helping with the whitefish nets, filleting and other dock boy tasks.  Like a cherry topping that perfect Sundae, he received a certificate of appreciation from the White House Communications Agency for his hospitality and talent in guiding.  Deer hunting, fishing, nature and so much more, Gordon has delighted his guests and awed them with the backdrop of Northwest Ontario.  Tailoring his guiding services to the needs of his guests combined with his talent and passion is why over and over again his guests return.  Living and working on Eagle Lake and beyond for many years, Gordon is a champion in wildlife viewing, fishing, and nature.  When asked to take a group out for a bird watching study they quickly learned they picked the right person to take them when he taught the group a thing or two about the area.  A local champion in service among the champion lakes and nature of Northwest Ontario right her in our own backyard!  "It is difficult at best, and impossible to most, to constantly, day after day, month after month, put people on fish.  Gordon does this, seemingly without effort." - guest comment



Brittany Norris
From the time she could walk Brittany’s love for traditional native dancing started with a huge positive influence from her family.   As she got older she started out at small powwows in places like Manitoba, Nelson House, and Toronto.   Brittany’s love for her dancing has grown over the years and she’s now learned to make her own regalia and beadwork.   She is the senior princess in her community where she influences youth by teaching traditional dance and beading which encourages them to remember their culture.  When Brittany saw the application for the Winter Olympic dancing she was a hesitant to apply as not much information was provided.  With a little encouragement from her Aunt Donna she put in her application.   To her delight she was chosen from 10,000 applicants to become one of 300 youth dancers.   With excitement and a little insecurity she made the trek to Vancouver.  She spent 16 days rehearsing with 300 other participants just like her from all over Canada.   The days were long and very exhausting spending 8 to 12 hours each day rehearsing and eating on the run, but it was all worth it.   She went from peak to peak on Whistler Mountain, met the Governor General, the Canadian bob sled team, as well as Olympians from many other countries.   "It was an amazing experience that no words can describe” says Brittany.   It was her passion and excitement for her traditions and culture that made her the perfect choice for this diverse and amazing display of Canadian culture.  This experience will also help her obtain her goal of participating in one of the world’s largest powwows in Albuquerque, New Mexico.