Leslie & Kay Dunsdon

Leslie and Kay Dunsdon Les Dunsdon's love of archery began as a small boy in Middleport. The family lived in Middleport on the Grand River across from the Six Nations Reserve and his parents had an Indian friend make a bow and arrows for him for Christmas one year.

He and Kay, met in school. She trained as a nurse in Hamilton, and after graduation they were married. Shortly after they were married, they were visiting his sister in Rochester New York. While there he saw a sporting goods store with bows and arrows in the window. He couldn't resist and bought several arrows and a book on making archery equipment. Once back home, with the guidance of a carpenter friend, he began making bows from hickory staves and Kay making arrows from the samples they had bought. Together they outfitted several friends and in 1938 they and about 10 other archers formed the first Brantford Archery Club – The Brant Bowmen. In 1939 the Hunting and Field Archers of Ontario was established to coordinate all the known archery clubs, and the Brant Bowmen attended their first tournament in Kleinburg that year.

War was declared in 1939. Les was turned down for military service due to an ulcer, but he and the other club members left behind, put on archer demonstrations and gave instructions at the army and air force bases in the Brantford area. Les and Kay opened a commercial archery range across the highway from #20 Army Camp on Colborne Street. They had a small booth and sold hot dogs and hamburgers and pop and the range had lighted targets where they instructed archery or just had fun. Their little archery business was growing as well, and they started selling to stores and schools and also to the government for recreation for trainees. One of their first large orders was from the Stratford Shakespearean Festival.

After the war ended, archery boomed, and Les Dunsdon Archery became their full time career. It operated in the basement of their home on Hamilton Avenue, but in 1945 they had a shop built in the back of their property. The bow making was done there and the arrows bow finishing and packaging continued in the basement.

The first annual Indian John Archery tournament was in 1946. It became THE tournament to attend because of the multitude of trophies, prizes and good fellowship. The Brant Bowmen's field course was on an acreage in Onondaga and it became a mecca for archers. Crowds of up to 250 would gather from Ontario and adjacent American States to take part in the two day tournament. Les was the president of the Brant Bowmen Club for many years and held executive office in both the Hunting and Field Archers of Ontario and the Canadian Archery Association.

The business and the Archery club continued to grow during the late 50's and early 60's and although busy they still had time to shoot archery as a family. Les and Kay and two of their daughters, Carole and Joan shot regularly and won their share of tournaments. Les won the Hunting section of the Ontario competition twice, and the same title in the Canadian Championships. Kay was Ontario Champion one and runner up several times. She was a sectional winner int the National Field Archers Association Championships in Michigan. Both Carole and Joan won Junior Ontario and Canadian Titles. Mary didn't become an archer, but attended the tournaments with the rest of the family.

Archery for the Dunsdon family was not just a pastime, it was a lifestyle. As a family they travelled all over Ontario to tournaments where they would spend weekends with other archers and their families. Les Dunsdon was not only a manufacturer for the sport, but one of the main contributors in its development in Ontario from its inception until his retirement in 1965.

Among his many achievements, Les won the Canadian Plastics Achievement Award for the process he developed for making fibreglass bows. Also in 1986, the Canadian Field Archers Association presented Les and award for outstanding contributions in Field Archery as a competitor, builder, manufacturer and professional. On the 50th anniversary of the National Field Archers Association annual tournament, in1995 Les was honoured as one of the original competitors. Kay received a recognition award from the Province of Ontario for her 1968 Provincial Champion win, signed by Premier Robarts.

Les and Kay were inducted into the Gretzky Sports Hall of Recognition in 1996 for their efforts to developing and growing the sport. Imagine if we'd had The Hunger Games then!