Charles Uksila, born in Calumet (1887-1964) was the first
American born hockey player to participate in the Stanley Cup playoffs,
while playing for
the Portland, Oregon 1915-16 PCHL team.
Charles played hockey locally with the CLK teams from 1907-1911. He
then played pro hockey with Detroit, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver from
1913-1920. As a youth, he was a player on both the 1910 and 1911
local Mohawk senior
teams which won the Copper Country Senior Championship in those two years. In
1917-18 he played with the Portland Rosebuds (the Rosebuds later moved to
Chicago to become the Blackhawks) including the 1916 Pacific Coast HA All
Stars games. In
1918-19, Charlie played with the
Vancouver Millionaires in the Pacific Coast Hockey League with Cyclone
Taylor who had played here 2 seasons on the Portage Lake team (1905 & 06).
On March 17, 1916, the Portland, Oregon PCHL team made
up of 9 players including Uksila, stopped off here in Houghton to play an exhibition
game in the Amphidrome against a team of Northern Michigan All Stars. The
game ended in a 6-7 loss for the local All Stars. The Portland team left that night for
Canada where they played a series of games against Montreal for the Stanley
Cup; making Charles Uksila the first American born hockey player to
participate in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Charles later excelled
in speed skating and skate dancing all across the Western United States and Canada.
There were 14 children in the Uksila family, many of Charles siblings were
performers. Charles and his sister, Lenna (Lena) Uksila (1895-1956), appeared in
solo and duo acts throughout the US and abroad. They had a contract for 14
weeks in Australia in 1923, where they performed; part of the contract was for
Charles to coach a hockey team. After his sister married in Australia,
Charles teamed with his wife, Dorothy Blunt Uksila aka Vida (1899-1961), in figure skating acts, appearing at
fairs and in night clubs on indoor ice rinks called "tanks". During that time, Charles also refereed National
Hockey League games. Brother Robert Uksila (born 1902) was also a hockey
player then he became a performing skate dancer with his wife Gretel.
Charles was one of the skating sensations that opened the first ever
performance at the new
Palais de Glace in Hollywood opening on February 10, 1925 on Melrose
Avenue at Vermont Avenue, and attended by "thousands of ardent devotees in
gala attire" who turned out for the first ice rink in Southern
California.... After some speeches, there were performances by "Miss
Margot," who did her "dizzy gyrations," Harley Davidson, Jack Fusick, Hazel
Deane, George Brian, Carolyn Trask, Charlie Uksila, Robert Mann and
Emily Brown, "all expert exponents of the art of ice skating...."
|UP Sports Hall of Fame
Photos courtesy of Dana Uksila Waters.
Charles was inducted into Michigan's
Upper Peninsula Sports
Hall of Fame in 1974.
Charles would put on Sunday afternoon
matinee performances at the Mohawk Glaciadom; old-timers remembered Uksila
barrel-leaping on his ice skates. "He put on a good
show with his long bladed skates. The kids called them racing skates; they
always added "but they ain't no good for hockey tho!!" Another story of this "dare
devil" said he drew quite a crowd as they watched him do head stands on
one of the highest local mine shafts.