JOSEPH M. BREEN
Inducted in 1975
Grey Cup - University of Toronto Blues
Toronto Parkdale Canoe Club, captain 1922-23
Toronto Argonauts, captain 1924
Coach, University of Western Ontario
Inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame
Joe Breen knew football inside and out. Throughout his 30-year involvement with the game, he saw it from the perspective of a player, coach, and referee. This all-round football experience allowed him to enjoy a number of glorious victories, to pass along his love and knowledge of the game to others, and to earn a place in the game's highest ranks. While studying to be a civil engineer, Breen began his football career with the University of Toronto Blues in 1914. His varsity playing days as well as his education, however, were interrupted with the onset of World War I. Breen served overseas with the Canadian Engineers from 1916-19, then returned to captain his team to a Grey Cup victory over the Toronto Argonauts in 1920. Breen played with the Toronto Parkdale Canoe Club from 1921-23, assuming the position of captain in 1922. He was known not only as a spectacular player but also as a man of principle who once refused to let the famous Lionel Conacher play with his team during the playoffs. Legend he might have been, but Conacher did not play with the Parkdale Canoe club during the regular season, and Breen believed there was no place for a "ringer" on his team. A fine two-way half-back, Breen was a star player with the Toronto Argonauts before retiring from the field in 1925. He went on to coach the University of Western Ontario from 1929-34, leading his team to an Intercollegiate title in 1931. From 1935-40, Breen turned his talents towards refereeing in the pre-CFL Big Four League. All the while, he was climbing the corporate ladder at Canada Cement, eventually becoming president and general manager in 1949. He remained involved in the football world, however, as chairman of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame selection committee from 1963 until his death in 1978. Breen earned this position after being honoured as one of its first inductees.