Family photograph

Frederick James Heather (1888-1976) was born in Godalming on the 27th January 1888, the son of William and Sarah Ann Heather, née Freeman. He emigrated to Canada in 1921, where he achieved fame as a cricketer.

His father, William, born in Loxwood, Sussex, was a bricklayer, and his grandfather, Elijah Heather, married Mary Brumham, and all are buried in Nightingale Road Cemetery. Elijah Heather moved to Farncombe c.1871 where he was listed as a car man. The 1891 census shows Frederick James and his parents living in Farncombe Street and by 1901 they had moved to Nightingale Road, after the death of his father in 1896, where his widowed mother and two sisters worked as laundresses. Family history records that as a boy he put up score tins for the Broadwater Cricket Club. In 1916 he played cricket and captained a team in Cobham and during the war was a grinder producing war materials.

After emigrating to Canada in 1921 he continued to play cricket competitively and was a member of the St George’s Cricket Club that won the Toronto City Championship in 1922. In Canada he worked for the Bell Telephone Company of Canada for 34 years, and played for the Bell Telephone Cricket Club.

Upon retiring as a player he embarked on a career as a Canadian cricket umpire in Toronto in the late 1920s. In 1931 he was instrumental in starting a junior cricket league in Toronto, resulting in the formation of 18 junior cricket clubs. His first international match, for a Canadian team in a decade, was in 1931. In 1932 he umpired for Eastern Canada versus Australia for the ‘Good Will Tour’, touring North America with Don Bradman and Vic Richardson, setting an attendance record of an estimated 8,000 cricket fans for the sport of cricket in Toronto. He was the principal and professor of a Cricket Umpire’s School in the 1930s and 1940s at Trinity College. He umpired in the England MCC tours in 1937, 1951 and 1959, the 1951 marking the first time a first class status match was held in Canada. As of 12th August 1961 he had umpired in 1002 consecutive matches without missing a game, and on his retirement in 1967 was the longest serving umpire in Canada. In 1967 the High Commissioner for Canada requested the honour of his company to attend the ceremony in Westminster Abbey to commemorate Canada’s Centennial Year of the Canadian Confederation. He was made the first Life Member of the Toronto Cricket Umpire’s Association on the 12th January 1970.

In 2009 he was accepted for the Jack Kyle Development Award for his lifetime contributions to the game of cricket in Canada. This award is made from time to time by the Canadian Cricket Association to person(s) for Outstanding Achievement which fostered the growth and development of cricket in Canada, and he is only the ninth person to be awarded this honour from Cricket Canada. In 2010 Heather was inducted into the US Cricket Hall of Fame as the first recipient of the Golden Age Award to recognise pioneers of cricket. In 2014 he was inducted into Cricket Canada’s Inaugural Hall of Fame Class as one of only two officials. In 2015 he was added to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame as a cricket sport legend whose achievement occurred before 1955 when the hall first opened (

Frederick James Heather died on the 22nd February 1976 in Toronto.

Godalming Museum © 2015