The Heavyweight Champ

Lieutenant Colonel Ernest S. Wigle
18th (Western Ontario) BattalionWigle

Mayor E. S. Wigle today had more than his 78th birthday to celebrate. He could also boost of a one-punch knockout…

Mayor Wigle, 220 pounds of brawn on a still-athletic frame, felled his former pupil with a straight right to the face as they mixed after a few minutes of exhibition sparring. When he came to the admiring Campbell declared “There isn’t a man in the house could have withstood that wallop.”

(Ottawa Citizen, 9 Dec 1937, 2)

Ernest Solomon Wigle was a prominent Ontario lawyer and former mayor of Windsor (1905—1909). He was born on 5 March 1859 in Essex County, Canada West. The six-foot Wigle was active in football and cricket but his sporting speciality was boxing. In 1884, he won the intercollegiate heavyweight championship and was undefeated as the Essex County championship.

18thAs commanding officer of 21st Essex Fusiliers, Wigle organized the 18th Battalion based in London in November 1914. The 18th deployed to France with 4th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Division in September 1915. Major Henry Linton Milligan replaced him on 8 July 1916.

Wigle returned to Canada in October to care for his dying wife. He was nominated to be the Union Government candidate in the riding of Essex North during the December 1917 federal election campaign. His Laurier Liberal opponent, William Costello Kennedy, attacked Wigle’s record arguing, “the war in France and Flanders cannot be won by Colonels in Windsor.”

In a surprise announcement, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Baird Welch, former commander of the 99th Battalion, endorsed the Liberal rather than his fellow CEF commander. Due in part to Welch’s support, Kennedy narrowly defeated Wigle by less than 500 votes. Wigle received 1339 soldier votes compared to only 93 for Kennedy, but it was not enough to make up the difference in the civilian totals.

Wigle served another term as mayor of Windsor in 1937. In his 1938 re-election campaign, the press speculated that the former boxing champion mayor would face his thirty-eight year old opponent David Croll in the ring. Wigle stated, “Croll wouldn’t meet me if I did challenge him. He’s afraid of me. Why he won’t even meet me in a debate.” Despite Wigle’s confidence, Croll easily won the election.

Wigle remained active in sports and athletics until his death on 5 October 1947.

5 thoughts on “The Heavyweight Champ

  1. You should also do an article on Colonel Walter Leishman McGregor, Colonel Wigle was his father-in-law. (And Col. McGregor had a son who became Lt. Col. Walter Leishman McGregor (Junior)!)

  2. So cool to find this!! Great website, fascinating, i recently discovered my great uncle served in the 1st Depot WOR under Lt. Wigle, would you happen to know any information at all about Nealie Frederick Urbshott? Drafted under the Military Service Act on June 13, 1918.

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