Addie Bell was born on the family homestead at Burnside, 14 kilometres west of Portage, in 1897. His family moved to Poplar Point when he was a teenager.
Bell was an accomplished athlete and avid sportsman, playing, and later coaching, hockey, baseball and golf. But he excelled in hockey, where he earned the nickname “60 Minute Bell” given that he usually played the entire game without relief. Upon returning from the Great War, he helped lead Poplar Point to the Manitoba Intermediate Championship in 1921. That same year, the team played Brandon, winners of the provincial Senior title, and Bell scored both goals in a 2-1 victory for Poplar Point.
Returning to military service for the Second World War, Bell then returned home, played some senior hockey, and embarked upon his career as a builder of sport. “He was brought to Portage from Poplar Point to be sports director at the provincial jail,” said his youngest son Bryan. “He administered a lot of hockey and baseball in this town.”
Staff-Sgt. Addie Bell founded the Southside Athletic Club with community help. From its humble origins in the winter of 1929-30 as a flooded rink in the Bells’ backyard (with pre-clubhouse change facilities in wife Edith’s kitchen), Southside became a focal point for youth hockey in Portage. He taught boys and girls to skate there, and coached a group of boys to the 1933 Manitoba Midget A title. It was at this time that Bell’s focus shifted from playing hockey to teaching. His two older boys, Joe and Gordie, were showing well as hockey prospects, and the team won the 1938 Midget A championship. In 1940, the Southside boys won a Junior B title, and the foundation was laid for the highlight of Bell’s hockey coaching career.
In 1942, the Portage Terriers junior hockey club consisted of twelve players, seven of whom were originally Southsiders, including sons Gordon in goal, Joe starring at left wing, and youngest son Bryan as the team mascot. The powerhouse offence also boasted Billy Gooden, Captain Jack MacDonald and regular season scoring champ Lin Bend. The Terriers captured the Ollie Turnbull Trophy as provincial champions with play-off victories over both St. James Canadiens and St. Boniface Athletics. Fort William fell to the Terriers next in three straight games. They swept the Edmonton Maple Leafs in three, to win the Western junior title and earn the right to compete for the Memorial Cup against Oshawa Generals. That spring, all four games were played to sell-out crowds of 5,000 at the Amphitheatre in Winnipeg. The Portage Terriers won three games to one, to capture the Junior hockey championship of Canada.
Addie Bell passed away in 1949 at the age of 52. He was posthumously inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame as a Builder in 1992, and into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame with the 1942 Terriers team in 2001.