William "Hod" Stuart learned to play hockey on the fertile sporting grounds that were the Ottawa Valley. He enjoyed playing rugby in the autumn but later rose to prominence as one of the greatest defencemen to play the game in hockey's early day. He was as complete a player as there was back in the days of the "onside" game. He could skate, shoot, and make the big play from his point position.
Stuart's senior hockey career began far from the Valley, with the Rat Portage (now Kenora) Thistles in 1895-96. But by 1898 he was back home in Ottawa as a member of the Silver Seven in the CAHL. He and his brother, Bruce, hooked up with the Quebec Bulldogs in 1900, and while Bruce returned to Ottawa for the following season, Hod stayed in Quebec and registered five goals in eight games with the Ancient City squad.
He moved on to the professional ranks, at first with the Pittsburgh Bankers of the WPHL in 1902-03, and then with the Calumet Miners of the IHL in 1904-05, scoring 18 goals in 22 games and holding the dual roles of captain and manager with the club.
Stuart was a clean player who played for keeps. His punishing checks and long reach frustrated his opponents as much as his offensive rushes dazzled the fans. He was a crusader for respectable salaries and decent playing conditions, but after a particularly bloody and mean-spirited game between Pittsburgh and the Michigan Soo in 1906, a disgusted Stuart accepted a standing offer from the Montreal Wanderers of the ECAHA to finish the season back east. He was one of only four professionals to play for the Wanderers that season.
Stuart was with the Wanderers in March 1907 when they defeated the Kenora Thistles for the Stanley Cup. Tragically, it would be Stuart's only Cup championship. In the early summer of 1907, he traveled to Belleville, Ontario, to oversee the construction of the Belleville Drill Shed, a job his father's company was contracted for. During a break from work, Stuart suffered a fatal injury when he struck his head on rocks while diving into the unfamiliar waters at the Bay of Quinte, breaking his neck and being killed instantly.
An estimated 3,800 spectators attended a Hod Stuart Memorial Game on January 2, 1908. The exhibition, pitting the Montreal Wanderers against a squad of All-Stars, raised close to $2,000 for Stuart's widow and two children, and was the first such "all-star" contest in hockey.
Hod Stuart was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1945.