Born and raised in Kemptville, Sammy Gaw developed an interest in hockey at a young age, playing minor hockey in his home town. At 17, Sam was invited to the New York Rangers training camp in Winnipeg, and then assigned to the New York Rovers, a farm team of the Rangers.
The next year he was in the Canadian Army and played for an army team in Kingston. After a year he was transferred to Ottawa and played for the St. Pats Juniors who lost out in the Memorial Cup quarter finals to the Montreal Junior Canadians. In 1946 he played for the Kimberly B.C. Dynamiters in the Pacific Coast League and in 1947 came home to join the Kemptville Royals in the St. Lawrence Senior League where he played and was playing coach from time to time. The Royals won the league championship for three consecutive seasons.
In 1951 several Royals players joined the Brockville Magedomas in the New York-Ontario League. The Magedomas won the league championship for the next three years. In 1954 Sam went to Scotland and played for the Dunfermline Vikings in the British League. After one year, he returned to Kemptville and played for the Royals for two more seasons - in 1955-56 taking the St. Lawrence League Championship and winning the Citizen Shield.
Sam joined the Ottawa OldeTymers hockey organization in 1984 and played with them for fourteen years. In addition to playing three or four times a week in Ottawa, the OldeTymers played in tournaments across Canada and notably in the Snoopy Tournament in Santa Rosa, California, a tournament financed by Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts and Charlie Brown.In 1956 Sam and two partners purchased the Rideau Glen Golf Course in Kemptville and operated it for the next twenty one years.