Yesterday, TSN producer Matt Dunn and television personality Brian Williams came to Fairwinds to interview Gerry James about his dual careers in the CFL and NHL. After shooting footage of Gerry playing golf with some members of his old foursome, everyone gathered in the club house for lunch. Thanks to Ward Stouffer, his staff and the Fairwinds Golf Club for hosting us.
One reason for the visit was the recent achievement of Jon Cornish and Andrew Harris, two Canadian running backs who duplicated what Gerry and Normie Kwong accomplished 55 years ago. 1957 was the last time two Canadians ran for over 1000 yards in the same season. More importantly, Brian and Matt made it clear that they both feel it is their mission to convince Canadians that it’s important to celebrate some of the country’s forgotten iconic figures; not just in sports but in general. To paraphrase Brian, when you ask young fans today if they can imagine someone playing in a Grey Cup and Stanley Cup in the same season, they simply shake their heads. Then they say, but he didn’t do both full time. Yes he did, Brian answers, and they stare at him in disbelief. And he did both for five seasons, Brian adds. Gerry played five seasons for the Toronto Maple Leafs and pro ball for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for ten years, twice winning the Schenley and placing runner-up to “The Rocket” for the Lou Marsh Award in 1957. He still holds the record for playing in the most post-season games.
After lunch we returned to Marg’s and Gerry’s house where Brian talked to the couple about their lives back in the glory days and sketched in the years since. At the end of the day, Brian and I sat down to talk about writing Kid Dynamite, why I had done it and what I had learned. We discovered a common concern and passion; the need to pay homage to those who help define our character. The story will likely be broadcast on TSN the week of the Western final, November 18th. Thanks Brian, Matt, and the all-important technical duo of Vince and Sparky. You made the day memorable. And you have helped resurrect a career everyone should celebrate.
Along with our wives, Gerry James and I spent three days, between October 15 and 18, as presenters at a Senior’s Getaway at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. The location on a pristine lake in the mountains is stunning and the Lodge one of those iconic places that borders on being a sacred site for both its history and setting. Memories reinforce this impression. Photos of Marilyn Munroe and Bing Crosby, frequent visitors to the Lodge, greet you at one of the entrances to the main building. We gave two sessions in which we discussed writing the biography and Gerry’s record-breaking career in the CFL and NHL. Both sessions were attended by between 30 and 40 people. What wonderful audiences they were! The staff at the Lodge were amazing, always gracious and cheerful. Undoubtedly they made the three-day event a joy for everyone. Our gratitude to guests and staff alike for a memorable experience.
Between October 15 and 18, 2012, Gerry James and Ron will be appearing at the Jasper Park Lodge at the lodge’s annual Seniors Getaway. Gerry and Ron will be talking about life writing and the challenges of biography as well as discussing Gerry’s dual careers in the CFL and NHL. They will also be selling and signing books.
Work with Connie Watts on new illustrated children’s book progresses well. This creation story in which all the characters, animal and human, learn the value of living in harmony under one sky, brings together Bear, Orca, Raven and Wolf. A transformational tale for all ages.
On a recent visit to the Yukon, Ron and Pat Smith met with Premier Darrell Pasloski in Whitehorse. Ron presented the premier, who once played for Gerry James in Melville of the SJHL, with a copy of Kid Dynamite. The premier mentioned that Gerry had been a major influence on his life as a young man growing up in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. He said he hoped to read the book on his summer vacation in the Maritimes.
Today I received a note from Lynn Thompson of Salt Spring Island who wrote the following after reading Kid Dynamite: The Gerry James Story.
Just finished Kid Dynamite and thoroughly enjoyed it – brought back so many memories. I watched Gerry play against the Roughriders many years ago (hitchhiked to Regina from small town Sask.) and also when the Marlies won the Memorial Cup.
Then years later when I taught in Yorkton we crossed paths again. He was coaching when I was Vice-Principal of the Yorkton Regional High School and met with him when placing his players in our school. He was easily the best coach the Terriers ever had from our perspective. He had a priority for education and told the boys he didn’t want any contact from the school re – attendance, etc. If they were a problem at school, they were off his team! I curled against Gerry in the men’s league and can attest to his competitive nature. He was though always a good sport and good for a quip.
Thanks again for such a wonderful book – extremely well researched and written.
Kid Dynamite now available on the BC Ferries.
Ron Smith is a BC writer of poetry, children’s books, fiction, non fiction and drama. Author of NHL and CFL biography Kid Dynamite: The Gerry James Story and the children’s book Elf the Eagle, he lives near Nanoose Bay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.