Tag Archives: Orillia

That Lingering Issue

Ernie Kane made the backyard rink in Orillia, and I practiced like crazy.

A few years later, when I was playing in an atom/tyke league, I smothered a puck with my knees just like I’d seen Doug Harvey do in a picture, which you can see below. The difference was, Harvey smothered the puck in his end, and I smothered mine in front of the other team’s  net.

I remember a man yelling from the stands, “Hey, wrong end!” and I remember hearing some other parents laughing. It’s stuck with me. Maybe it’s why I still have certain issues.

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Rocket Signing The Orillia Book

The Rocket came to Orillia in 1962 to say hello and drop some pucks at the annual Variceties event at the arena, but something behind the scenes happened. The local sports reporter from the Packet and Times, who knew that I had a Habs scrapbook, asked if he could use one of my Richard pictures for the local program they were putting out.

I let him of course, and in return the reporter gave me this original photo he’d taken of the Rocket signing the Orillia registry.

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Maurice Richard coming to Orillia was a big thing for me, that’s for sure. He was my hero, which is something that’s never changed over the years.

Here’s the program, with my picture of Rocket I lent to the newspaper.

The Rocket signed it, but the pen was beginning to run out of ink.

Rocket 3

Rocket 2

Orillia Var

A hockey friend of mine, Warren Howes, sent a team picture (below) from that night, with his younger brother, the goalie, in the front row.

As you can see, the entire team is wearing Habs sweaters but it appears they might have been worn to make Maurice happy. The kids had either their team sweaters underneath, or Leafs sweaters, which is what Warren thinks.

You can see the Rocket standing behind the boys. And in my pile of Habs stuff here in Powell River is a helmet identical to the one the kid in the front row, third from left, is wearing

Rocket in Orillia

 

Canadiens Hijack Jets

A gutsy comeback by the Habs in Winnipeg, capped by Max Pacioretty’s overtime winner, and the boys glided off the ice with a nice 5-4 win.

What a difference a couple of days make. Incredibly lousy in Minnesota on Thursday night, and a hard-working, solid display on Saturday.

With Al Montoya in net.

With Andrew Shaw scoring two power play goals.

And with Hometown Hockey coming from my hometown Orillia tomorrow!

It’s elation, sort of! But they’re in Chicago after the Orillia piece, so the elation might be short lived.

The game in Winnipeg was a back and forth deal, with the Jets opening the scoring in the first, followed by Shaw’s first after he redirected Jonathan Drouin’s shot.

Shaw would strike again in the second, but after that it seemed all wrapped up for the Jets as they would soon even it up, take a 4-2 lead in the third after Blake Wheeler blew by a stumbling Jeff Petry, and we waited for the inevitable.

Things looked gloomy, yes they did. But Pleks, after great work by Gally down low, narrowed it to 4-3, and then Petry atoned for his big mistake by firing home the tying goal with just 4:44 left in the period.

Overtime it became, and as the clock moved toward a shootout, Max Pacioretty suddenly bulged the twine on the power play. And just like that, the Canadiens rack up four wins in six games.

Random Notes:

Habs outshot the Jets 50-23.

Brendan Gallagher has been a bright light on most nights, and Saturday was no exception. He just kept fighting, nobody works harder, and as my buddy Mike Williamson says, he should be captain.

Once again, if you get Sportsnet, tune in a half hour before game time and check out Hometown Hockey’s feature on Orillia, where I was a smallish yet shifty right winger for Byers Bulldozers midgets and bantams. A time when I had trouble focusing I guess, as I used to sing Beatles songs under my breath as I raced down the ice.

 

 

It Was Good To Be A Beatle

Yes it was good to be in the Beatles, but that photo shoot at Abbey Road drove me crazy. Two hours of back and forth, back and forth, until finally I’d simply had enough and just kept going, right to the St. John’s Wood underground station, out to Heathrow, and back to Canada where I got my dream job at the Porcelain and Metal factory in Orillia assembling metal doors for bathroom stalls on the graveyard shift.

So Many Disturbing Questions

From my grade two art book, in Mrs. Williams’s class at West Ward Public School in Orillia, circa 1957. Yes, I saved it.

It’s obviously Elvis Presley because it looks just like him. But I kinda spelled his name wrong.

There are questions.

Either the female fan has two pens for his autograph, or she’s preparing to stab him with nails. Was she really a fan, or was she something else?

Elvis is playing his guitar left-handed. Why? Was it a signal?

Although I can’t make out most of the words in the speech balloon because they were coloured over with red crayon, I think I can read ‘A cat’ at the top, and maybe ‘bot it’ at the bottom.

Why were the words coloured over? Curious.

Was ‘bot it’ code for ‘bought it, as in ‘killed’? Did Elvis already feel he was going to buy it? Was he on the KGB hit list and he knew it?

Did Krushchev’s wife have  an x-rated crush on Elvis, which might not have sat well with Nikita, thus escalating the Cold War?

Who was cat?

Was Elvis actually singing? Or was it a cry for help?

And what about Mrs. Williams? Did anybody REALLY know her?

 

 

 

Houses Of The Holy

Presenting the boyhood homes of four of the greatest players of all time.

All four photos were taken by yours truly. Not that I’m bragging or anything.

Below, the house in Bordeaux, Quebec, just north of Montreal, where Onesime and Alice Richard moved to from the Gaspe area when Onesime took a job in the big city as a CPR machinist. This is where son Maurice grew up with brother Henri and six other siblings.

When Maurice was older his dad got him a job in his machine shop for $20 a week.

rockets-house

Bobby Orr’s place in Parry Sound, across the street from the Seguin River where young Bobby learned to play the game better than anyone else, except for maybe the fourth player on this page.

This house is only a couple of hundred feet from Parry Sound’s main drag, but I’m guessing he didn’t hang out there looking for trouble, like I did in my home town.

orrs-house

Wayne Gretzky’s pad on Varadi Avenue in Brantford. A fine house on a nice tree-lined street. Bicycles and a little hockey net sit in the driveway, probably for various grandkids visiting Walter.

gretzky

And finally, Elmer Ave. in Orillia, where the smallish yet shifty Dennis Kane grew up. This is a guy who, while playing for Byers Bulldozers midget all-stars, had his shot clocked at an incredible 29 mph. And aside from seven or eight others, was the fastest skater on the team.

It’s a shame that scouts were either drunk or weren’t paying attention when Kane was playing.  It’s a shame that he was too smalI with shitty muscles. It’s a shame his shot sucked. It’s a shame that the wild and crazy 1960s came along and he got sidetracked. It’s a shame that he had a hard time focusing and would sometimes sing Beatles songs under his breath while carrying the puck down the wing.

There are several other fine excuses as well.

denniss-house

Toilet Door Pride

The next time you see metal toilet doors like the ones below, please keep in mind that Bruce Traviss and I used to put doors like these together, and we were good.

We were good and we were fast, and there were certain ways of doing things. Those things didn’t just assemble themselves you know.

We made those doors at an Orillia factory called Porcelain and Metal, and sometimes it was almost hard work.

But I wanted the best doors for you, because you were worth it. If you were alive then.

Hopefully modern day toilet door people show the same pride.

I was also motivated, because I was saving to go to England where I hoped to get a job making sure all the Beatles wives except Yoko were comfortable while the boys were in the studio.

What goes into toilet door making?

As the various parts of the doors came down the assembly line from the paint room, Bruce and I would spray the insides with black glue, attach a bunch of cardboard strips, fit the fittings, put it all together, and send it on its way. Then we’d do another and then another and then a whole bunch more.

We were so good at it that we had our night’s quota finished after a few hours and were able to smoke a lot and catch mice in barrels for the rest of our shift.

We always let the mice go of course. We liked the cute little bastards. I still like them and I hope Bruce does too.

I did this job for a year or so, saved my money, and in November of 1968 took the Empress of England ocean liner to England with another friend, Robin Metcalfe, where we stayed for much of the winter and spent my washroom door money on beer, fish and chips, rent, and a cool John Mayall show in a dingy club called Klook’s Kleek.

Hopefully the next time you feel like kicking a metal washroom door or writing terrible and sometimes funny things on it, please keep in mind that somebody out there worked hard putting your door together so you’ll have a comfortable and private stay as you empty your innards.

Always remember – buried inside those metal doors are a bunch of cardboard strips and a lot of black glue, which you can ponder as you sit.

And if the lock doesn’t work, it’s probably not the door assembler’s fault. Although it could be I guess, if the assembler isn’t as good as Bruce and I were.

Below, the Empress of England that Robin and I sailed on to England. My ticket was bought thanks to the doors.

Three Stories From Way Back

Three short stories on this April day as we enjoy all the Canadian teams in the playoffs.

Beef cattle, farm pond, Oklahoma

My friend and I (he doesn’t like me talking about him so I’ll just call him Fred), stuck out our thumbs in Vancouver back in the fall of 1969 and began to slowly make our way across the country to Orillia.

Late at night in Swift Current we hopped on a boxcar and rode for several hours until we saw the lights of Moose Jaw in the distance. We’d been warned that if yard security caught us we would end up in jail and that would’ve sucked, so we needed to jump off before the train reached the end.

As we began to slow down, Fred said we should jump and off he went, right into a cow pond that got him drenched from head to toe and smelling like a sewage plant.

About twenty seconds later, the train came to a complete stop and I walked off.

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tooth

My friends and I used to drink Four Aces sherry (95 cents) and other such marvels, down in the bush with the hobos. These old hobos would sit in their clearing deep in the forest, grumbling and cursing but not really talking a lot, with their campfire burning and bottles emptying, and we’d join them because it was safe as we were usually underage at that time.

After guzzling my Four Aces on one of these visits, I threw up and staggered out of Hobo Jungle, but minutes later realized that I’d lost my false tooth and plate. So I staggered back through the bush in complete darkness, and somewhere along the line put my hand down on the ground.

Although I couldn’t see a thing and was blind drunk, my hand landed right on my false tooth.

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In grade ten my school organized a class trip to Ottawa, but students had to have half-decent marks to qualify.

I didn’t qualify.

But I really wanted to go on the class trip, so I rounded up my friend Craig Ortiz and we hitchhiked there instead.

At the start, just outside of Orillia, we hid in the ditch as the school buses with all those students who were smarter than me passed us, but because we were lucky with rides, we beat those buses to Ottawa. At the Lord Elgin Hotel, where they were checking in, we surprised everyone and were allowed by the teachers to sleep on the floor of someone’s room.

It was good fun I think, but hitchhiking back sucked and Craig and I ended up at the Lindsay police station where we asked a cop if we could sleep in a cell that night because it was freezing cold, and he obliged.

Back at school, Craig and I were each given a month’s detention.