Tag Archives: Powell River

The Little Sports Bar

For a short while in the late 1990s, my friend and I owned a little sports bar in Powell River, and although it was a struggle, we were proud of it.

Proud of it when we weren’t losing our minds.

It began when I was living in Calgary and was visiting an old friend in Powell River after my marriage had gone up in smoke. At one point during a drinking session at his kitchen table, we found ourselves talking about how we could do a few things differently in our lives, and I mentioned that I had this great sports collection that would look mighty fine in a sports bar.

He looked at me and I looked at him, and light bulbs went on.

Shortly after our little kitchen table talk, we were eating in a restaurant nearby and I said to my friend that this cozy little place would be perfect for a sports bar. We looked around, nodded our heads, and that was it. I went back to Calgary to drive semis in ice and snow again.

Not long after, my buddy phoned me and told me the little place we’d been in was now up for sale, and before we could say “I didn’t mean it”, we had bought ourselves a little fifty-seat joint.

We didn’t know how to run a sports bar. He was a construction worker and I was a truck driver. But we did it anyway. And it was his idea to call it Kane’s, not mine.

Originally it was supposed to be called Kane’s Sports Bar, but with the archaic liquor laws in BC at the time, they had us change it to Kane’s Sports Bistro because we weren’t allowed to have the words bar or pub in it. We were only granted a B license which meant kids could come in, and grown-ups had to eat something while drinking. (these laws have since been changed).

I put my collection on the walls, we set up three big televisions, and away we went. Unfortunately, the old adage that one must be in business at least five years before making a profit seemed absolutely true in our case.

We could see success still a long way off, and we lasted less than two years and finally sold it. By that time I was beginning to pay my rent with a credit card.

But in that short time of being pub owners there were highlights. HOFers Frank Mahovlich and Red Storey came in while on an oldtimers tour, and Frank came back later that night for dinner with his niece, who lived in Powell River.

And Red, refereeing the game that night and wearing a microphone, told the crowd how great our place was.

On another night I closed the doors and drank beer and talked until early morning with Jeff and Steve Carlson of the Hanson brothers who were in town for a promotional thing at the rink. (The third member of the notorious trio, Dave Hanson, stopped by for just a few minutes).

Not only did the Carlson’s  fill me in on what life was like after Slap Shot, but they also told me what a great guy co-star Paul Newman was, along with plenty of stories from their mostly minor-league playing days.

The three us drank a lot of the day’s profits that night.

We had closed circuit boxing, hockey parties, soccer teams coming in early to watch big games from overseas, and the local junior team aired post-game radio shows out of our place.

And on Saturdays we put out peanuts and encouraged folks to throw the shells on the floor.

I was new in Powell River but because of the pub it didn’t take long before I was on first-name basis with much of the town.

There was also a silver lining from having this little place. The publisher of the local newspaper was a regular and asked me to write a regular column for his paper. And because my name was out there from the pub and the newspaper, I was eventually hired by BC Ferries because they knew I had a good relationship with the public.

It was a great experience, but all in all, unless you’ve got a ton of dough and don’t have to be there all the time like we were, I’d suggest sticking with a job where you actually get paid.

Running a pub is more work than you can imagine. I was exhausted, broke, and completely stressed. While people watched the big games on the TVs, I didn’t have time because I was running all over the place. The bills never stopped coming in. My partner and I had begun to quarrel. I wasn’t sleeping properly, and because I had unlimited access to the beer dispenser, I was drinking too much after hours.

All in all though, it was a tremendous experience. But I wouldn’t do it again.

Hi Normand, You Don’t Know Me But…

JIM WITHERS: FOR USE WITH STUBBS COLUMN IN EDITIONS OF MONDAY, MARCH 15, 2010: Canadiens legend Maurice (Rocket) Richard tapes a stick in the Canadiens dressing room during the 1959-60 season, the final season for the Habs great, watched by sons Normand (centre) and Maurice Jr. A new bilingual, two-DVD set featuring the Rocket is being released now, shortly before the 10th anniversary of his death, and Maurice Jr. says he's amazed at the enduring popularity of his late father. CREDIT: DAVID BIER STUDIOS, GAZETTE FILES

The Rocket tapes his stick during the 1959-60 season, while sons Normand and Maurice Jr. watch carefully.

Normand is the same age as me, and when I was living in Montreal a couple of years ago, I phoned him. Twice.

The first time I called, I opened with “Hi Normand, your dad was my hero!”, or something like that. The second time was more along the lines of, “Hi, it’s that guy again who called that other time.”

Normand was very nice and seemed just fine with the fact that some stranger was calling. I appreciated that.

Both times I called we talked for about 20 minutes or so, and during the second chat he agreed to meet me for coffee, although he said he was driving a friend’s car to Florida the next day and we’d have to wait until he got back.

I was very excited. I wanted to tell him that when I was a kid, I often wondered what it would be like to be the Rocket’s son. And I wondered if we’d need menus.

I wanted to be Normand’s friend back then, and I wanted to be his friend now.

But it wasn’t to be. Mainly because when he got back from Florida, I was back in Powell River.

Eaten By Sharks

shark

For those of you who find a whack of Habs game blacked out in your area over the course of the season, I can only offer one suggestion. Move to Powell River.

Yes, Powell River, where all 82 games, whether they’re on RDS or Sportsnet or whatever, are shown. I don’t know why. It’s good, though.

Okay, it’s not always good.

Like tonight, when the Canadiens fell 3-1 to the San Jose Sharks at the Bell Centre, and which becomes six losses in the last eight games.

The slump continues, regardless of the win over the Ottawa Senators when they fired 27 shots at the enemy net in the first period alone.

I suppose I could say the obvious. We need Carey Price back.

Dustin Tokarski wasn’t good, allowing three goals on 12 shots, and replaced by Mike Condon midway through the second period.

Imagine Toker now. He’d started the previous two games, played well, including a nice job in his team’s 3-1 win over Ottawa, and could sniff a possible return to the show after almost blowing it permanently to Mike Condon.

Now he’s back to square one. Replaced by Condon again. That’s a stay awake pill if there ever was one.

It has to be a tough life being a backup. Jason LaBarbera might say so. LaBarbera, currently in the Philadelphia system, has bounced back and forth between the NHL and the minors, mostly as a backup, for sixteen years, and says he’s had 16 different goalie coaches along the way. And almost every year he packs up the wife and kids and moves to a new city and a new team.

But backup goalies are backups for a reason. They’ve got the tools but they’re inconsistent. It must be frustrating for all of them.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot San Jose 27-18.

Dale Weise, with his tenth of the season, was the Habs’ lone scorer.

Torrey Mitchell played his first game since Nov. 19th when he suffered a lower body injury against Phoenix.

Carey Price was introduced to the crowd and looked happy, healthy, and rested. Earlier today (Tuesday), Price was named winner of the Lou Marsh Award as Canada’s athlete of the year.

Next up – Thursday, when it’s the L.A. Kings in town.

 

 

Hope The Boss Doesn’t Mind

Technically I’m retired. Have been for nine months or so.

But I’m now working four hours each morning, five days a week, at the Carlson Community Club (formerly the Moose Lodge) in Powell River, washing floors, scrubbing toilets, setting up bingo tables, taking out the garbage, etc. etc.

This is a good thing, not a bad thing.

I can walk there in eight minutes, it keeps me nice and busy, and frankly, the extra money helps because we’re raising a baby girl who isn’t even a year old yet. (Something to ponder. When she’s 20, I’ll be 85 and Lucy 83).

Lots to do in this morning job at the CCC, including sign-changing out front.

Maybe the boss won’t notice.

Please note. If the photo is sideways it’s weird because an hour ago it wasn’t. I’m working on it.

Further to this – on my laptop it’s normal, on my iPad it’s sideways. I surrender.

 

CCC

 

A Year Already

It was a year ago exactly that Lucy and I finally reached Montreal after a fine car ride full of excitement, anticipation, and Boston Pizzas.

One that began in Powell River, 120 km up the coast from Vancouver, and about a million miles from Montreal in almost every other sense.

I had retired from BC Ferries, about to begin an entirely new thing with Classic Auctions in Montreal, and now suddenly, like the snap of a finger, it’s been a year already.

Classic Auctions, if you’re not aware, is the world’s biggest and best hockey historical auction house. My job is to write descriptions of the auctions pieces and go on about players and teams related to the pieces.

When we got to Montreal we didn’t have a place to live and spent a week in a hotel until we found one. It was stressful. I like hotels but when you feel you might be stuck in one for weeks, the novelty wears off.

In Montreal, apartments don’t come with fridges and stoves, which I think is unusual. And it didn’t help that we didn’t have any furniture.

Wherever I’ve been in the past, apartments have been labelled as one bedroom, or two bedroom etc. In Montreal, and I suppose throughout Quebec, they’re called 2 1/2, or 3 1/3 etc.

I still haven’t got it perfectly straight. I think a 3 1/2 is a two bedroom. I could be wrong about that. (update – I just learned from a waitress that 3 1/2 is a one bedroom.)

We finally found a lady looking to rent her furnished condo, she happened to be Russian and her and Lucy chatted away, and now it’s where we live.

About 12 minutes to the Habs rink in Brossard.

I’m not getting as lost now. My French has improved only slightly. Traffic sucks and my middle finger is getting worn out.

If some drivers knew what I was saying about them, I might be sleeping in a shallow grave right now. Tailgators, stop the madness. I already drive over the speed limit. What more do you want?

Often I think about how much I’d like to live in downtown Montreal with a cafe on the corner, but can’t because I work on the south shore and the traffic on the bridges is completely insane.

And there’s the thing about affording to live downtown which I never really considered.

I’m thinking I won’t be living downtown.

It’s been exactly a year of adventure. Hard to believe. It seems like just a few weeks ago we were packing up the car and heading to the ferry where I used to work but now was traveling on for the first leg of a long journey to a completely different job.

Maybe you think it’s unusual for me to do this. Just drop everything and move across the country. I think so too. I could be retired. I could be living on the coast where it doesn’t get very cold.

But I think those who know me well aren’t all that surprised.

 

 

Habs To Crush Canucks – Hopefully

Aside from the Price/Luongo Olympics-related storyline, the Diaz/Weise swap, and the game being huge for both teams, this is a night when the Canadiens really have to win on top of all that.

I just spent the last 17 years among smug Canucks fans. I don’t know why they’re smug, but I suspect it has something to do with their team being better during the regular season than the Habs over the past couple of decades.

Not that the Canucks have been any good in the playoffs, but that’s beside the point. Canucks fans I know never failed to remind me of the superiority of their team.

Yes, I know, Habs fans have been accused of being the same thing at times. But the accusers have been wrong. We’re misunderstood salt of the earth fans.

If we were a tad smug, it was years ago. It doesn’t count

And one last thing to mention. I miss many of these smug Canucks fans. Great people, great friends. I’ll be thinking of you when the game’s on.

 

 

 

 

A Night To Remember

The 2014 Winter Auction is coming up soon at Classic Auctions, and one of the lots we’re putting up are the three Charlestown Chiefs jerseys worn by the Hanson brothers in the movie Slap Shot.

There should be a fair amount of buzz about this.

And mentioning the auction is a good way of getting to my Hanson brothers story.

The Hansons came to Powell River in the late-1990s to do their schtick before a Powell River Kings/BCHL game, towing along the back of the zamboni, pretending to be unruly, and generally being very amusing for the fans.

Before they went up to the arena, they came into the little sports bar my friend and I owned, all decked out with their taped hands, horn-rimmed glasses, and Charlestown Chiefs jerseys, and ranted about “old time hockey”.

It was prearranged and they did it for free.

After the game, two of the three Hansons (Jeff and Steve Carlson), came back to the pub, I locked the door, and the three us sat at the bar and drank beer and talked hockey until 5 am. They were both tremendously friendly guys, completely down to earth, and I remember them talking a lot about how they thought Jaromir Jagr was such a great player and how Paul Newman was a wonderful guy.

We drank a lot of beer that night, I had to open the bar a few hours later with a hangover, and the Hanson brothers left town for another gig in another town. All in all, a fine night indeed.

I might be talking to them on the phone soon, and if so, I’m going to ask if they remember that night in Powell River. Maybe they won’t.

But I’m hoping they do.

A New Year Comin’ Up Fast

Canada plays the U.S. today in World Junior action, and it’s the Habs in Carolina this evening to meet the Hurricanes.

It’s a good hockey day, and even better if both Canada and the Canadiens win.

But before all this action takes place, I’d like to wish everyone a very great 2014. I hope it becomes a terrific year for you and yours.

2013 was a big year for Luci and I. I retired from B.C. Ferries, packed up things in Powell River, and we drove across the country to start anew in Montreal. And even with the frosty air and slippery streets, we both agree that it’s been just great and we’re excited about the new year.

Again, from me to you, happy 2014. Be safe and have fun.

Two Months Now In Montreal

It’s been two months exactly since arriving in Montreal, and you bet it’s been a big change. Coming from a city of 20,000, up the coast from Vancouver, where I could bomb around town, stop at the grocery store, get some gas, go to the dump, stop at the license bureau, make my dentist appointment, and buy socks at Walmart, all in an hour or two.

That’s not the case in Montreal. We’re talking a couple of days for this kind of thing. It took me most of one day just to get my driver’s license and new plates here.

In Powell River, traffic jams mean five cars at a traffic light. Montreal isn’t quite like that. Not by a friggin country mile.

You hardly ever see a detour sign in Powell River. In Montreal however……….

I used to get upset with slow drivers on the Sunshine Coast. In Montreal, I want to slam my brakes on the next person who tailgates me when I’m already 20 kms. over the speed limit, get out and pound his or her windshield with a crowbar.

Montreal has sports talk radio, which is the first such thing I’ve heard since I moved to Powell River from Calgary 18 years ago. I listened to CBC in Powell River.

It was 99% English there. I’m living in St. Hubert now, which is 99% French.

Most Powell Riverites cheer for the Vancouver Canucks. In Montreal, it’s another team. 🙂

The view’s better in Powell River, with the ocean and Vancouver Island just across the way, with fishing boats and tugs going by. However, if you’ve ever seen some of the Montreal women walking around, you might ask yourself what’s better.

From my deck in Powell River I could hear sea lions barking. I’ve yet to hear one sea lion in Montreal. Although I saw a deer on Cousineau Boulevard recently.

More often than not, strangers walking past each other in Powell River smile and say hello. Not so much in Montreal.

I’ve noticed that some shopkeepers in Montreal aren’t overly friendly. Then I remembered that some in Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, and yes, even Powell River, aren’t either.

I’ve yet to see any loggers or fishermen in Montreal.

It would be ridiculous to compare smoked meat between the two places. But the prawns in Powell River are sensational.

Beer’s slightly cheaper in Montreal, but taxes are higher.

Montreal’s downtown is fabulous and I’d love to live in the heart of it. Powell River doesn’t have a downtown. Just some shops here and there. And of course the Walmart in the mall, which isn’t really the downtown but probably is.

Luci and I grew palm trees in our yard in Powell River. Ain’t gonna happen in Montreal.

Everyone in Powell River talks about not being able to live away from the ocean. I can, and the St. Laurence suits me just fine.

Montreal gets some serious winter. Powell River dips a few degrees below zero, but it rains non-stop for four or five months. I’m not afraid of Montreal’s cold and snow. I grew up with it in Ontario. And I drove semis in it for 20 years.

The bottom line is, both places are great. I have an excellent hockey-related job. And I’m living in the home of the Montreal Canadiens, the team I’ve loved for about 57 years now.

Maybe Luci and I will end up back on the West Coast, in beautiful Powell River. But right now I’m focused on my job at Classic Auctions, which is a big learning curve to be sure, and also on living in Montreal, which I’ve wanted to do for much of my life. And Luci is embracing the whole idea.

You might ask yourself, why would he do this at his age, leaving a tranquil place with everything pretty well under control, and just take it easy instead? It’s because I’m restless, always have been, and if I turned down a chance to work at the best hockey auction house on the planet, I’d regret it for the rest of my life.

Two months now in Montreal. I can’t believe it.

 

 

 

 

Mr. Goalie

He came to Powell River in 1997 when the Allan Cup was on, and I asked him if I could buy him breakfast the next day. He said sure, we did, we talked hockey, and then I gave him a tour of the area in my little Hyundai Excel.

A real nice fellow, this Western Canadian farmer dubbed “Mr. Goalie”. When I asked him who the greatest ever was, he didn’t even have to think about it. Gordie Howe could do everything better than anybody else, he said, including Gretzky, whom he never played against of course, and Bobby Orr.

Glenn Hall, elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975, was the goalie in nets for the St. Louis Blues when Bobby Orr scored his famous “flying through the air” Stanley Cup winner in the spring of 1970.

Glenn Hall

Orr