Pictou Advocate sports

Remembering Pictou County


Guess it should have been expected.

Now that I’ve had my book published, what am I doing? How do I spend my time besides walking the dogs and watching my granddaughters playing hockey? What’s occupying my devotion besides the Maple Leafs and Blue Jays?

Questions keep coming.

At first, I just laughed, shrugged my shoulders or mentioned the good life in front of the big screen in the living room. At my age, I said, it’s time for retirement. Or something resembling retirement.

But I love writing.

So I began looking around, especially at the bookshelves surrounding my desk. Authors don’t necessarily rest their laurels after one book. Even authors from Pictou County.

Retired Judge Clyde Macdonald is an ideal example. He never ceases to amaze me the way he turns out books, focusing on county history. Every time I look, he’s unveiling another one.

Marcia (Campbell) Davey, the Pictou Landing gal who was a classmate in our high school days, has produced six interesting novels since retiring from her teaching career.

Sportsnet’s Ken Reid, who grew up in Pictou, though still so early in his broadcasting adventures, has already produced two informative hockey books.

Another Pictou Landing product – Marcia’s cousin, in fact – has written a history of that wonderful community on the east side of Pictou Harbour and has indicated he’s preparing to bring out a second book.

Other Pictonians, like county resident Monica Graham, whose freelance writing and photography have appeared in many publications, and popular Frank Cameron, the long-time New Glasgow-raised television and radio personality, have also been successful with their books.

And so it goes.

Yet, when I think about it, I can’t recall ever reading – or even seeing – a book based exclusively on Pictou County sports, its teams, its athletes and its builders. It got me thinking, to the point that I was sleepless in bed in the middle of the night, considering if it’s a void that could be filled.

So why not?

After brushing the idea aside for a time, I realized I couldn’t erase it completely from my mind. For good reason. I love writing too much not to give it a shot.

I had to step up to home plate. In bed or in front of the TV, at my favourite restaurants and coffee shops, while the dogs walked me in the neighbourhood, everywhere I went I envisioned a Pictou County sports book. Even picked a book title – Remembering Pictou County.

So here I go.

The planning has been done. The blueprint – with its list of 80-plus subjects – is in place. The resources are at my fingertips.

My first book – I’ve Lived My Dream – took 15 months to write, edit, format and get it off to the printer. Days were long and weekends weren’t a time for rest. Finally, in late October, I had a copy in my hands and the rest is history.

That 440-page effort focused on most aspects of my 62 years in the newspaper business, so I made sure it covered stories from all over Nova Scotia. Having worked with the provincial paper for almost half a century, I had to give the book a province-wide perspective.

Of course I made sure my native county got its share of attention. Nonetheless I had to leave out many of the county’s people and teams I really wanted to focus on. This time it’s going to be Pictou County from cover to cover.

Even after 48 years in Dartmouth and Cole Harbour, an adopted home I’ve loved, I never could stop paying attention to what was happening in New Glasgow, Pictou, Stellarton and the rest of the places “back home.”

I’ve been very fortunate.

For the last 19 years, while remaining in metro, I’ve been writing sports columns for Pictou County papers. Back in the area where writing began for me in the mid-1950s. From 1998 to 2004, I wrote columns for The Evening News, where it all began in my high school years. For the last 13 years, I’ve been producing this column in The Advocate.

I’ve saved copies of every column I’ve had in the New Glasgow and Pictou papers. There are now almost 1,100 of them in my filing cabinet.

I’ve wondered often where all that material would end up when I head for the big newsroom in the sky – yes, it’s customary to think of those things when you’re into your late 70s.

I convinced myself that the material should somehow be saved for the people in the county. Sometimes too much of our history, our past, is thrown away and forgotten. I’m sure Clyde Macdonald thinks of that too.

Maybe this is the right time, the right opportunity, to preserve memories about local hockey, baseball, softball, rugby, golf, running and the other achievements by people we’ve admired and cheered for throughout our lives.

As I roll up my sleeves, there are two significant reasons why I believe I have the resources – thanks to the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame, as well as the marvellous contributions by statistics-loving Corey Hartling who turned a hobby into an extremely valuable source.

In front of me are lists of individuals who have been inducted into the hall of fame since 1990. Several pages of inductees illustrate the many, many people who have contributed to the county’s sports history. They underline how fortunate we have been to witness their performances on the ice, on the fields, in the rings and pools, during each and every decade.

I just hope my effort will produce the results I envision.

As in the case of my first book, I’m fully aware that this second stint as an author will take time. Hopefully, it too will become a reality soon.

My job this spring and summer? Remembering Pictou County.

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