Guy Lafleur was a regular guy who just happened to be a hockey legend; a Hall of Fame National Hockey League career might have taken Guy of a small town but it didn’t take the small town out of Guy.
Cornwall native Mike O’Connor (CCVS grad) who calls himself a retired “bucket list adventurer” discovered this first hand in a chance encounter with Lafleur in Cornwall at Marina 200 several years back.
O’Connor, retired president and CEO of Calgary-based O’Connor Associates, tied up at Marina 200 on the initial leg of a first-time trip east along the St. Lawrence to Montreal from Gananoque, where he keeps his sailing boat, the A Mi Manera.
The next morning a cruiser named the OCEAN’S 10 arrived at Marina 200 and by chance eased into the slip next to O’Connor. It was piloted by Lafleur who had travelled from Montreal with his wife, Lise.
The marina had become one of Lafleur’s ports of call along the St. Lawrence.
O’Connor who had never met Lafleur, but was well aware of the Thurso native’s immense footprint in the NHL, helped him tie up and soon he was engaged in conversation with his new “neighbour”.
Lafleur and his wife, Lise, accepted O’Connor’s invitation to join he and the “admiral”/partner – Jana Kristin – to pore over some river charts for the second leg of the journey.
Not only did The Flower provide some navigational tips, he suggested O’Connor put in to the Old Port of Montreal Marina, Lafleur’s home base, for a couple of days.
O’Connor wondered about securing a slip at the busy marina. No problem, said Lafleur. He placed a call to the marina to reserve a spot for “mes amis.”
En route to Montreal, they tagged along behind the OCEAN’S 10 to the Montreal marina where Lafleur was welcomed “home” by deckhands.
As O’Connor tied up, one of the young hands proudly announced that the slip had been reserved (for O’Connor) by Lafleur, the marina’s “signature client” and “the nicest captain in the marina.”
The Lafleurs insisted that O’Connor and Kristin join them for dinner at one of his favourite restaurants in Old Montreal, La Maree, where the staff greeted the familiar Lafleur as if he were royalty.
After a few “adult” beverages, a sumptuous meal and hours of conversation, the four walked back to their boats.
The guests couldn’t help but notice that despite the restaurant closing and the staff cleaning up, there was not rush to have the famous hockey player and his guests ushered out.
On the way back to the marina, O’Connor mentioned to Lafleur that sailing to Montreal and staying in the Old Port marina had been one of the items on his bucket list.
“I never imagined, however, just how big of an adventure it would turn out to be,” he told the hockey legend.
No doubt Lafleur’s death last week kindled fond memories of hanging out with an ordinary hockey legend.
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In April 1957, an investigation carried out by the Ontario Provincial Police hit a brick wall in trying to find out where $5,000 in cash and cheques went after it was dropped off at the Pitt Street police station for safe keeping.
Richard Silmser, motor vehicles licence bureau operator, turned the money, in a large manila envelope, over to the front desk on a Friday night. Since his office did not have a safe, it was his practice to leave cash with the station.
However, when he showed up on Monday to retrieve the money, the envelope could not be found.
The investigation speculated that the envelope might have been inadvertently chucked out with trash. It was never found.
The local police commission absolved the force of any blame in the mysterious disappearance. However, that did not snuff out rumours in the community of it being an inside job.
ALSO THIS MONTH IN 1957
– Sod for the new United Church in Ingleside was turned. It combined the Wales, Aultsville, Osnabruck Centre and Gallingertown congregations.
– Among the scholarship winners at the annual Kinsmen Music Festival were Ronald Lavigne, Norma MacLellan, Flora Cameron, Peter McGuire, Joan Loucks, Frances McGillis and Richard Abraham.
– Jade Garden Restaurant on Second Street East held its grand opening.
– Charles Stewart, 13, of Central Public School, placed second in the regional spelling bee in Ottawa. He received a set of Encyclopedia Britannica.
– New teachers hired by the public school board for the next term were Robert Ralph, Clare Garlough, Ellis Barclay, Marilyn Ferguson, Geraldine Daye, Joyce Laplante, Shirley Murphy and Doris Montgomery.
– Canadian Tire opened its new store at 538 Pitt St.
– The local health unit said 18,000 students had received the first two doses of the Salk polio vaccine.
– The federal government census put Cornwall’s population at 40,527. Of the total, 22,574 came from the part of Cornwall Township annexed by the city.
– Consumers Gas, Cornwall Natural Gas Co. and Lakeland Gas were seeking the franchise to supply the city with natural gas. Lakeland would win out.
– Receiving 40-year pins at the Howard Smith Paper Mill long-service dinner were P. J. Gillie, J. H. Lefebvre, R. H. Tilton, E. A. Sabourin and T. R. Villeneuve.
– After surveying the drained Longue Sault Rapids, an Ontario Hydro soil geologist put the age of the St. Lawrence River at 6,000 years.
– Colonial Coach buses carried 100 Cornwall and area teen-agers to Ottawa for the Elvis Presley concert at Ottawa Auditorium. CKSF got an exclusive back-stage interview with the budding rock’n’roller. Before the concert Ottawa police said it would have officers on site to guard against rowdy behavior. Some church groups opposed Presley’s presence in the Capital, claiming that his on-stage style and music was a bad influence on young people.
– City council took steps to reserve waterfront property on the eastern outskirts of the city for a harbour. … For stealing a pair of boots from a fellow rooming house lodger, a city man was given 30 days in the counties jail.
In 1884 this priest was named to establish a parish in east Cornwall to be called Nativity:
1) Father Charles Murray,
2) Father Joseph-Azellus de Saunhac,
3) Father J. J. Kelly,
4) Father George Corbet,
5) Father Jean-Louis Gonzaga.
In the Kingston Trio hit “M.T.A”, Charlie was riding the subway beneath the streets of Boston.
“The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.”
– Will Rogers