Since Canadian Football season is just a turn around the corner, I am reminded of my uncle. I am proud to state Jackie Stewart was a Canadian football star, who never told me he was.
He never bragged, nor painted stories of glory about him getting a football record for carrying the ball for six touchdowns in one game (yes six, and they won 36-0) across the goal line for the Hamilton Cats, one of two Canadian professional teams.
The other was the Hamilton Tigers, in Hamilton, Ontario. Not too many years later they joined together to form the CFL Hamilton Tiger Cats.
Unknown to me, he played from 1947-53 and was a super star, as I read in one of his press clippings when I was 14, two years after he retired.
I grew up in northern Quebec and hockey was the primary sport which occupied our minds. I remember one day being shown his special trophy room in Hamilton, Ontario. It was filled with awards and pictures of him with all the sports heroes of the day.
Uncle Jack never regretted missing out on national hoopla because apparently the Canadian Football League was established shortly after he retired, and standings prior to the new professional league did not count in future record books.
He left the grid iron to accept an excellent job as Assistant Operations Manager for Carling's Ale in Peterborough, Toronto, then was promoted to Manager for Hamilton.
The Carlings company cashed in on his sports fame and it also worked out well for him. When Carling's Ale, one of the premier breweries in Ontario, eventually phased out all their Managers, they kept him on and made Uncle Jack the highest paid trucker in Canada, as he told me.
He was provided with a state of the art motor home, almost a block long, to attend all sports events, to promote Carling's Ale, which he did for a couple of years. Uncle Jack who hardly drank, didn't smoke, was in apparent great health, dropped permanently from a heart attack while mowing the lawn at the age of 51.
He told me at the height of his football career, he was paid $1,500. He said it was considered a part-time job, even though they played the same number of games as the present teams.
I remember him with fond memories. As an adult I had many visits to his home and we talked of life, love during a cool drink on a hot day. His pool was nice and cool too. I still miss him.
© Richard L. Provencher