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by Jeff Timson

OTTAWA - March 9, 2005  -  Canadian Curling Association President Barry Greenberg today announced five Hall of Fame inductees (one in the Curler/Builder category and four in the Media category), along with Volunteer of the Year and two recipients of the new President’s Award for the year 2004.

Leo Johnson of Winnipeg was named posthumously in the Curler/Builder category of the Hall of Fame, while Don ‘Buckets’ Fleming of Edmonton,  ‘Cactus’ Jack Wells (posthumously) of Winnipeg, Gordon Craig and Michael Burns of Toronto were named in the Media category.   The Volunteer of the Year Award winner was Delbert Comeau of Metaghan, Nova Scotia while Don and Elva Turner of Weyburn, Saskatchewan and Reg Caughie of St. John’s, Newfoundland were named recipients of the new President’s Award.

“On behalf of the selection committee, I’m pleased to announce the induction of five outstanding people to the Hall of Fame along with the Volunteer of the Year and two recipients of the President’s Award, ” said CCA President Barry Greenberg.  “The Hall of Fame inductees and the Volunteer Award winner are all extremely worthy while Reg Caughie’s 25-year dedication to being Brier Bear and Don and Elva Turner’s incredible museum in Weyburn have earned them a special acknowledgment.”

Leo Johnson of Winnipeg will be inducted as a curler/builder.  Johnson won the Brier for Manitoba in 1934.   Ten years later, he won the Manitoba championship but there was no Brier that year because of World War II.   Johnson returned to the Brier in 1946 and lost in a three-way playoff for the title, won by Billy Rose of Alberta.  In 1965, he won the inaugural Canadian Senior Men’s Championship and remains one of only two men (Jim Ursel is the other) to have won both the Brier and Seniors.  He also served 10 years on the Manitoba Curling Association’s Executive Council.

Michael Burns Sr. of Toronto first became famous for his thoroughbred horse racing photos, a career which earned him induction into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.  However, over the past 45 years he also became known as one of the world’s top photographers of curling.  His curling career behind the lens began with the Scotch Cup in 1959 and his photos of Ernie Richardson’s curling exploits ran in many newspapers around the world.  When Air Canada began its sponsorship of the Air Canada Silver Broom, Burns was retained to do photos for the event.  When Labatt Breweries took over sponsorship of the Brier from Macdonald Tobacco in 1980, Burns added the Canadian men’s curling championship to his resume.  It’s been estimated that, for all of these events, Burns has produced over 100,000 curling photos and images.

Toronto’s Gordon Craig got his television start in Winnipeg, when he opted to join CBC rather than continue his university courses.  It wasn’t long before he was moved to Toronto and into the TV Sports Department, where, soon after, he began to produce curling shows under a variety of titles.  In the 1960’s, he produced and directed CBC Championship Curling, introducing the game to TV audiences.

In 1968, Craig, as deputy head of CBC-TV Sports, was primarily responsible for obtaining the broadcast rights to the newly-minted Air Canada Silver Broom.  In the early 1980’s, he was recruited by Labatt Breweries as president of a new sports network, TSN and was instrumental in building it into a powerful sports entity.  …

One of Craig’s passions was curling and with his encouragement and direction, TSN provided wall-to-wall coverage of the Labatt/Nokia Brier, Scott Tournament of Hearts and Ford world championships.   He retired a few years ago as Chairman and CEO of TSN’s parent company, Netstar Communications, later to become part of CTV and Bell Globemedia.

Don Fleming was for many years the beloved and knowledgeable curling writer of the Edmonton Journal.  Fleming, better known as ‘Buckets’, started his curling reporting in the 1950’s and became known for his coverage of curling giants Matt Baldwin, Hector Gervais and other noted Northern Alberta shotmakers.  Before anyone thought of keeping game statistics to measure a curler’s shotmaking prowess, Fleming did.  For many years, he was the editor of NACA News, which provided coverage of curling in Northern Alberta.   A larger audience in all parts of the country also knew him, thanks to his writing in the Canadian Curling News, the national publication founded in 1957 by his Calgary friend Ted Thonger.

‘Cactus’ Jack Wells was a radio and television legend for nearly six decades, from 1941 until his death at 88 years of age in 1999.   His close association with the national curling scene began in 1952, when he covered his first Macdonald Brier.  In the years that followed, Wells became a curling fixture, reporting on provincial events in Manitoba, the Brier, the women’s Macdonald Lassie and the World Curling Championships.  While continuing his media career, Wells was appointed Head of Public Relations in Western Canada for Macdonald Tobacco in 1970.  He teamed with longtime associate Bill Good to serve as the guiding hands in creating the atmosphere which boosted the Brier and Lassie into major annual “happenings” on the Canadian sports calendar. 

Delbert Comeau of the Clare Curling Club in Metaghan, Nova Scotia is the recipient of the National Curling Club Volunteer of the Year Award for the 2004 season.  Comeau’s efforts in the summer prior to the 2003 – 2004 curling season were instrumental in completing major renovations which stopped serious physical deterioration of his club, helped install a furnace to heat the ice area and supervised the hosting of key events at the club during the 2004 Congres Mondiale Acadian.  Comeau has demonstrated exemplary devotion to the success of his curling club and its future.

Don and Elva Turner of Weyburn, Saskatchewan will receive the 2004 CCA President’s Award for their unique 30-year contribution to the sport of curling.   Curling is a way of life for the Turners, so it was not surprising when they developed their own curling museum in Weyburn.  The Turner collection features many rare, historical curling pieces, including one of the largest collections of pins in Canada.

Reg Caughie (Brier Bear) will also be presented with the 2004 CCA President’s Award.   Caughie has been the Brier mascot since 1981 in Halifax.   The life of the Bear began at the 1981 Brier as a promotion but has evolved into a permanent part of Brier entertainment, as Caughie celebrates his 25th year this week in Edmonton at the Tim Hortons Brier.    During Brier week, the Bear also visits schools to promote curling and children’s hospitals to brighten the lives of sick kids, making the mascot an invaluable tool in the promotion of curling.  In real life, Caughie is the manager of the St. John’s Curling Club in St. John’s, Newfoundland.  He also has a strong history in the sport of softball, having been inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Softball Hall of Fame. 

All of the award winners will be duly recognized with appropriate awards and certificates. 

Warren Hansen
Jeff Timson
Canadian Curling Association

Tel/fax: 905-881-8322
jeff@curling.ca or jtimson5213@rogers.com


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