Tourism pioneer Head­ing dies

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - News@cb­

SYD­NEY — A pioneer in Cape Bre­ton’s tourism in­dus­try has died.

Gor­don Head­ing, whose ca­reer be­gan in the floor­ing business be­fore he went on to buy and run sev­eral ho­tels across the is­land, died Fri­day at his home in Syd­ney.

Af­ter open­ing Floor and Wall Dec­o­ra­tors in the early 1960s, Head­ing first ven­tured into tourism when he bought the Wand­lyn Mo­tel in Syd­ney. He later ei­ther owned, part­nered in, or op­er­ated ac­com­mo­da­tions like the Vista Ho­tel, the Best Western Cape Bre­toner, Cape Bre­ton High­land Bun­ga­lows and the Cabot Trail Mo­tel.

His niece, Cathy Lamey, took over the Cabot Trail Mo­tel out­side Bad­deck five years ago, af­ter Head­ing re­tired. She called her un­cle a “great men­tor,” say­ing he al­ways put Cape Bre­ton be­fore any of his busi­nesses.

“One of the things that Un­cle Gor­don al­ways used to say is — be­cause I started my ca­reer in tourism do­ing trade shows; he walked me through that big, scary world of trade shows — and I al­ways re­mem­ber he said ‘Cathy, peo­ple do not come to Cape Bre­ton to see you, they come to Cape Bre­ton to see Cape Bre­ton, so we want them across the cause­way. We sell Cape Bre­ton.’ Any time Gor­don was at any show, or he was out in the pub­lic, he was sell­ing Cape Bre­ton Is­land as a des­ti­na­tion — it wasn’t about his prop­er­ties, it was about ‘Come visit us.’”

Adrian White, CEO of Syd­ney and Area Cham­ber of Com­merce, said Head­ing was in­ducted into the Cape Bre­ton Business and Phi­lan­thropy Hall of Fame last year for a ”long list of ac­com­plish­ments dur­ing a very event­ful business ca­reer.”

In ad­di­tion to the name­sake floor­ing store his son now op­er­ates on Kings Road, Head­ing was one of the ar­chi­tects of tourism ad­vo­cacy in Nova Sco­tia. He helped form the Tourism In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion of Nova Sco­tia and was in­stru­men­tal in sev­eral pro­vin­cial ini­tia­tives like cre­at­ing the stan­dard­ized grad­ing sys­tem for ac­com­mo­da­tions that later in­spired the na­tional Canada Se­lect rat­ings. He was also a found­ing mem­ber and past pres­i­dent of the Cape Bre­ton Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion and, along­side his late wife, Elsie, was an in­au­gu­ral in­ductee into the Cape Bre­ton Tourism Hall of Fame in 2009.

“He was a busy guy and a gen­tle soul,” said White.

Lamey, who is pres­i­dent of the Bad­deck and Area Business and Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion, said her un­cle was so well-re­spected be­cause he al­ways tried to help peo­ple.

“There are so many peo­ple that I talk to to­day who say ‘Oh my God, I worked for Gor­don,’ or ‘That was my first job, work­ing for Gor­don.’ He so left his mark in tourism but when you turn around and look at all the peo­ple he’s in­flu­enced, it’s pretty amaz­ing.”

Ac­cord­ing to his obit­u­ary, Head­ing is sur­vived by four chil­dren, as well as sev­eral grand­chil­dren and great-grand­chil­dren.

In ad­di­tion to his wife, he was pre­de­ceased by a daugh­ter, grand­daugh­ter and two sib­lings.

Visi­ta­tion is sched­uled to take place at Syd­ney Memorial Chapel on Thurs­day from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. A cel­e­bra­tion of life ser­vice will be held in the fu­neral home chapel Fri­day at 2 p.m.


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