Still on stride
Venerable Bay Roberts businessman going strong, on and off the ice
If Boyd Morgan of Bay Roberts has a problem, it’s that he tends to forget his age, especially when he’s on the ice at the Bay Arena.
In theory, he knows he’s reached a certain number of years, but in practice, his mind recoils from any thought of sitting back and twiddling his thumbs because of his advanced age.
“Most of the time, I forget I’m 80 when I’m out there (on the ice),” says the well-known businessman.
Which is why his teammates say, almost in unison, “I hope I have the same ability to skate as he has does when I reach his age.” Hockey supplanted by career Morgan was born in Coley’s Point in 1930. At 18, he moved to St. John’s and worked as a junior with the Bank of Nova Scotia. A few months later, the bank shipped him off to Clarenville, where he tended on customers from the old-fashioned, glass-enclosed “cage.”
Leaving the bank, Morgan relocated to Toronto and worked as an office clerk with an appliance business. A year later, he was back in St. John’s, employed with an engineering company as a bookkeeper.
One further move: To Birch Hills, Bay Roberts, in 1957. He and his brother, Fraser, started Morgan’s Furniture, which has been a fixture in the region ever since. Today, two of Boyd’s sons, Scott and Perry, run the business, though their father hasn’t officially retired.
Skating was a big thing when Morgan was growing up. He played pond hockey, then advanced to an outdoor venue — Jack North’s Rink — in Bay Roberts. He played with the Coley’s Point team on the forward line.
Despite his love for the game, hockey fell by the wayside and he didn’t pick it up again until he was transferred to Clarenville. The story of his involvement with the game in Clarenville is best told in the book, Hockey Quest: History of Hockey in Clarenville.
“It was the fall and winter of 1948-49 that I came across a hockey stick down at Duffitt’s soft drink plant,” Morgan writes. “I borrowed it and went down by the Flintcote Company on Random Sound just for a skate.
“ There I met and made a few friends. Over a bottle of orange pop at Peter Cholock’s Restaurant, I convinced some of my friends to find a place to play a little hockey.
“ We found what looked like a fair frozen surface down at the bottom of a friend’s back garden. We had lots of fun on that sheet of ice. First we used rocks for goal posts and later we had some type of frame, less the netting, of course.”
Morgan’s hockey interests were again relegated to the back burner as he and his brother worked to establish their business on Birch Hills. But after about 30 years away from the game he loved, he picked up his skates and stick again around about the time he turned 60.
“I went to the rink and got a couple of games in. I haven’t stopped since,” he says.
Now, at noon on Mondays and Fridays, he takes to the ice with his mates. But he’s very modest about it all.
“It’s just a group of people that get together for relaxation and a game.”
Age limit is not a consideration. Darren Morgan of Port de Grave is 30. Scott Akerman of Bay Roberts is 40. Albert Dawe of Clarke’s Beach is 48. Perry Morgan, Boyd’s son, is 52. Gus French of Bay Roberts is 56. And Henry Deering of Shearstown is 71.
Morgan says his age is irrelevant. He loses all sense of age when he straps on the skates and picks up the hockey stick.
The games he plays are not for the weak of heart, either physically or mentally. Morgan’s son, Perry, occasionally bumps his father on the ice. However, the younger man is cautious when describing such encounters. “ Mom wouldn’t like that,” he quips. A great sport Boyd is an inspiration to his teammates. Scott Akerman calls the senior man “an icon for this sport around here.” Darren Morgan says, “he still scores a scattered goal,” and Gus French notes, “it’s no trouble for him to put the puck in the net.”
Henry Deering describes Boyd as “a great sport.”
Albert Dawe, who works in geriatrics, offers a unique perspective: “I think it’s pretty remarkable that someone like Mr. Morgan, 80 years old, can get out and do the things he’s doing. Some people are in nursing homes, unable to move, long before they’re 80.”
Morgan’s favourite hockey team used to be the Maple Leafs. Today, the Boston Bruins compete with the Leafs as favourites, largely because Bonavista’s Michael Ryder is on the team.
“I watch hockey every chance I get,” he says. “ Whichever team the Newfoundland boys are on, I like looking at it. I don’t dwell on who won or lost. I watch (Michael) Ryder a lot and I like the way he shoots the puck.”
Morgan has strong personal feelings about today’s hockey.
“ Salary wise, I think it’s gone too far,” he opines. “But hockey wise, you need more training and bodybuilding to stay in there. The game’s fast and rough. The one thing I don’t like are the concussions players are getting. I don’t think that’s necessary. You can play the game without that.”
Hockey and music are Morgan’s two favourite activities.
Boyd and his son, Perry, play fiddle and guitar, respectively, and perform bluegrass and country music at the Lion’s Club in Bay Roberts once monthly. The amazing thing? Boyd didn’t learn to play the instrument until he was about 70.
Music runs in the family. Three sons — Cory, Blair and Scott — perform as part of the wellknown Gospel trio, the Morgan Brothers.
Boyd used to collect antique cars, including a 1919 Studebaker touring car, 1924 Ford Model T, 1930 Chev and 1931 Ford Model A. Because they took up so much room in his basement, he gave three of them away for the modest sum of $1,500.
In the late 1960s, Boyd tried his hand as a portraitist. He’s been known to farm. He owns a motorcycle. He works in the garden. He and his wife, Betty, take relaxing walks. What does he get out of it? “I get exercise out of it. I get the camaraderie of meeting folks, sitting around chatting,” he declares.
Yes, he’s tired when he gets home, especially after a hockey game, “ but it’s a great tiredness, a great feeling,” he says.
“I’m so energized I feel good and I’m ready to go again the next day, if I had to.”
Photo by Burton K. Janes/Special to The Compass Boyd Morgan smiles proudly before the start of a pick-up game of hockey at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts recently.