Still on stride

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY BUR­TON K. JANES

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.

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