In celebration of Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey Association’s 50th anniversary, a section of road leading to the ice rink in Maple Ridge where many youth practice and play will be renamed Jim Robson Way.
What is currently 105 Avenue, from Lougheed Highway to the traffic circle by Tamarack Lane, is to officially be renamed after Robson at the end of January, when a host of events are scheduled and which Robson will attend to commemorate the anniversary.
A city staff report for Tuesday, Dec. 5 recommends that renaming the section of 105 Avenue to “Jim Robson Way” be approved.
“This is a project that we have had in the works since 2016, and the opportunity to do the dedication ceremony with B.C. broadcasting legend Jim Robson as part of the celebration of the Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey Association’s 50th anniversary celebration on January 27, 2018 seems like the perfect fit,” said Mayor Nicole Read.
“We are so proud to be able to formally announce this tribute. Jim Robson is an incredible ambassador for our community and was one of the first Maple Ridge citizens inducted as part of the ‘Home Town Hero’ program. Beyond that, he was the voice of hockey for British Columbia and every broadcaster working today cites Mr. Robson as a role model. Planet Ice is the home of hockey in Maple Ridge and it seems fitting that the way to our arenas will soon be known as Jim Robson Way.”
The city proposed renaming the road and approached minor hockey about co-ordinating efforts, said Derek Gullmes, RMMHA vice-president.
“He’s a legend in the sports world,” Gullmes said of Robson, a Maple Ridge secondary graduate.
“Having him be part of the celebration is great.”
Robson was humbled by the honour.
“I have such fond memories of growing up in this community,” he said. “I was concerned that they were naming a street after me when there were so many incredible athletes that have come from Maple Ridge that surely I shouldn’t be a priority. I was reminded that the city has the Greg Moore Youth Centre, Cam Neely Arena at Planet Ice, Larry Walker Park in Hammond and has recently dedicated the Karina LeBlanc Field at Merkely Park. My wife told me to shut up and say thank you, so that’s what I’m doing.”
Robson was born in 1935, in Prince Albert, Sask. His family moved to British Columbia when he was nine years old. They lived on Barnston Island for eight months before moving to Maple Ridge.
From 1944 to June 1952, he lived on a small farm on what was 15th Avenue, off Dewdney Trunk Road. He attended Alexander Robinson elementary, then on Dewdney Trunk, then Maple Ridge secondary, from which he graduated, as valedictorian, in 1952.
He was briefly a sports reporter for The Gazette.
At 17, Robson started covering senior men’s basketball for CJAV radio station in Port Alberni. In 1955, he started working for CHUB radio in Nanaimo, where he covered the Mann Cup lacrosse finals.
By 1956, Robson started covering the B.C. Lions, the Vancouver Mounties baseball team, then WHL’s Vancouver Canucks hockey team on CKWX.
When the Vancouver Canucks became an NHL expansion team in 1970, Robson moved to CKNW to announce the team’s games. He remained the voice of the Canucks for nearly three decades.
For the first seven years, he mostly worked alone. For road games, he broadcast the game without a colour commentator and provided the pre-game, intermission, and post-game shows.
In 1977–78, he was joined by former B.C. Lions player and broadcaster Tom Larscheid. He also worked alongside ex-Canuck Garry Monahan.
Robson also covered the Vancouver Canucks on television broadcasts on BCTV, CHEK-TV and VTV throughout his career.
Robson also worked for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, mostly covering games in western Canada. It was for HNIC that he broadcast the Canucks’ first NHL game, a 3–1 home loss to the Los Angeles Kings on October 9, 1970.
His covered the Stanley Cup Finals in 1975, 1980, 1982 (in which the Canucks faced the New York Islanders), and 1983.
Robson’s most memorable call came during the 1994 playoffs, in Game 6, when he said about then Canucks captain Trevor Linden, who had struggled to the bench after getting high-sticked and knocked down: “He will play. You know he’ll play. He’ll play on crutches. He will play. And he will play at Madison Square Garden … ”
Game 7 was his last radio broadcast. Robson stepped down as the radio announcer for the Canucks in 1994 and moved to television full-time.
Robson was also well known for taking time to say “a special hello to all the hospital patients and shut-ins, those of you who can’t make it out to the game,” during each broadcast.
Robson retired in April 1999 and now lives near False Creek in Vancover with his wife, Bea.
Robson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992, the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998 and the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.
In 2002, he was selected to the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
The broadcast booth at Rogers Arena in Vancouver is named after him.
Now so is a street in Maple Ridge.
Also part of RMMHA’s 50th anniversary celebrations, and to assist the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society, it will host former Canuck defenseman Dave Babych at Haney Place Mall for an autograph and photo session on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 2-6 p.m.
The association also had a special logo and third jersey made up for the anniversary, and plans to honour alumni who have gone on the play professionally, from Cam Neely, Brendan Morrison and Andrew Ladd to Brad Hunt, Victor Bartley, Patrick Wiercoich and Brandon Yip.
The jersey, with gold trim, arrived this past week and RMMHA teams are now wearing them.
“So far the feedback has been incredibly positive,” Gullmes said of the special edition jersey.
Further celebrations are planned for Saturday, Jan. 27, all day and evening at Planet Ice, on Jim Robson Way.
Gullmes said teams from the association, and the Meadowridge Barracudas will play back-to-back games throughout the day at Planet Ice. The association is working with NHL alumni to be part of the event, which will be capped with a game featuring the local junior B team, the Ridge Meadows Flames, and the Langley Trappers, 7:30 p.m.
Robson is to drop the puck for a ceremonial faceoff to start that game.
“I’m thrilled that this will be part of the 50th anniversary of the Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey Association. I remember when the Centennial Arena was built 50 years ago and I am proud of the association that has produced eight NHL players and of the fact that the Stanley Cup has come to Maple Ridge three times, twice with Andrew Ladd and once with Cam Neely, as president of the Boston Bruins. Maple Ridge should be very proud of its hockey history.”
Gullmes is looking forward to what should be an exciting day.
“We want to pack the house to celebrate our 50th anniversary and B.C. broadcasting legend Jim Robson,” he said.
Further to the 50th anniversary celebrations, the association is raising money for the Jim Lindsay Memorial Fund, created last year and awarded to a graduating player.
Lindsay was a long-time coach and volunteer with the association, serving on the committee that developed the moniker ‘Rustlers,’ and helped develop the traditions of red leather sleeves on the midget A1 team jackets.
Teams in the association are currently selling raffle tickets to raise money for the fund. One prize, donated by Lindsay’s family, is a rail travel package.
Raffle tickets will be sold at the annual Rustlers Winter Round-up, Dec. 27 to 30 – featuring teams in initiation levels 2-4, as well as atom A and C – and at a new event Jan. 3-6, called the Jim Lindsay Midget Tournament.
From the Maple Ridge Museum: This poem was written by a young Jim Robson (May 14, 1950), who would grow into one of Canada’s top sports reporters and commentators. He has captured with amazing skill the atmosphere and spirit of the first league baseball game held a week prior in Pete Telosky’s new Haney Baseball Stadium.
OPENING DAY AT PETE’S PARK
By Jim Robson
‘Twas a glorious day, how the band did play,
And the sun shone down so bright.
Though the paint was wet, everything was set,
A really wonderful sight.
A few fans roared, when Hammond had scored
In inning number one.
This was only a few, as most of them knew,
The fun had just begun.
That Cliffy was fast, how I hoped it would last,
And Merv wasn’t doin’ so bad.
Our Pete was all smiles, the fans stood in aisles,
As each team gave all they had.
One man was on base, in this tight scoring race
When a youngster stepped up to the plate.
It made your spine tingle to see that boy single,
There’s a kid that surely does rate.
A towering fly ball went back to the wall
And then some, as over she sailed.
Oh, My! What a roar, as he came in to score,
The fans just hollered and wailed.
That gave Chuck a lead as in came Reid,
Though Minty was doing so well.
Things went just fine, till round number nine,
And then the roof she fell;
A hit plus a walk, then the crowd did talk,
As up came a rookie named Clent.
The bases were full, o’er the park was a lull,
Then into right field it went.
The score was even, as fans stopped leavin’
Oh, who would win the game?
The innings went by. Would it end in a tie?
As Cliffy kept peggin’ the same.
Yes, it came to a stop, with Hammond on top,
In Haney they almost cried.
Our Cliffy had won, his best he had done,
He was “Mill-town’s” glory and pride.
But the tops of them all, is a guy with a drawl,
He’s Pete! That guy with a grin.
HANEY, listen to me, I’ve just got one plea:
Be champions just for him.