A father's foresight 0
Don Cherry. (REUTERS FILE)
Some kids are grateful to their fathers for passing on a love of a favourite sport; others credit their father with a strong work ethic. One notable Canadian says he cherishes numerous words of wisdom from his father and inherited a truly unique fashion sense.
"I learned to dress sharp from my dad," says hockey icon Don Cherry. His father, Del Cherry, was a strapping man: 6-foot-two and 230 lbs. "He had made-to-measure clothes that fit him like a glove," says his son. A master electrician and a formidable baseball player, he wore a watch chain, stick pin, silk scarf with his initials and a homburg - a men's felt hat with a narrow curled brim and a tapered crown with a lengthwise indentation.
"He always told me, 'Your word is your bond and you are only as good as your handshake.' That got me into a lot of trouble," says Cherry. "When I got fired by Boston, the Colorado Rockies -- the worst team in the league -- contacted me and I agreed to coach them."
Several days later, Cherry learned the Toronto Maple Leafs wanted him behind their bench and would offer him more money and a longer contract. "I had to turn him down because I had shaken hands with the Rockies," he says.
"That was 1979 and the Leafs had a really good team ... But things work out for the best -- Colorado never made the playoffs and that's when I got picked up for CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. Listening to my father didn't feel so good when I was coaching Colorado but it sure did when I got on Coach's Corner."
Other fatherly advice: "He said, 'It's better to be shot for a wolf than a lamb.' What he meant is that if you're going to go, go all the way," says Cherry. "Just before he died, he made me a wooden sign that says, 'God is your strength and God is your might.' I still have it and look at it every day."
Other notable Canadians share the best advice or words of wisdom they received from their fathers:
Alexandre Bilodeau was the first Canadian to win an Olympic gold medal at home. "My father always told me growing up that to be the best in what you do in life, it's super easy," says the Quebec native. "You just need to work harder than everybody else. Still today, these words are helping me to push my limits in whatever I do."
Man in Motion Rick Hansen was paralyzed him from the waist down as the result of an accident at age 15. He went on to become one of Canada's most decorated Paralympic athletes. His father's best advice: "Work hard, enjoy your success and never forget who you are or where you come from."
Governor General David Johnston. "My father had a well-developed and frequently practised sense of humour," he says. "I like to think I inherited it from him. It served me well, not only while raising my daughters but also throughout my career."
Astronaut Chris Hadfield will be the next Canadian astronaut in space and the first to command the International Space Station. "My Dad is not chatty," says the Sarnia, Ont., native. "He taught me through example; a restless necessity to be productive. He has worked an eight-hour day, seven days a week, for his whole life and loved every minute. Some words of wisdom that I will never forget: 'You broke it, so now let me show you how to fix it'; 'Don't be a sneak'; 'Learn to see the difference between a 1/2 and a 9/16ths'; and "Give your children a lasting bequest - roots and wings."
Mary Jo Haddad, president and CEO of The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ont., remembers her late father, Joseph Haddad. "Dad was full of little gems and words of wisdom, and he had a great sense of humour. He always encouraged me to work hard and said if I did my best, life would be good to me and it truly is."
University of Toronto president David Naylor. "My father told endless stories, often with an implicit lesson, but seldom gave me advice. His firmest direction concerned my wife, Dr. Ilse Treurnicht, whom he adored," he says.
"In 1986, Dad was diagnosed with an incurable illness but was in remission long enough for Ilse and me to do some travelling. Ilse had gone ahead to South Africa to work for a few weeks. As I left for the airport to join her, Dad said, uncharacteristically: 'Just make sure you bring Ilse back with you.' Ilse and I returned with a new family member pending. The old man survived to play with his first grandchild, now a medical student. And Dr. Treurnicht went on to help create and lead the MaRS Discovery District here in Toronto. Good advice, all things considered!"