That is the presence of Summerside native and radio play-by-play announcer Don Cameron.
“There were a couple of years in the course of the 50 years that another station had the (broadcasting) contract,” explained Cameron, who will turn 77 on April 16. “While they had it I was doing the PA (public address announcing), still doing reports and still basically covering them. The Rangers came to Kitchener in 1963, and I was there waiting for them.”
Cameron spent the first 21 years of his life in Summerside.
“I still miss it,” he said. “I still think of the Island very often, and in particular Summerside.
“Growing up were some of the greatest years of my life with things like going to St. Paul’s Church, going to Summerside High School, it was a lot of fun, and playing baseball with the Curran and Briggs team.
“I was not a very good hockey player, a little better baseball player but still the fourth outfielder. They tried me at infield, but it was better to be an outfielder.”
Cameron got his start in broadcasting at CJRW, where he “learned all aspects of broadcasting” under the late Bob Schurman.
“Bob, at that time, was the owner-manager of the station,” explained Cameron. “It was with him that I started doing play-by-play of the Summerside Aces’ senior hockey team.
“Bob was doing the games and, as (station) manager as well, it was good that he could get somebody else to help out. That is where I cut my teeth as play-by-play because he (Schurman) let me go ahead and do it, stumble around, make my mistakes and grow into the game.”
Cameron then took a job as a “general announcer” in St. Catharines, Ont. However, Cameron noted legendary sportscaster Rex Stimers took a liking to him, and he got an opportunity to work St. Catharines Teepees’ games. The Teepees featured players such as Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita.
After working in St. Catharines for about a year, an opportunity opened up for a radio broadcaster with the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen senior hockey team.
“I went up and auditioned and did a game for them, and they said, ‘OK, you get the job,’” explained Cameron. “The team went on to the Olympics in 1960. I didn’t do the play-by-play, but I travelled with them to Squaw Valley, California, and they ended up with a silver medal. That was kind of the end of senior hockey.
“I did not plan on doing 50 years of broadcasting with the Rangers, but it just happened that way. There were some applications to NHL and AHL teams, and in some cases it was close and in some cases it was best that I not make what would have been probably a lateral move. It just worked out that when I retired from radio and television I was given the opportunity to freelance and continue to do the play-by-play. That’s exactly what I do now as I reach the twilight of a mediocre career!” - Kitchener Rangers radio announcer Don Cameron
“The juniors were on the horizon. They didn’t come right away. We ended up with minor pro hockey, and the juniors came in ’63. As they say, the rest is history.
“I did not plan on doing 50 years of broadcasting with the Rangers, but it just happened that way. There were some applications to NHL and AHL teams, and in some cases it was close and in some cases it was best that I not make what would have been probably a lateral move.
“It just worked out that when I retired from radio and television I was given the opportunity to freelance and continue to do the play-by-play. That’s exactly what I do now as I reach the twilight of a mediocre career!”
Cameron’s career has been anything but mediocre, and it’s safe to say he has seen lots of changes in both broadcasting and hockey. He referred to the early days of having to deal with telephone lines not working from rinks to today’s modern technology. And for the hockey?
“The stars of 1960s and 1970s would be stars today,” said Cameron. “There is no question about that.
“I think it’s the secondary players who have improved their game because they are bigger, stronger and overall better skaters than say the third and fourth liners were so many years ago. The game, in many ways, has improved for the better.
“Some of the rules they have put in are on the chincy side, but that’s another story for another time. The game, overall, has progressed where it’s big business.”
As for his future, Cameron says he is taking it “day by day, month by month, year by year” while adding he hasn’t lost any enthusiasm over the years.
“Game day is the greatest day of the week,” said Cameron. “I like to get to the rink early, get the feel of it.
“I like to get into the Ranger dressing room, find out who’s playing, who’s not playing and start with the empty building, and before you know it’s all filled up. Then you have 2 1/2 hours of great hockey.”
Jason Simmonds is the sports editor of the Journal Pioneer. The “Islanders Away” feature appears every Thursday. To suggest an “Islander Away” please do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.