About Brian

 

BIOGRAPHY

Introduction of Brian McFarlane

by his  daughter, Brenda McFarlane.  (Photo: Brian and Bobby Orr)

I am writing this on behalf of my Dad in order to give you a different perspective of him.

He was born on August 10, 1931 in New Liskeard, Ontario.  He is a Leo.

His mother’s name was Amy Arnold. Her parents  immigrated from England.

Amy married later than many women, 31, to a somewhat younger man, Leslie McFarlane, my grandfather.  She had the misfortune of marrying a writer with no steady income and this made her develop skills as a budget master.  She did not approve of alcohol and this was always an issue between her and my grandfather.  My father, influenced by his mother, did not have a drink until he graduated from college.   She died much too young of throat  cancer when my dad was in his early 20’s.

My grandfather, Leslie McFarlane is best known as the first ghost writer of the Hardy Boys books and established the characters and flavor of the books that followed.  He received a flat fee ($100) for each of the first 21 books he wrote in the series–and no royalties. With royalties he would have been a millionaire. I highly recommend reading his biography and autobiography. He went on to write novels, radio and TV plays for the CBC. He wrote and directed films for the National Film Board (one documentary was nominated for an academy award) and he moved to Hollywood late in life to write for Bonanza.

Dad grew up with two beautiful sisters, an older sister Patricia and a younger sister Norah.  Norah Perez  is a successful novelist.   Patricia McCauley who was  also a creative person and a former model,  passed away suddenly at age 51.

Dad says he was a good student initially–until high school–when playing hockey distracted him.  I grew up hearing stories of him playing pond hockey most of his childhood.

Early life and career

He played Junior A hockey for the Inkerman Rockets starting when he was 17. As team captain and leading scorer, in 1951 he led Inkerman to the Eastern Canada playoffs against the Quebec Citadelles and their great star Jean Beliveau. Quebec won handily.

He received a hockey scholarship at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, at the age of 19, graduating in 1955. He received many honors during his years at St. Lawrence. He was on the Dean’s list for academics, class president for three years, captain of the hockey team, treasurer of the student body, and several honorary societies. In his four years, despite injuries which curtailed his ice time, he scored 101 goals for the Skating Saints, which, after 55 years, remains a St. Lawrence record. So do his ten career hat tricks.  On three occasions, he scored five goals in a game, a school record shared with a few others.

He supervised the dining hall in the freshman cafeteria for four years which paid for his room and board. He met my mother (Joan Pellet, Hillsdale, N.J.) on their first day at St. Lawrence.

After graduating, he became a sportscaster on television at WRGB in Schenectady, New York, was married there before moving to Toronto and a position with CFRB radio, Canada’s number one station. He moved to CFCF-TV in Montreal as sports director and then back to CFTO-TV in Toronto, Ontario. He has enjoyed a career in broadcasting and journalism that spans more than 50 years–and is not yet over.

National Hockey League broadcasting

My father is perhaps best known as a commentator on Hockey Night in Canada for 25 years. He made similar broadcasts on NHL games for the major American networks CBS and NBC and has written more than 60 books on hockey. He is an expert on hockey history and has compiled several volumes of NHL lore titled, “It Happened in Hockey”, as well as a 1999 series detailing the colorful history of the Original Six NHL teams. His memoirs, published by Stoddart Publishing in 2000, are entitled, “Brian McFarlane’s World of Hockey”.

My father was also a color commentator on Toronto Maple Leafs local telecasts until 1980, when he made on-air comments that were critical of Leafs’ owner Harold Ballard. He was subsequently banned from the Maple Leaf Gardens broadcast booth. Hockey Night in Canada had him commute to Winnipeg and Montreal as host of NHL games for the next eight seasons.

In 1970 my father created the Scotiabank Hockey College and served the bank as Dean of the Hockey College program for 17 years, working with spokesmen like Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau, Howie Meeker and Darryl Sittler.

He also, at one time in the sixties, owned the Montreal Canadiens professional lacrosse team in the National Lacrosse League.

He is the honorary president of SIHR (Society for International Hockey Research).

Peter Puck connection

My father, when he was with NBC in 1973, was also involved in the creation of the cartoon character Peter Puck. After the network stopped carrying NHL hockey, he purchased the rights to Peter Puck from NBC’s production partner, Hanna-Barbera.

Personal life

In semi-retirement, my parents created and ran the Brian McFarlane Hockey Museum, located initially in Colborne, Ontario, and then for several years in Niagara Falls.

In 2006, they were persuaded to move the McFarlane hockey collection to the Municipality of Clarington, as part of Total Hockey, a multi-media, interactive museum located at the Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex in Bowmanville, Ontario.

My father played hockey for the NHL (Ontario) Oldtimers for 25 years, performing with and against such Hall of Famers as Cyclone Taylor (age 90), Wayne Gretzky (age 12), Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Rocket Richard, Bobby Hull, Mario Lemieux and many others. He still plays hockey in Florida three times a week.

He has been a humorous speaker and MC at hundreds of banquets and charity events. In his free time, he paints landscapes in oil and acrylics. An example of his original hockey works from my collection is depicted at the top of the home page.

My parents currently reside in the Toronto area and in Naples, Florida. They have three children (Michael, Lauren and me) and six grandchildren– who are amazing people.   And each one grew up played hockey.

Achievements

* 1995 inducted into the media section of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

* Admitted into the Ontario Sports Legends Hall of Fame.

* Admitted into the Ottawa Sports Legends Hall of Fame.

* Admitted into the Whitby Sports Hall of Fame.

* Admitted into the St. Lawrence University Hall of Fame.

* Winner of the Sports Media Canada Award in 2008

* Song writer: Clear the Track, Here Comes Shack