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2005: Scott Young, the dean of Canadian sports writing, dies

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Over six decades and some 40 books Scott Young was a fixture of the Canadian literary landscape. Boasting a journalistic style that was both hard-nosed and self-deprecating, Young rose to fame in the 1950s as a hockey commentator for CBC Television where he honed his laconic personality and wit.
In this CBC Radio clip, Peter Gzowski chats with Young about how the budding bicycle thief transformed himself into the dean of Canadian sports writing.

Scott Young died on June 12, 2005, in Kingston, Ont., following a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 87.
• Scott Young was born on April 14, 1918, in Cypress River, Man. His father, Percy Young, was a druggist and part-time baseball player. His mother, Jean Ferguson Paterson, was a schoolteacher. Young was raised in nearby Glenboro, where his father owned and operated a drug store.
• In 1926, Young's father declared bankruptcy. The family -- which included Young, his brother Bob and sister Dorothy -- were moved to Winnipeg where his father got a job as a pharmacist at a Hudson's Bay store.

• In 1931, a few days before Young's 13th birthday, his father left his family. Young and his siblings were sent to live with various relatives.
• Eventually Young and his siblings were reunited with their mother in Winnipeg, where they lived in a series of boarding houses and apartments throughout the Depression.

• Young graduated from high school in 1934. In 1936, he had his first story published in the Winnipeg Free Press Magazine, for which he was paid $3. Shortly after, he began working as an evening copy boy at the Free Press, where he was soon promoted to junior sports reporter.
• Scott Young worked with the Canadian Press during the 1940s, editing copy and filing stories on curling. He was a war correspondent for CP from 1942 to 1943.

• After the war Young worked as an editor at Maclean's magazine. He quit in 1948 to focus on writing short stories, which were published in Collier's, Saturday Evening Post and Ladies Home Journal.

• A U.S. publisher read some of Young's short stories and suggested he try his hand at youth fiction. The result was Scrubs on Skates (1952), the first in a trilogy of popular youth novels based on Young's experience's playing hockey in Winnipeg.
• Journalist and writer Roy McGregor has credited Young's hockey books as inspiration for his popular Screech Owls series of hockey adventure novels.

• In 1957, Young returned to journalism as a daily columnist for the Globe and Mail, eventually returning to the sports beat. Over the next three decades he covered numerous Grey Cups, World Series, Stanley Cups and Olympic Games. He even appeared as an intermission commentator on Hockey Night in Canada, in the same spot that Don Cherry would later call his own.
• Young was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a media honouree in 1988.

• Young was married three times and had seven children and stepchildren. During his first marriage, to Edna (Rassy) Ragland, his son Neil Percy Young was born. Though the couple would divorce before Neil was 10, the two maintained a strong father-son relationship throughout their lives.

• In 1984, Scott Young wrote the best-selling memoir Neil and Me. The book is considered a rare look into his son's very private life.
• Neil Young has credited his father for helping stoke his musical abilities by buying him a ukulele as a Christmas present.

• Though Scott Young is often remembered for his sports writing (and his famous son), he enjoyed wide success as an author. He published more than 40 books, most of them sports history and biographies including the mystery novels Murder in a Cold Climate (1988) and The Shaman's Knife (1996).
Medium: Radio
Program: Morningside
Broadcast Date: Nov. 16, 1994
Guest(s): Scott Young
Host: Peter Gzowski
Duration: 9:04

Last updated: June 12, 2012

Page consulted on May 26, 2014

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