A who's who from Campbellton

Politicians, singers and hockey players all have called Campbellton New Brunswick home

Politicians, singers and hockey players all have called Campbellton New Brunswick home

Quebec Premier Rene Levesque tries to hush supporters at a Parti Quebecois rally in Montreal, Nov.15, 1976, following his party's victory over the Liberal party of Robert Bourassa in the provincial election. Levesque was born in Campbellton. (Canadian Press)

Can you name the Campbelltonian – as those who were born here are called – who rose to prominence on the provincial and federal political stages?

Time's up.

Would you believe it’s Rene Levesque, the same man who came oh so close to ripping Canada apart?

It's a little known fact that the founder of the separatist Parti Quebecois was born at the Hotel Dieux Hospital in Campbellton. He was raised 133 kilometres down the Gaspe coast in New Carlisle.

You won't find a statue honouring the one and only Campbelltonian who had a profound impact on Canada anywhere in this city on the southern banks of the Restigouche River, probably because Levesque was raised down the Gaspe coast.

But while Levesque is arguably the most famous person born in this city in northern New Brunswick, there are others who have gone on to fame and sometimes fortune.

Before Levesque, there was J.C. "Charlie" Van Horne, a Stetson-wearing politician who ran for the provincial Progressive Conservative party leadership and lost to the flamboyant Richard Hatfield.  The bridge that connects Campbellton to Point-a-la-Croix, Que., is called the J.C. Van Horne Bridge.

Then there's Jimmy Munson, the son of a United Church minister who became the Director of Communications for Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Munson is now a member of the federal Senate.

There is also Chuck Guite who was raised in Campbellton and gained notoriety for being the kingpin in the federal Liberal party sponsorship scandal. He served time and was recently released.

The corridors of power aren’t the only stage where Campbelltonians made a name for themselves.

From New York to LA

Remember the 1970s hit disco song "From New York to LA"? It was sung by Patsy Gallant, who was born and raised in Campbellton and became an international recording star after she moved to Montreal.

Another Gallant – Tom, who was no relation to the disco queen – had gained notoriety on the Canadian arts landscape as a poet, playwright and singer when tragedy struck and his wife ended up in a coma as the result of a traffic accident. When she awoke, she had no memory of who she was and who he was. Theirs was a love facing the greatest of challenges.  Gallant wrote an award-winning book about redemption conferred by accepting the hardest things in life with an open heart.

If there is one stage where Campbelltonians have risen above the pack, it is sports.

Perhaps the most famous Campbelltonian is Peter Maher, who has been the radio voice of the Flames since the franchise moved to Calgary from Atlanta in 1980. He was named the winner of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in 2006 and is in the broadcast section of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

After playing seven seasons with the Campbellton Tigers, Bill Miller joined the Montreal Maroons in 1934-35. He played 22 games and had three goals and the Maroons went on to win the Stanley Cup that spring, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs in three straight games.

The following year, Miller was part of one of the biggest trades of that era. He was part of a deal in which he, Toe Blake and Ken Grivel were traded by the Maroons to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for goaltender Lorne Chabot. Miller completed the final 17 games of the year with the Habs, scoring a goal and two assists.

In 1936-37 Miller dressed for all 48 games with the Canadiens, scoring three goals and four points.

Philadelphia Flyers coach John Stevens was born in Campbellton but moved away when he was a toddler.

In a recent interview with the weekly paper, The Tribune, Stevens recalled returning to his birthplace for the first time in two decades a couple of years ago. "We stayed at Sugarloaf Park and we all spoke about how beautiful it is there. Yes it's a bit of a remote part of the Maritimes but well worth the travel."

Corey Larose had the proverbial cup of coffee in the NHL, playing 7 games for the New York Rangers in 2003-04. His claim to fame is that his only NHL point was an assist on Mark Messier's last goal in the NHL on March 31, 2004.

Bill Dickie was a standout college goalie who played one game with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1942.

Allain Roy had a first-person view of the dramatic shootout goal by Sweden's Peter Forsberg that clinched the 1994 Olympic gold medal. He was the third goalie on Canada's roster and returned with a silver medal.

John LeBlanc was a dominant scorer in junior and university hockey and was named the Canadian university player of the year in 1985-86. He signed as a free agent with the Canucks and played 83 NHL games and had 26 goals and 39 points.

Jim Crockett backstopped the Toronto Marlies to a Memorial Cup championship in 1955-56 and won the Dave Pinkney Trophy for having lowest goals-against by a team in the Ontario league.

Curling success

Campbelltonians also had success on the curling rinks.

Reg Shives was a member of the Canadian curling team that toured Scotland in 1926. In 1927, he skipped his team to the New Brunswick championship and was chosen as a member of a composite team to represent the province at the first Brier. They finished second.

Canada's Frederic Niemeyer looks at the ball before returning it in a Davis Cup match. He was born in Campbellton. ((AP Photo/Roberto Candia))

In 1936, Shives skipped his team to the provincial title and the Ganong Cup, and again went on to the Brier. This time he lost the Tankard to Ken Watson on the last rock in an extra end, the closest a team from this province had come to winning since the Brier was established in 1927.

Louise Oulette skipped her rink to the provincial championships in 1982 and represented New Brunswick at the Scott Tournament of Hearts.

Campbellton-born Frederic Niemeyer is the best tennis player to come from northern New Brunswick. Niemayer rose to 134th in the world rankings a few years ago and is a member of Canada's Davis Cup team.

Last but no means least is Richard McNair, who wasn't from Campbellton but found a way to put this place on the map.

McNair was a convicted killer who had been featured 12-times on the popular TV program "America's Most Wanted." He had been on the run since April 2006 when he escaped from a federal prison in Louisiana -- by mailing himself out.

For a year and a half, he eluded capture but his freedom came to an end in Campbellton in October, 2007. After a low-speed car chase and a foot-chase by the RCMP, McNair was apprehended near the psychiatric hospital.

He is now behind bars at the only super maximum-security prison in the United States, at Florence, Colorado.

"No one 'ratted' me out", he told The Tribune, "I just turned left instead of right and an observant officer got me. Just one of those days."