Connect with us

Headlines

GONE, BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN: Rough Riders hero Wayne Giardino dies at 77

Editor

Published

on

The news hit hard; it always does.

Another hero from days gone by takes his final breath, and a generation of football fans is left with memories from an important chapter of football in Ottawa.

Former Rough Riders quarterback Prince McJunkins died last week from COVID-19 complications at the age of 59. Now, Wayne Giardino, one of Ottawa’s Grey Cup heroes from long ago, is gone, too.

Giardino was a throwback, a football player who would do anything and play anywhere his coach asked him to fill in. And, in days when Canadian Football League teams had 32-man rosters, that versatility was a gift.

The 77-year-old Giardino died surrounded by family in Almonte, where he and wife Nancy had long made their home. He had been battling illness for the past couple of years.

Football fans will remember Giardino for the football giant he was during the heyday of the Rough Riders from 1967 to ’75, when he was a leader by example on the field and won over teammates in the locker room with his cutting sense of humour.

Nicknamed “Pizza” by younger teammates, Giardino was a champion three times; he celebrated Grey Cup wins with the Riders in 1968, 1969 and 1973. Had injuries not kept him off the field in 1976, he would have been part of another. 

Seems like so long ago. In 1968, The Beatles’ Hey Jude topped the Billboard Top 100. The top-grossing movie was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In 1969, The Archie’s Sugar Sugar was the top song, while Funny Girl was the top money-making movie. In both years, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In was the top-rated TV show, with Gomer Pyle, Bonanza and the Beverly Hills also high on the hit list.

In the midst of a Rough Riders’ surge, the Ottawa club was very, very good, a hit in its own right.

At his best in big games, Giardino was a very good CFL linebacker; the stats also showed he made big contributions as a fullback/running back and, really, wherever he was needed. Just an all-around player and all-around good guy. A co-captain with the Rough Riders, he played in the 1970, 1971 and 1974 CFL all-star games. And, yes, he was talented on both sides of the ball. In 1971, Giardino rushed 54 times for 201 yards and had 20 receptions for 127 yards. In 1972, he recovered six fumbles and returned them for 146 yards, scoring two touchdowns.

“He was a big-game performer,” former teammate Jim Cain, a Rough Riders lineman from 1961 to ’69, said Tuesday. “In the 1969 (Grey Cup), (star running back) Vic Washington was hurt, and Wayne was playing both ways on a frozen field in Montreal at the Autostade. It was slippery, it was life and death to stay on your feet, and there he was running with the ball and also playing outside linebacker.

“In college, we all played both ways. That’s not a problem if the guy across from you is playing both ways, too, because you’re both tired. But, if you have to play two ways and other guys aren’t, that’s tough.”

As the story goes, Giardino would frequently say to teammates: “Let’s grab a pizza pie and grab a beer.” Of course, it was never just one beer and the nickname “Pizza” stuck.

Wayne and Nancy had been in Almonte since 1968. They have two children, Nicole and David, and four grandchildren: Ben, Dawson, Owen and Jessica.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Headlines

City committee votes to name Sandy Hill Park after Inuit artist Annie Pootoogook

Editor

Published

on

By

OTTAWA — Ottawa city councillors have voted to rename a Sandy Hill park after celebrated Inuk artist Annie Pootoogook.

The community and protective services committee approved a recommendation to rename the park at 240 Somerset Street East the “Annie Pootoogook Park.”

Pootoogook was an award-winning artist who lived in Ottawa. She died in 2016 at the age of 47 when she fell into the Rideau River. Ottawa police investigated her death, but it was ruled non-suspicious.

Stephanie Plante submitted an application to the city to commemorate Pootoogook by renaming the park after her.

Plante says she met with Veldon Coburn, the adoptive father of Pootoogook’s eight-year-old daughter, and reached out to Pootoogook’s brother in Nunavut to discuss the idea.

“Women matter, the arts matter, and most importantly Inuit people matter,” Plante told the committee.

“As of today, it’s quite possible an entirely new generation will write Annie Pootoogook Park on birthday party invitations, t-ball sign ups, dog park meet ups, soccer registration forms, summer camp locations.”

Alexandra Badzak, director of the Ottawa Art Gallery, told the community and protective services committee the arts community supports honouring Pootoogook.

“Those of us in the arts in Ottawa, across Canada and internationally know of the importance of Annie Pootoogook’s work,” said Badzak. “Who’s pen and pencil crayon drawings drew upon the legacy of her famous artistic family.”

The head of the National Gallery of Canada said Pootoogook’s artistic legacy is remembered across Canada.

“There’s absolutely no question that Annie Pootoogook is deserving of having Sandy Hill Park named in her honour,” Sasha Suda told the committee Thursday morning.

“She was an unbelievably bright light. Despite the briefness of her career, she leaves an incredibly strong legacy through her art work and in the ways that she changed the art world.”

Coun. Mathieu Fleury told the committee plans are in the works to set up an exhibit space in the Sandy Hill Community Centre to highlight Pootoogook’s work. The city is also working to set up programming for Inuit and artists in the park.

Council will vote on the proposal next week.

Continue Reading

Headlines

City aces legal dispute over Kanata golf club

Editor

Published

on

By

An Ontario court judge has upheld a 40-year-old agreement that says the Kanata Lakes Golf and Country Club must remain open space and not be redeveloped into a housing community.

The decision is a big win for the city, Kanata North Coun. Jenna Sudds and her constituents, who have spent two years trying to prevent property owner ClubLink from turning the course into a 1,500-home development with its partners Minto Communities and Richcraft Homes.

Sudds, who said she burst into tears over Friday’s decision, called it “terrific news” for the community. As many as 500 homes back onto the course and more than 1,000 households use the grounds for recreation, she said.

“The green space, the golf course itself, which really is right in the middle of our community here, is used by the community quite frequently,” said Sudds, who recently moved the neighbourhood. “I see people out all hours of the day throughout the winter. It’s amazing to see all the tracks snowshoeing and skiing and dog-walking.”

40-year-old agreement ‘valid’

ClubLink, which bought the 50-year-old course in 1997, announced in December 2018 that it planned to redevelop part of the property.

Local residents, along with the newly elected councillor and the city’s own legal department, argued that the development shouldn’t go ahead due to a 1981 legal agreement between then City of Kanata and the developer. That agreement called for 40 per cent of the area in Kanata Lakes to be open space in perpetuity.

“The 1981 Agreement continues to be a valid and binding contract,” Ontario Superior Court Justice Marc Labrosse wrote in his 44-page decision.

Continue Reading

Headlines

Ottawa residents remain pro-Trump Avenue

Editor

Published

on

By

It appears Donald Trump still has a home in Canada’s capital, even if he has departed Washington, D.C.

Earlier this year, residents on Trump Avenue, in Ottawa’s Central Park neighbourhood, put the possibility of changing the name of their street to a vote following the former president’s tumultuous time in office.

The neighbourhood has several streets named after icons of New York City and Trump was a famous real estate mogul before he was elected.

In order to change the name of a street, the city requires 50 per cent plus one of all households on that street to be in favour.

There are 62 houses on Trump Avenue, meaning at least 32 households would have had to vote to change the name.

The city councillor for the area, Riley Brockington, said Wednesday that 42 households voted and the neighbourhood was divided, 21 to 21. 

Without the required margin to enact the change, Brockington says the matter will not proceed any further. 

Continue Reading

Chat

Trending