A Brief But Important Digression

Blasts from the Past

As the local schools prepare for the annual Terry Fox Run, I want to take a moment to remember August 12, 1980 — the day Terry Fox ran through our city.


I had just purchased my first 35mm camera from a friend, and I spent that summer “experimenting,” meaning taking a whole bunch of pictures in hopes of capturing something that looked remotely tasteful and artistic.  I had already cut my teeth, so to speak, working on the Dunn yearbook staff in the school’s makeshift darkroom.  I went through rolls of film, both black and white and colour, that summer — the awkward, heavy-set high school kid trying to express himself through photography.  Looking back on a few surviving prints taken that summer, I think it’s safe to say that my future was going to be with the written word rather than the captured image.


I had been aware of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope by watching Knowlton Nash on CBC’s The National.  It seemed an incredibly brave and earnest dream: to cross Canada on an artificial limb to raise money and awareness for cancer research.  Today such marathons and feats of courage are almost commonplace for people determined to fight for a heartfelt cause. But in 1980, the whole world discovered and cheered on the dream of one young Canadian,  and marvelled at his courage and his perseverance.


The day Terry hit the Sault, hundreds and hundreds of people lined his route to catch a glimpse.  Little did we know the history we were all witnessing.  I was there, with my camera, having already been out pursuing the elusive frameable photo.   I was driving around town looking for inspiration and found myself in the then-woody area behind the “P” Patch.  As I was turning onto McNabb from Pentagon, I saw that I was just ahead of Terry’s entourage.  I parked quickly and illegally at the intersection, grabbed my camera and ran out to take a picture of Terry as he passed.


But I had to run to get a good shot, and I ran almost to the intersection of McNabb and Pine to get this picture of him in our city that great August day.  It was the only one that did not come out blurry, and its composition isn’t great, but to me, it’s the best picture I have ever taken.


Terry’s time in the Sault was lengthened a bit when he broke a cable on his artificial limb.  In typical Sault fashion, he was helped by a welder who happened to hear of the trouble and immediately offered his help.  The limb was repaired, and Terry was on his way again.


Terry is now indeed a citizen of the world, and his courage and determination go on in the generations that have grown  up with him as a hero — a hero in the most meaningful sense of the word.  Please remember to donate to the Terry Fox Run or to the Canadian Cancer Society in honour of Terry and in honour of those who fight equally bravely and determinedly every day.