An elephant, a pencil, a cuppa, and hockey hockey hockey: And here’s a shout-out to the lone Leafs fan in the Townships

We need to talk about Horton. Frankly, there’s something wrong with him. It’s not just the twerking – though goodness knows, a dancing elephant is a sight that none of us should be forced to watch. He’s wacky, he’s hyperactive, he thinks he’s funny (not), and he’s even been described as “a warrior poet.”

Well let me tell you, we do not want that sort around here.

And I haven’t even mentioned the speck he carries around in his trunk that he believes is filled with living people.

Who, you ask?

Exactly. A speck of Whoville, if you please! The whole story’s been documented by a Dr. Seuss, and retold in the documentary film Horton Hears A Who (2008, just short of an hour and a half, in which Horton sounds an awful lot like the hyperkinetic, and hilarious, Jim Carrey; the DVD is filed in the Lennoxville Library at K-98, just ask a staffperson to get it for you).

It would make more sense for the film to be named after Kangaroo, the real star, and her quest to control the crazy. As Kangaroo says (sounding an awful lot like Carol Burnett): “Our community has standards, Horton. If you want to remain a part of it, I recommend you follow them. Have a nice day.”

But who knows how those movie studio hotshots make these types of decisions? You’d think “Horton” would be a name with few takers. And yet… they seem to be everywhere.

James Horton has written Introduction Au Dessin (1994, translated from the English by Marie-Christine Arnault, and filed in the children’s section at 741.2 in C-121). It’s perfect for reading and practicing, when you’re cozy inside during these chilly evenings. This is a how-to for serious wannabe artists: « La ligne est la forme la plus élémentaire en dessin mais la force et la souplesse du tracé lui confèrent de multiples possibilités expressives. »

The author references portraits by Rembrandt and Bruegel, Van Gogh and Degas. There are sections on using charcoal, pencils and sepia ink.

It’s all in colour, and a joy to read and to look at, filled with famous paintings and hints on creating the perfect still life. (If only Horton the elephant understood the concept of sitting still….)

Here’s another young whippersnapper with That Name, profiled in Horten’s Miraculous Mechansims: Magic, Mystery And A Very Strange Adventure (by Lissa Evans, 2012, C-224). Horten’s a family name, and parlor tricks and stage magicianship seem to run in the family from waaaay back. Ten-year-old Stuart Horten’s father, however, couldn’t get a quarter to come out of his ear if his life depended on it.

Stuart’s another matter. He loves puzzles and mysteries, and it seems that his long lost great uncle left a doozy that only Stuart can solve. Or at least, he tries. It’s going to take work, a knowledge of history, and a bit of luck. Plus Stuart will have to avoid the nosy kid-journalists next door who are desperate to print some nasty gossip.

Perhaps Canada’s most famous Horton, however, is a hockey player. Yes, all of this has been a roundabout way to bring up hockey. Our beloved Habs are out of the play-offs, but one should not be a fair-weather fan. A fan is a fan, no matter how small… the win-loss stats are.

So let’s talk about Canada’s game. The adversarial pundit Rex Murphy does write about hockey: “The great national response to winter, and the greatest shield against its many glooms and ravages, was, of course, the invention of hockey. Hockey may be seen, in its earliest manifestation, as a means of turning winter against itself; of giving a very great number of people, who were definitely not masochists, a reason to look forward to the time when all the lakes and ponds were frozen and the wind chill bit the soul. Hooray, we’re freezing! Let’s play hockey!”

Clearly, not a huge hockey fan, but Murphy understands the sport’s importance, regardless of whether the favoured team is on a winning streak. In fact, those few sentences were written during an NHL strike, when there was no pro hockey on the telly: “We are a fragile country. We cannot depend on Tim Hortons and Canadian Tire alone to keep us together…. It’s going to be a long winter.”

These words are taken from his collection Canada And Other Matters Of Opinion (2009, which reprints dozens of his short newspaper columns, and is filed in the Lennoxville Library in Non-Fiction at 081).

In ‘I’m With The Brand’, from 2008, Murphy looks more closely at how the Tim Hortons coffee-terias have become a part of the national identity: “I doubt anyone can locate the moment Hortons stopped being a small doughnut shop serving, at best, indifferent coffee and transmuted into a hallowed piece of Canadiana, but that it arrived no one can doubt. Outside of Hockey Night in Canada and – with reverence – Don Cherry, there are few institutions or companies that have blended into the character of the nation so completely as Tim Hortons.”

Murphy is a fan of the Boston cream.

There’s lots more about Timmys. But nothing about the original Tim Horton, the hockey player. Yet the cuppa owes much to the hockey.

Who was Tim Horton? An Ontario boy, born in 1930, signed by the Maple Leafs at 19. He played for Toronto (back when they were a real team – sorry, Leafs fan, I’m a Habs gal) for close to 20 years. He also spent a short time on a handful of American teams. After hockey fame, he needed another career, and picked coffee. Horton died in 1974.

The quest for Tim Horton the hockey player might lead you to Don Cherry, the (not so famed) player, but a very successful coach and Hockey Night In Canada analyst. Don Cherry’s Hockey Stories And Stuff (as told to Al Strachan, 2008, filed in Non-Fiction at 796.96) is conversational in tone and piled high with quick anecdotes and big names (Jim Carrey would rattle them off with glee!).

Cherry is arrogant, and at times, a real jerk. He also has the self-awareness to apologize for some of his more stupid pranks. One evening, moments away from a big win as a coach, he behaved the  boor: “But as usual I can’t leave well enough alone. Instead of enjoying the moment, I got to ruin it. Acting the show-off with about a minute to go, I call a time out, and a kid asked me to sign an autograph, why not? So I sign autographs during a time out, ticking off Boston players, who I love, Harry Sinden, that’s okay, my owners, and the fans, but what hurt the most was my son, Tim, who was 15 and travelling with us as a stick boy, he asked after the game, ‘Why do you things like that, Dad?’ I wish I knew.”

But there’s not a single mention of Tim Horton, though.

Who?

 

— Eleanor Brown, February 12, 2016

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About BiblioLennLibrary

The Lennoxville Library, in Quebec's Eastern Townships, offers free memberships to all residents of Sherbrooke. We have a great selection of books in French and English, plus books on tape and CD, too! Check out our large-print section, our graphic novels... La Biblio Lennoxville se situe dans les Cantons-de-l'Est du Quebec. Les residents de Sherbrooke peuvent devenir membre gratuitement. Nous avons une grande selection de livres en francais et en anglais. Venez donc nous voir! Hours/Heures d'ouverture: Mardi-Tuesday, 10am to 5pm -- 10h a 17h Mercredi et Jeudi -Wednesday and Thursday, 10am to 6pm -- 10h a 18h Vendredi-Friday, 10am to 5pm -- 10h a 17h Samedi-Saturday, 11am to 4pm -- 11h a 16h Pour plus d'info, vous pouvez nous trouver au http://www.bibliolennoxvillelibrary.ca/ Click on the above to get to our website!
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