MITCHELL’S MUSINGS: A generous spirit

Glenn Mitchell reflects on Patrick Nicol and his contributions to the community

My first memories of Patrick Nicol are of him on the radio, CJIB 94, when I wore a younger man’s clothes (to steal a phrase from Billy Joel, a reference Patrick would get because he knew more about music than any human I ever knew).

He also could win any sports trivia contest hands down and I’m sure there were many other topics he was well versed in that I never even got the chance to explore with him.

After all, the man could talk. Well, he did talk for a living for much of his life so we’ll cut him some slack.

However there were times when I’d be on the phone with him about one topic and before you knew it we had covered a whole slew of subjects and the better part of an hour was history.

But back to the radio.

I recall him doing impressions on the air, quite good ones as a matter of fact, and if memory serves me right he may have done the 12 Days of Christmas with a dozen different voices, but Roger Knox may be able to help me on that one.

Although he was better known for Talkback, a call-in show from 11 a.m. to noon, which was a local version of Webster, only much nicer and more earnest like Patrick himself.

And there was Welcome Traveller at the Kal Lake Lookout where he, and some other hosts from time to time, simply talked to visitors taking in the sights from one of the best vistas on the planet.

Generally they would say what a nice place we have here and he would say something nice about wherever they came from and maybe they or he would share a personal story or two that may or may not enlighten one on the human condition we all share.

It was folksy. It was wholesome. It was hokey. It was actually pretty damn good. And it was pure Patrick.

I remember listening to his show with a few high school buddies at the time and we plotted on a few occasions to go up there, complete with phoney foreign accents, and tell him some made-up personal account of our life that, of course, would be hysterical, well at least to a 16-year-old in the ‘70s.

But, of course, we never did. I’d like to say out of respect for Patrick and his show, and that was likely part of it, but more out of fear and how when you‘re that age you don’t do 97.6 per cent of the stupid things you say you’re going to do, especially around your buddies.

And speaking of respect for Patrick, you can’t help but admire his political career. All those years on council, when he almost always topped the polls, a couple of failed attempts at mayor that, looking back, we the voters probably got wrong, and the so many other ways of serving the community through Canada Day activities and lending a hand, or just his presence, at countless other events that helped make this community a better one for all.

He had a generous spirit that was so genuine and earnest it won almost everyone over.

Certainly he had his quirks and shortcomings like the rest of us but he put himself out there for the good of the community, win or lose, and largely on a daily basis.

I remember one of the last times I saw him was on a street near the Safeway downtown, shortly after we had run a story on his tax troubles. I told him how bad I felt about playing a role in telling the rest of the world about it and how I worried it may or may not have cost him his job. And how I’d been wanting to tell him that for some time now.

He reassured me; he, of course, understood how the news media works and what our, and his, obligations are to the public. He ended up fighting back against the charges, and we covered that too.

But that day, a day I thought I was trying to comfort him, he quickly asked how “my wonderful wife” and family were doing and how he enjoyed reading that “great column”….and before you knew it he was making me feel better about life (even though I knew he wasn’t in great health at the time).

The man cared.


Thanks, Patrick.