Remembering Jim Bristowe

Photo courtesy Allan Bristowe. Jim Bristowe, right, presents Johnny Bower with his Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame citation. It would be Bower’s last visit to the city before his death.

Dedicated volunteer; former Citizen of the Year dies at 72

“Mr. Prince Albert.” “Committee Jim.” “A builder of the City of Prince Albert.” “A cornerstone of the foundation of the (Prince Albert Raiders).”

That’s how people are remembering Jim Bristowe.

Bristowe, a former city councillor, Citizen of the Year, Sportsman of the Year, Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame inductee — and much more — has died. He was 72.

Bristowe was known for his work volunteering in the Prince Albert community. He was involved in the Red Cross, Lung Association, Cancer Society and Crimestoppers.

He was the former public address announcer of the Prince Albert Raiders , and he billeted the team’s first-ever captain, Ray Bansley. He took photos of the team’s Memorial Cup victory, and presented Johnny Bower with his hall of fame plaque during Bower’s last ever visit to P.A.

Bristowe’s contributions to the Raiders and to Prince Albert were not forgotten by the club.

“One thing that rang true … from a lot of people we talked to today, is they considered Jim the cornerstone of the foundation of the club,” said Prince Albert Raiders Business Manager Mike Scissons.

“He was one of the types of individuals that are generational. We only see those people once in a while, and its an unfortunate loss to not only the Raider organization but the City of Prince Albert.”

Scissons’ words were echoed by Raiders president Gord Broda.

“Jim has dedicated many years to our Raider organization on many levels. He was a true raider fan and supporter. He bled green,” he said.

“Jim will be deeply missed by our Raider family.”

Bristowe was also involved as a politician. He served on city council for 15 years, where he earned a reputation for getting things done. As Don Cody, fellow councillor and mayor during Bristowe’s term put it, you “couldn’t have wished a better councillor.

“He was a guy who was diligent at his work, Cody said. “He was very compassionate and did a tremendous job for the community. He’s been an all around guy who’s there wherever you needed him. He’s going to be sorely missed.”

Cody said Bristowe always put his family and his community first. He wasn’t afraid of taking on tough work as a councillor.

According to Cody, it’s people like Bristowe that make Prince Albert what it is today.

“He was someone who took that leadership role and made people do the kinds of things … they could for their community.”

One person who saw Bristowe’s work firsthand was Allan Bristowe, Jim’s son.

“My dad was probably Mr. everything,” Allan said.

“He was a true leader in the community. We are very proud, and obviously we miss him a lot.”

Jim’s two children both carried on the family tradition.

Allan’s sister won the 1984 Terry Fox award for her volunteer work while battling asthma. Allan now volunteers with the Salvation Army at Christmas with his daughter, because that’s what he and his dad did when Allan was young.

Jim Bristowe also opened many doors for Allan that led to a career as a hockey broadcaster, and now off-ice official with BC Hockey.

“If I didn’t have my dad taking me to the hockey rink, or letting me be the stick boy for the 1988 Purolator Cup — Having Ray Whitney and Richard Matvichuk, two guys that went into the NHL — I got to hang around those guys,” Allan Bristowe said.

“Thanks to my dad, it’s turned into a career for me, and if it wasn’t for my dad I would have never been involved in that stuff.”

Some of those childhood experiences had a funny way of coming back around. Richard Matvicuk now coaches the Prince George Cougars of the WHL, where he works with BC hockey and Allan Bristowe.

But for Allan Bristowe, it wasn’t just about what his dad did for his children. It was also about seeing all the good he did for the community.

“We knew him as Committee Jim. He was so good at it. He was such a good chair or co-chair of all of the events he was involved with,” Allan said.

“It was just a part of his life.”

It was that community spirit that was noticed by those who got to know Jim Bristowe.

One of those people was Bob Vance, who sat on several boards with Jim.

“I think just about everybody in the city knew him,” Vance said.

“He was just one of those great guys you could count on to get the job done here in Prince Albert.”

Vance said Bristowe knew so many people, he could get just about anything done.

“He was certainly a builder of the City of Prince Albert,” Vance said.

“He was a guy that was so proud of this city, of Prince Albert, that he was willing to give countless hours of his time to make sure that events and facilities were the best they could be. He was a guy that didn’t do it for any glory, he just did it because he liked the city and the people in it. He’s going to be missed by everybody that worked with him.”

Trevor Dutchak of Parkland Ambulance echoed much of what Vance said. Dutchak was a family friend of the Bristowes, and got a front seat look at everything Jim Bristowe did.

“Jim was just a fantastic man. He was Mr. Prince Albert,” Dutchak said.

“Always a gentleman. It didn’t matter who you were, or where you were. He was a great man.

“He will be sadly, sadly, sadly missed.”