Amidst the great results of our Canadian Olympians during the 2014 Winter Olympics, the contribution of a St. Albert, Alberta curling great was not lost on Ron MacLean and the CBC. During prime time Olympic coverage Ron MacLean made mention of Hec Gervais as a pioneer of curling.
A lot of people across the country watching the show may not know that Hec Gervais, known as “The Friendly Giant”, was born and raised in the St. Albert area. Gervais spent a lifetime farming in the St. Albert area and also became a legendary figure in curling.
|Armand Gervais and son Hector Gervais, 1948|
Gervais was born in 1933 and started curling competitively in 1950. He also played junior football and hockey in the 1950s. It was in curling, however, where he found his fame. His fabulous career would lead him to be inducted into the Curling Hall of Fame in 1975. Some of his accomplishments in curling include competing in 10 provincial championships, winning four of them. His teams also won the Brier in 1961 and 1974. In 1961 he was the skip of a team that won the Scotch Cup held in Scotland, emblematic of the World Championship.
|Hector Gervais, Ray Werner, Ron Anton, and Wally Ursuliak. World Champions in 1961. Photo courtesy of Helen Gervais.|
Gervais would continue to make St. Albert his home. He helped develop the St. Albert Curling Club and the Friendly Giant lounge in the curling club is named in his honour. Gervais Road is named in his honour as well.
The Musée Héritage Museum received a generous donation from the Gervais family in the 1980s. We hold a number of Hec Gervais’ personal materials in our museum collections and archives, such as trophies, sweaters worn during games, plaques, photographs, paintings and other artifacts.
|A commissioned caricature of Hec Gervais, 1976.|
Please come on down to the museum if you would like to take a look at any of these artifacts of a curling great from St. Albert.
Information for this blog comes from:
Interview of Hec Gervais, conducted by sportscaster Tim Dancy in the 1987 Labatt Brier program.