Windsor - November 5, 2013 - If you look up “die hard Toronto Maple Leafs superfan” in the dictionary, there’s a good chance you’ll see a picture of Amherstburg’s Ruth Cragg. Like a lot of Leafs fans, she’s cheered for the Buds for as long as she can remember, and never misses a game. What makes her different than other die hards? Ruth is 90 years young! She’s been alive for every one of Toronto’s thirteen Stanley Cup victories.
Ruth lists her favourite players over the years as Terry Sawchuk, Marcel Pronovost, Red Kelly, Dave Keon, Bobby Baun, Paul Henderson, Darryl Sittler, Wendel Clark, Tie Domi, Darcy Tucker, Curtis Joseph, and Doug Gilmour - her all time favourite. As for Mats Sundin, she says he grew on her. At first she didn’t like him because “the Leafs traded Wendel Clark to get him”, but he quickly earned her respect. These days her favourites are Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak.
She remembers listening to the Leafs on the radio with Foster Hewitt, and when the first televisions came out, her husband Robert had to have one of the first ones on the block. He went out and bought a seven inch black and white RCA model, with a price tag of $500.00, which Ruth says was quite a lot of money that they couldn’t really afford. So Robert worked out a deal with the merchant where he paid $1.00 down, and $1.00 a week thereafter.Their Elm Street home became the gathering place for friends and family who would crowd around the tiny screen to watch the Leafs on Saturday nights. And when colour televisions came out, they traded their faithful seven inch RCA for a ten inch colour model, so Ruth could watch her beloved Leafs in blue and white instead of black and white.
Ruth and husband Robert, who is 87, met at R.P. Scherer when they both worked on the line sorting capsules. Over the course of their marriage, since Robert didn’t like staying in one place for too long, they have moved over thirty times. Citing their love of the river, most of the buildings they lived in were on the waterfront, including the old Riverview Apartments and the building near the old CKLW radio station on Riverside Drive.
In addition to their love of hockey and river views, Ruth and Robert also share a love of horse racing, and for two years (1959, 1960) they lived in and ran the old Kenilworth Stables across from where Devonshire Mall is today. They were members of the South Western Ontario Horse Association, and they both worked the area horse shows; Ruth as the one responsible for the entries, and Robert as a judge and announcer.
Recently Ruth was surprised by her granddaughter who had written to Hockey Night In Canada legend Don Cherry, telling Grapes about her grandmother’s 90th birthday. Cherry responded in first class fashion (no pun intended) as he always does, by sending several personally autographed pictures and well wishes.
Congratulations on your 90th birthday, Ruth. Here’s hoping the Leafs will once again raise Lord Stanley’s mug for you!
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