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Carbonear’s first rec director honoured for service to youth

By Mark Squibb/March 24, 2022

A man who worked alongside Ernest A. Cole, Carbonear’s first official recreation director, says Cole was a man who looked out for young people.

“Ern was more than just a recreation director,” said Rex Cotter. “He took young fellows to heart. Some of them weren’t that well off, but he made sure they got into the activities and went on the trips just as well as the other guys did. Ern treated every young fellow on the level. And he made sure the guys who didn’t have as much at home had just as much and were just as well accepted into the program as anybody else, and if they had any talent, he made sure it was developed. He was just an all-around guy to everybody; everybody was alike to him.”

Cotter presented a plaque to the Town of Carbonear last week on behalf of Mrs. Audrey Cole, Fred Saunders, and himself in recognition of Coles’ contribution to the young people of Carbonear and the surrounding area.

Cole was born in Carbonear in 1939, and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force following his high school graduation in 1956.

In the 1960’s, he opened a television repair business, and in his spare time became a 589 Carbonear Air Cadet Squadron Officer, while also organizing, coaching, and supervising other sports and recreation activities.

When the Carbonear Boys Club was formed in 1964, Cole was an obvious choice to run the Club. In addition, when the Carbonear Recreation Commission was formed, Cole was appointed as it’s first recreation director, a position he held until 1968.

Beginning in ’68, Cole spent several years teaching Phys ed at Davis Elementary School. He would go on to receive a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees from Memorial University and a Master of Science degree in Adult Education from Florida State University. He was eventually named the Associate Director of Continuing Studies.

Cole passed away at the age of 60.

“Everybody in Carbonear knew Ern,” said Cotter. “But I must say, I worked with him as president of the Boy’s Club, and there’s lots of things that Ern did behind the scenes that nobody knew about.”

Cotter recalled the time Cole took a group of boys to Goderich, Ontario to compete in a hockey tournament well before minor hockey was established in CBN, or how he would let the club use his station wagon with no thought of renumeration.

The plaque now hangs at the Carbonear Swimming Pool. It’s as fitting a place as any, as Cole was a certified lifeguard in his day, back when Carbonear still had an outdoor pool and not the modern swim complex of today.

“He got involved with the boys’ day-to-day lives,” said Cotter. “He was a mentor to many of them. Some of these kids had very little. Ern put his hands in his pockets many-a-times if the guys were going somewhere on a trip to make sure they had a haircut and stuff like that. Everybody respected Ern, not only within the club, but outside.”

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