Photo Courtesy of Boulder Books
A graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland and accomplished journalist with the Evening Telegram and CBC, Ron Crocker recounts the life of treasured Newfoundland individualist Ray Guy.
In his second book, titled “Ray Guy: Portrait of a Rebel,” Crocker recounts the personal history of his friend and colleague Ray Guy. Lovingly compiled through research and personal narratives, Crocker describes Guy’s philosophies and his influence on Newfoundland politics in the most comprehensive recounting of the legend’s life to date.
Far from painting Guy as a martyr, Crocker presents the journalist’s vulnerabilities and struggles on his path to notoriety, building to the diagnosis that led to his untimely death.
Originating in Arnold’s Cove, Placentia Bay: Guy is proof that the most ambitious journalists from the smallest communities can build a career and name for themselves in Newfoundland literature. His brilliantly detailed recantations of his experiences growing up in the community are encapsulated in his Outharbour Delights series of essays, of which Ron Crocker shares many passages. These essays endear the reader to Guy and demonstrate that his writing was not entirely focused on politics.
There is comfort in his fond recollections of childhood.
Many encourage the reader to celebrate their origins and appreciate the small, beautiful moments that lead to a fully developed, critically thinking adult.
A victim of the prejudice and scorn directed at baymen by their classmates attending Memorial University during his enrollment, Guy still managed to continue his education.
Returning to Arnold’s Cove to work for his father briefly before heading off to Ryerson University. During his time at Memorial University, Guy says, “I took arts and ran head-on into the St. John’s clique dominating that faculty… Unadulterated misery. I flunked math and something else (French I think it was) so the two years knocked together made one good one.” (Guy, 1982).
Guy’s style of journalism was an active one. He frequently travelled to communities to speak to eyewitnesses, reporting the most sympathetic accounts of devastating events. This caught the eye of many dedicated readers in a distinctive way that is difficult in modern journalism.
Always loyal to his province of birth – Guy’s determination to remain a journalist in NL led him to turn down opportunities that could have garnered him more national recognition. Yet this was not a concern.
Guy supported the dissolution of denominational, Church-controlled education in Newfoundland. He spoke against the Smallwood administration so effectively that the Prime Minister himself hung on Guy’s every word through carefully crafted satirical pieces.
Ray Guy was, and remains, a diamond in the rough. His sharp parodies still carry the same bite today as when they were written. He was well-educated and well-read, demonstrating both in his writing. Young journalists such as I would do well to take Guy’s story as encouragement. Read by such prominent figures as John C. Crosbie, Guy reserves bragging rights to a prestigious audience fitting his superior abilities as a wordsmith.
Ron Crocker does justice by commemorating the life and contributions of Ray Guy. It would be a great crime to forget Guy’s contributions to endorsing the right to voice opinions. In addition to the path he laid for young journalists finding their beginnings in Newfoundland in the 21st century. Guy, who was loyal to Newfoundland in a way that many opportunistic journalists aren’t. Guy was determined to prove that he could maintain a career in Newfoundland journalism and literature. Guy now stands as a curator of individualistic youth in our province.
*A special thank you to Glenn Day from Boulder Books for providing The Muse with a copy of the book and for their patience during the writing process*.