• Heather Cardle

#FrameItFriday (week 10 season 4)


Walter Gretzky 1938-2021



#FrameItFriday (week 10 season 4)

Today we all mourn the loss of the world's best hockey dad, our Lord Mayor, ambassador of kindness and generosity and a loving father, grandfather, husband. My social media feed is blowing up with tributes to everyone's friend, Walter Gretzky. I'll just mention my experience throughout the years here whilst living in Brantford. I first met Mr. Gretzky at the Christmas Baskets program. We were boxing food up and he was making his way through the many volunteers thanking us for helping out. My daughter was with me at the time, he whipped out a post-it note pad and asked her her name and wrote "To Shannon from W.Gretzky" (he said we could always show it to people and say that Wayne, his son signed it.) I found out he always said that to people. He asked me if I wanted an autograph as well but I said "that's ok thanks, you're pretty busy". I was actually in total awe and was a completely stunned fangirl in his presence. Throughout the years living in Brantford the street I always took to hit up Walmart was Walter's street. I'd drive by, hoping for a glimpse of Walter or his son the famous hockey player Wayne. Instead I'd see a pile of hockey sticks stacked in front of their garage door. When I resumed my passion of photography I'd flit about town taking photos at local events, one hot summer's day I went over to Lion's Park to take shots at the Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament. While waiting to watch the opening ceremonies I was startled by someone who'd snuck up beside me and began to speak to me. It was Walter, he loved to chat. I can't remember what we discussed but our conversation was cut short because Walter had to drop the ball for the first face-off and all important photo-op. Through-out the years I'd see him at endless charity events, talking to everyone and handing out autographs on yellow sticky note pads. He'd always ask your name, always, it helped him with his short-term memory loss from a stroke he had. Anyhow, it wasn't until the past 5 years or so that I'd meet up with him and his driving buddy Mike and childhood friend Joan that I'd see him a bit more often. I walked arm-in-arm with him into the Walmart, I felt like I was going to the prom. He serenaded my daughter when she worked the cash at the local Metro. He loved to sing and serenade the ladies. He's had so many photo shoots that he'd always tell us how "to take the shot" probably much like he did when he was training his son for hockey I'll bet. My best memory ever was back in 2017, the year Canada was turning 150. I wanted my July 1st, 2017 photo of the day to be iconic, after all 150 is a good age and I love my country. Hmmmm.....I had an idea that involved the use of our exterior garage wall that we'd Canadianized and someone super Canadian cool to pose in front of it. I contacted my photographer friend Mike also Walter's driver and asked him if he thought that maybe Walter would like to be in a photo I'd like to take. A few days later down my driveway walks my friend Mike with his buddy Walter. I can't tell you how thrilled I was! The entire shoot was over in under a minute, I'd already had an idea in my head, I had a hockey stick which I handed to Walter and the Canadiana themed backdrop. I asked Walter if he was ok with the shot I was taking, he said "you're the photographer, it better be" or something like that. His directing days were over I guess. Wally was more interested in the huge hunk of tree trunk we had on our patio. In fact, after we took the shot we stood there together trying to count the rings to see how old the tree had been. The first shot above is the shot I took of Wally. I will cherish every time I got to meet up with Walter, I will cherish this memory of him in our backyard. I have a very vivid memory of Wally and Mike driving off from McDonald's blasting gangster flute music in Mike's car. I'd introduced Wally & Mike to a flute player who'd come to town to perform and who also was a superfan of Walter's. Before he headed back to Detroit I arranged with Mike and Wally to meet him at McDonald's that morning. Wally gave him an autographed photo and Alexander gave him a few of his flute cds. It was hilarious actually. Obviously I hadn't seen Walter nor Mike since covid hit. Walter will be missed dearly by all who've met him and experienced his kindness and generosity. I thank my friend Mike for arranging the opportunity to take the photo of Walter. I thank Walter for all of his dedication to our community and to anyone he met. My deepest condolences to the Gretzky family and to my friends Mike and Joan in their loss. We will miss you Walter, but I hope you're up there dancing with your girl. Brantford will never be the same without you but you will always be in our hearts. Peace, love and kumbaya, Heather

#Photoblog #CanonGirl #WalterGretzky #HeatherCardlePhotographer

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