Farewell Jim Crichton

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Have a Cup of Joe with Joe – Farewell Jim Crichton

The year 2000 (Y2K) not only ushered in a new millennium, it also introduced us to a new TV anchorman, Jim Crichton.

(Note: The CTV Windsor newscast was originally produced for the first three years out of London, before moving in 2003 to Windsor as CHWI, at the corner of University and Ouellette Avenues. Later it also was branded as The A Channel.)

This was the first time the Port Colborne native had ever been in Windsor — except as an infant with his parents travelling en route to Chicago. As Crichton drove to the downtown core over the Ouellette Avenue overpass, he gasped.

“I had no idea that Windsor was such a large city with impressive skyscrapers,” Crichton recalls. “I began to worry that I might have bitten off more than I could chew.”

It seems he had fallen prey to the same false perception most first time visitors experience from the “overpass” — that the distant structures are not in Windsor, but in Detroit, across a one-and-a-half-mile wide river.

Crichton began his career as a 20-year-old apprentice. In those days there were only a handful of colleges teaching the skills of on-air broadcasting.

He attended Brock University in St. Catharines as an English major. At the time he thought he might have a future in teaching.

For three years Crichton was part of the campus radio station. It was there the light switch turned on; on-air broadcasting was to be his future.

His first gig was CHOW Radio in Welland, a city near Port Colborne.

News’ junkies will recognize the name of Eric Sorenson. He and Crichton had both lived in Port Colborne and were high school classmates. Sorenson has been Global National’s Senior National Affairs Correspondent since early 2014.

Before this, Sorenson spent eight years as Global National’s Washington Bureau Chief covering the most significant stories in the U.S. and around the world.

So, back in 1974 Sorenson was working at CHOW radio, but planning to leave to attend Ryerson University in Toronto. Sorenson knew Crichton participated in campus radio at Brock University and recommended him to CHOW’s News Director to be his replacement. And thus, in 1974 Crichton’s broadcasting career began with stops in Welland, Niagara Falls, Peterborough, Kitchener, London, Halifax and Windsor.

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During these years Crichton honed his broadcasting skills on radio. While in Halifax he had a short gig with a country music station where he met Shania Twain and Trisha Yearwood.

Crichton points out that: “While I was in Halifax, I also volunteered to host a weekend Public Affairs Show in Dartmouth Nova Scotia with Shaw TV (cable). It was there that I learned reading script from the teleprompter, and other related on-air skills for television.”

It wasn’t until 2000 that Crichton was recommended for a position in television by a friend, news director George Clark at London’s CFPL Television. Crichton is an expert in networking with others, and this ability is what helped land him in television.

Asked about his first impression of Windsor, Crichton comments: “The people are of course the ‘secret sauce’ here; the people have really sustained us through good times and bad.”

He continues: “I’m a real car person, so living in the Motor Cities of Windsor with Detroit across the river is a match made in heaven for me. My father was a metallurgist back home and part of their product was ‘pig iron’ that was used in Windsor’s engine blocks back when they were cast iron.”

Crichton raves about the view Windsorites have of the riverfront and he has developed a love affair with Via Italia (Erie Street) cuisine, and the various other cuisine offerings in this multicultural rich city and county.

I asked Crichton who were the major professional broadcast journalists who most influenced him in his career. Without hesitation he tells me, “The late Peter Jennings who found remarkable success in both Canada (his home) and U.S. network evening news; Lloyd Robertson, CTV News Anchor and still the Dean of Canadian Broadcasting; and the late Paul Harvey and his trademark line, ‘Hello, Americans! This is Paul Harvey, (pause) Stand by for news’!”

Crichton shared with me one of his “oops” moments from his early days in Windsor. While he was anchoring municipal election coverage for the station at the Caboto Club, he and his panel were discussing City of Windsor Mayor Mike Hurst and Town of Amherstburg Mayor Wayne Hurst, when Crichton innocently asked, “Are the two of them related?” (Silence …. LOL!)

Then there is the story from Biz X magazine Publisher Deborah Jones, who with her partner, Jack Rosenberg, are good friends of Crichton. They once joined him and his wife at a hot and dusty rodeo event at the Canadian Transportation Museum and Heritage Village. Deborah and Jack wore cowboy boots and western attire, while Crichton — always nattily dressed — wore his signature full length trench coat and fedora.

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(L-R) Jim Crichton. Patricia Crichton, event organizer, Deborah Jones, Jack Rosenberg

Friday, November 30, 2021 was Crichton’s final television broadcast on CTV News Windsor.

True to form he paid tribute to his colleagues — past and present — who made his job so much easier to do.

“They are all the best of the best in professional broadcasting and I will forever respect them, and the friendships forged,” he stated.

Windsorites can rest assured they have not seen the end of Crichton. He will still be driving his beloved cars, helping with community needs, and be an essential part of the fabric of his adopted city.

He, along with his wonderful wife Pat, who he met on assignment at a Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County event, now have time to check off their bucket list items like a lengthy Route 66 trip south of the border and a possible trans-oceanic trip to their new interest, Japan.

For both of you, retirement does not mean you have reached the “finish” line. Instead you have arrived at a brand new and exciting “starting” line.

Godspeed to you both, and thanks for your years of committed and professional service.

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Joe retired January 2015 as a Superintendent from a 26 year career with the Canada Border Services Agency in Windsor. Since then he has jettisoned into a number of exciting new opportunities. Joe is in his 13th year as a volunteer with TVCogeco as their on air personality at Windsor City and Essex County Council Meetings, and his 11 years as a registered Ontario Marriage Officiant. Joe now shares his talents and numerous life experiences with Biz X as a regular blogger, columnist and any other “Joe – Jobs” we can find for him.