IROQUOIS FALLS – The Abitibi Eskimos lost a pillar of their organization last week when long-time trainer Bruce Renwick passed away.
He was 66 years old.
Renwick joined the organization in 1996 when Eskimos president Scott Marshall approached the Iroquois Falls native about joining the staff.
Prior to that, he spent time as a farmer and worked as a by-law enforcement officer for the Town of Iroquois Falls.
“Bruce was a volunteer that out of the goodness of his heart gave everything to the Eskimos hockey team,” said Eskimos director of hockey operations Don Ducharme.
Renwick was a volunteer who “gave out of the goodness of his heart everything to the Eskimos hockey team.”
He built things like a skate dryer and a portable skate sharpener, which the club took on road trips.
“He did things like that, which were just totally innovative,” said Ducharme. “There was only a few of us who really understood what happened behind the scenes.”
He was a big part of Eskimos family.
Ducharme remembers fondly how Bruce did “everything” and how he used his farmer’s ingenuity to help the club.
“He went to the dump and found stuff to keep the dressing room operating,” recalls Ducharme. “We never had to worry about washers and dryers. He always managed to find some or fix them for us. He was a really handy guy.”
Renwick spent a lot of time keeping the dressing room in shape with constant renovations.
He is credited with turning chunks of the Jus Jordan Arena into Eskimos’ property over the years.
Ducharme recalls, “I remember this whole area (dressing room and trainers area) used to be part of the arena for other things and he slowly, in his way, confiscated it and turned it into an Eskimos organization.”
Renwick was everything to the club.
He would be at the arena during the course of a day doing laundry, while fixing and reparing everything.
He also spent time training trainers over 17 years with the club, but it was over the last couple of years when he became ill that he couldn’t do the things he always did.
“Never once did he not do what we asked him to do,” said Ducharme with watery eyes. “He was a caring man, but he let you find out for yourself and he let you make mistakes so you could learn that way.
“He was always willing to show you how to do things. If you asked a question, he would give you the shirt off his back to help you with any situation.”
However, “he always managed to be there for his family and the team.”
His dedication was much appreciated by the club and the more than 250 young men and staff the he mentored and cared for over his 17-year tenure with the club.
Some of his achievements with the Eskimos include being named to the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s second all-star team as a trainer during the 2003-04 season.
Then in the 2005-06 season, he was selected as a trainer on the first all-star team.
“We are all lucky to have him when we had him,” said Ducharme. “He will be missed.”