I wasn’t a friend of Gordon Pinsent but I knew him. I had followed his career and, through the course of my life, had met him a few times. Our paths crossed. On one memorable occasion, we were at dinner together. We broke bread, as the expression goes. He was a wonderful, endearing dinner-mate who gave much to our table. The occasion was an event to introduce Gordon, who was hosting an NTV-produced program called The Fishery Now. The dinner was held at an upscale St. John’s restaurant called The Cellar. I was there with my wife, Judy, and a small group from the station to meet Gordon Pinsent. What an evening it was. He was one of the most generous and entertaining people I have ever met. He was a very nice guy. Through the course of the night, Pinsent never talked once about himself or his many accomplishments. He didn’t travel any avenue that led to discussions about his own career. The one exception was that he didn’t mind talking a bit about live theatre and the need for actors to put back something into that line of on-stage acting. I could see immediately theatre was his first love.
Instead of talking of his many and varied accomplishments, Pinsent instead wanted to talk with everyone else seated at the table and what they did. Specifically, he wanted to know what OTHER people thought about everything under the sun. I did tell him a story about my days doing an all-night show in radio and how his album Roots got overnight play because some of the cuts were longer than the standard one minute 15 seconds of AM radio and you actually had time to make yourself a coffee while Gordon’s music was playing. He told me with a smile that he was delighted to be of service.
It was a very small group that night at The Cellar dinner, maybe eight or nine of us. I remember a marvellous kind of “dinner party question” he asked of people. To me he said that I made my living in front of the public in radio and television but he wanted to know what I might like to have done in some other field had I not wandered into broadcasting. It was an amazing question for the table because it gave me insight into the thoughts and dreams of others at dinner, including my wife who as I remember identified law as the road not taken.
I was raised watching Gordon Pinsent because as a child of the 20thcentury shows like The Forest Rangers and Quintin Durgens M.P. were part of my life . I knew early that he was very good and I knew in a vague sort of but important way that you could be anything you wanted to be. You could be a big star if you were from a small central Newfoundland town and you had the talent and the will to make it happen. Pinsent had the qualities. Many in recent days have said that he showed the way to many. That is so very true.
Gordon Pinsent was funny. He was well read, polite and, above all, he was thoughtful. I had the impression he really enjoyed the dinner. It was not just an act. The food was great and there was lots to drink and the conversation was fabulous. Now since Gordon Pinsent died and tributes have flowed the word “ impish” has surfaced. He was that. It appeared at our dinner. There was always in his eye a kind of twinkle. That is a good thing to have. Perhaps in the end, when all is said and done, a twinkle will tell us much about a remarkably talented Newfoundlander.