Eddy Eustace, authentic to the core

Eddy Eustace skiing. ©Courtoisie

The Eustace family, of Scottish descent, had lived in Montreal for generations when Eddy was born on December 21, 1933. His father Scott and mother Marie Marguerite Keel – from Antigonish, Nova Scotia – met when she was at the Montreal General Hospital, completing her training to be a nurse.

Eddy was the only boy among the family’s four children. Surrounded by three sisters – Pat, Jene and Lionna – Eddy soon found that sports were assuming a central role in his life. Like many young Quebec boys, Eddy found that a love of hockey was part of his very being and he turned out to be good at the sport.

He made it into the pro circuit and played for the Royals – the Montreal Canadiens farm team. He was there with Scotty Bowman, Eddie Johnson and several others who became members of the National Hockey League. But Eddy was realistic: he understood that if you hoped to have a career in the NHL, you needed to be pretty impressive: Henri Richard and Marcel Dionne were exceptions.

Eddy, a charming, up-and-coming young man

The Summerlie golf club, originally located in Montreal, moved to Vaudreuil-Dorion. Friends who were golfers and members of the club suggested that he apply for a job at the golf shop. His happy mood and easy smile made him a popular employee. It’s there that he discovered the joys of the sport. A natural athlete, he learned fast.

When the summer ended, Eddy had to find a new job. He learned that the Gray Rocks ski shop was looking for a reliable, handy employee. Eddy applied for the job and was hired. The store manager was Willy Legaré and the two men became instant friends; it was as if they’d known each other forever. And that’s how Eddy discovered a new sport: skiing.

He returned to Summerlie for several summers and it was there that he got his golf pro card and began his career teaching golf. After Summerlie, he became an assistant pro at the Hunt Club in Ottawa and Beaconsfield. But come winter, he would return to Gray Rocks.

The ski school was at that time led with a master’s hand by Réal Charrette. Eddy, now a passionate skier, had the benefit of advice from top-level, accredited instructors. At noon, he would join his instructor friends on the mountain and as a result, quickly went from being a novice to being a level 4 instructor, accredited by the CSIA (Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance).

Eddy Eustace, Tremblant, 1964. ©Courtoisie

But it was at Mont Tremblant in 1958, at the age of 25, that he began his career as a ski instructor under Ernie McCulloch. Eddie was now a true-blue Mont-Tremblant citizen. In the 1960s he built a house beside Lac Ouimet.

In the summers, he was now a golf pro on the Gray Rocks golf course and he remained in that position for 40 years. He participated in golf tournaments and came in – among other successes – second in the Quebec Open at Laval sur le Lac in the ‘60s.

When Réal Charrette (member of the Laurentians Ski Hall of Fame) retired, it was Eddy who took over the lead, becoming the director of the famous Snow Eagle Ski School of Gray Rocks.

During all this time, he had two children: Anne-Marie and Catherine. He was once again surrounded by girls. And everyone loved Eddy. His openness and kindness, to employees as much as to customers, were legendary.

Always ready to help, he wasn’t stingy with his tips if they could improve our game. I remember a golf game at Gray Rocks where I was trying to hit the ball while on the side of a hill. Let’s just say it wasn’t going well. Eddy approached me, pulling his golf bag, and said gently, “Maybe if you positioned yourself like this and placed your arms like this….” It’s a golf lesson he provided with a smile and advice that I still apply.

Eddy had a habit of saying: “The National Hockey League, the Olympic Games, the professional golf tour – they’re not for everyone. So why not practise all these sports, just for the enjoyment?”

Whether on a golf course or a ski run, Eddy understood people, no matter who they were, where they came from or what level of aptitude they had. He was humble and non-judgmental and his smile was real and everyone could feel it.

Eddy passed away on September 4, 2019. He remains fixed in my memory, this authentic, unprejudiced man. While I admire the talented athlete he was, it is his qualities as a human being that I miss the most.

 

More from this author by clicking on his photo below.

Peter Duncan

 

Peter Duncan93 Posts

Membre de l’équipe canadienne de ski alpin de 1960 à 1971, skieur professionnel de 1971 à 1979 et champion américain en 1965, Peter Duncan a participé aux Jeux olympiques de 1964 à Innsbruck ainsi qu’à ceux de 1968 à Grenoble. Intronisé au Temple de la renommée du ski au Canada, au Panthéon des sports du Québec et récipiendaire de la médaille du gouverneur général, Peter a longtemps été commentateur de ski à la télévision./ Peter Duncan is a Canadian former alpine skier who competed in the 1964 and the 1968 Winter Olympics. He was named to the Canadian National Alpine Team in 1960 at the age of 16 and competed at the national level for the next 10-years until 1970 before retiring.

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