Roch Carrier Brings the Hockey Sweater to Sherbrooke Academy Jr.'s Grade 2 Classes

by Dan Mullins

On a suitably cold and snowy winter’s day in February, famed author of the children’s classic “The Hockey Sweater,” Roch Carrier, visited the Grade 2 classes of Sherbrooke Academy Junior.

The event, an organizational coup overseen by teacher Jackie Dunsmore, saw most of the approximately sixty students in attendance wearing Montreal Canadiens hockey jerseys, as were their teachers and student teachers. The young Roch Carrier, as described in the story, would have felt just as singled out had he been wearing his abominable feuille d’érable.
After an introduction by Laurence Assouline, the school’s principal, Ms. Dunsmore oversaw the proceedings. The assembled students, who participate in the school’s Français Plus model of French immersion, listened attentively as the charismatic author read “Le Chandail de Hockey” in the original French, describing his misadventures on the ice while wearing the dreaded blue and white jersey that Maurice Richard “mettrait jamias sur le dos,” which had been sent in error by M. Eaton.

M. Carrier is an Officer of the Order of Canada, has also served as head of the Canada Council, the National Librarian of Canada, and has had his work featured on the previous version of the Canadian five dollar bill. Having just returned from a tour in Toronto, he was exceedingly patient and generous with his time, answering students’ questions and posing for photos.

Text on the bill, from Roch Carrier’s ‘The Hockey Sweater’ reads:

“Les hivers de mon enfance étaient des saisons longues, longues. Nous vivions en trois lieux: l’école, l’église et la patinoire; mais la vraie vie était sur la patinoire.

The winters of my childhood were long, long seasons. We lived in three places—the school, the church and the skating rink—but our real life was on the skating rink.”

“Est-ce que c’est un vraie histoire ?” Jack wondered.
“Oui, c’est une vraie histoire.” Replied M. Carrier.
After shaking hands, Taylor asked “Pouvez-vous nous expliquer l’inspiration pour ton livre?”
“Oh, c’est un belle question,” answered M. Carrier, and continued to explain that since he was “le pire jouer de hockey dans l’histoire du hockey” – the worst hockey player in the history of the universe – he had decided there would be no hockey stick in his hands, so he needed something… and he chose a pencil.

At the end of the event, it was clear that the 85 year-old author, whose youthful energy belies his age, greatly enjoyed the song about hockey which the students sang.

Also in attendance were members of the media from the Suburban Newspaper, the Montreal Gazette, and Global News along with Assistant Director General of the LBPSB, Carol Heffernan.