Our History

Canada Tour 1971


During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s Brynaman Rugby Club was indeed fortunate to have a truly forward-looking Chairman – Viv Price – who was always exploring new avenues along which the club could progress. In 1969 he responded to an advert that appeared in the local ‘South Wales Guardian’ – an advert posted by one George Jones, a native of Llandeilo, but long since emigrated to Brantford, Ontario, Canada. George wished to bring his Brantford Harlequins on tour to Wales, and it was Viv who accepted the challenge of arranging it.

By September 1969 Brantford had arrived in West Wales, and having beaten several local teams they arrived at Brynaman full of confidence. However following a hard and exciting game the Canadian Tourists’ run of victories came to an abrupt end as they were defeated by 21-6 by the ‘Greens’ on the 10th September 1969.

The ‘South Wales Guardian’ report at the time attributes their demise to ‘‘conditions which they would have feared the most, as they failed to stop a Brynaman side whose forwards dominated the loose play and whose backs were obviously more at home with a slippery ball’’.

Despite the result, the novelty of the fixture had indeed captured the imagination and most certainly helped to accelerate the planning for the reciprocal tour which eventually took place in August 1971.

Unable to get a team purely of Brynaman players, the party was eventually an amalgam of players from local clubs, particularly Llandybie under the Captaincy of Geoff Davies and Coach John Elgar Williams.

What follows is former Brynaman RFC Trainer Jimmy Callingham’s personal account of the tour which although not definitive undoubtedly gives a unique flavour of the hospitality and generosity afforded to all the party.

In this regard I would like to express particular thanks to Ashley Callingham for his permission to reproduce this unique individual account which has only recently come to light.

Diolch yn fawr

Andrew Roberts


** Extracts from the centenary publication ‘ Brynaman – The Village and its Rugby’ reproduced by kind permission of John Elgar Williams.

*** Please note that this is an initial draft summary of the tour events, where I would be most grateful to receive any photographs or indeed individual recollections to supplement this account. For further details please contact me by email on andrew51163@hotmail.com or via the Clubhouse on 01269-823342.


Canadian Tour 1971

Friday/Saturday 13th/14th August

After nearly 2 years of preparing at long last the day came for us to start on the long awaited trip. We checked in at the Pensioners’ Hall at 8.30pm on the Friday evening and a very wet one it was too. There were three coach loads of players and supporters 122 in all and we had a good send-off even though it was such an awful night. Off we went at 10:15 picking up some people in Morriston and then off to go. We arrived at the Top Rank Café on the Severn Bridge at 1am where we all had a good meal. Off again at 2.15am, some trying to have a snooze others waiting for the Lions Test on the coach radio. What excitement when the Lions Scored! They made a 1/- (one shilling) sweep for the first player to score and Jimmy won! We go to Gatwick Airport at around 7am, so we had quite a wait for our flight which was supposed to go at 12:30pm but we were still at the airport sitting in a Caledonian Boeing 707 at 6:15pm – six hours late. At the airport we met Brynwel Davies, Tudor Davies’ son who is a Customs Officer there and he was very helpful. The Stewardess brought us lunch at about 2pm which consisted of duck and oranges, peas, celery, roast potatoes, coleslaw, tomatoes, cucumber, smoked salmon, bread roll and butter, cheese and biscuits, strawberry and cream trifle, tea and coffee. What an experience when we finally got off the ground and after such a wet start and such a long wait it was nice to get some action. Flying at 31,000 feet flying towards Liverpool, weather fine and clear all the way. Time now, twelve minutes to seven o’clock – Canadian time five hours back twelve minutes to two. High above the clouds and they really look like snow. Over half way over the Atlantic at 33,000 feet and 530 mph, had a light tea at 7pm British time. This was a sausage roll and a cake with some table wine. Lemonade is called 7Up in Canada but you could have any drink you liked. Travelled 3,200 miles 46 tons of fuel and 22 miles of toilet paper! Arrived in Toronto airport at 9pm Canadian time, (instead of the 3pm) making it six hours late. The coaches were waiting to take us to Brantford which was 65 miles from Toronto. There was a dinner laid on for us, but once we found our hosts we were able to go straight to their house for a cup of tea and off to bed.

Sunday 15th August

Church in the morning: we all turned up and were congratulated about the singing. The altar flowers were given by Brantford Harlequins RFC in memory of D.R.Jones ‘Dai Renee’ and one of their Canadian boys who was killed in a car accident two years before. We wandered around finding our bearings all afternoon, and everyone looked amazed at us because we were walking: they even go across the road in a car! In the evening the parents of one of the boys laid on a party for us in the Moose Lodge. They’re great ones for salads but there was also lots of different types of meat. The Canadians like the singing and John Elgar Williams and Alun Tudur Jenkins led the boys in a sing-song.

Monday 16th August

We had to be at the City Hall Brantford at 11am to meet the Mayor of Brantford and we were taken around the City Hall. The Mayor presented Viv Price as organiser of the tour, a plaque of the City of Brantford. The New City Hall opened in 1967. Lunch laid on at the Moose Lodge given by the City of Brantford then did some shop-gazing. Things looked about the same price as home.

Tuesday 17th August

Lake Ontario is 40 miles wide and 150 long. Water comes from Niagara and goes out to the St. Lawrence river. Coldest water in Canada! Had a nice afternoon in the sun on the shore of the lake, and had a meal in the clubhouse of the Balmy Beach Rugger team. Chicken, mash mixed veg and celery in some kind of sauce with rice pudding and raisins after it along with coffee of course. We were also served tomato juice before the meal. The game was at 7pm and Brynaman won by 37-6. After the game there was a dance and general get-together.

Wednesday 18th August

Day off. Leisurely breakfast then went into the ‘Kerby’ to meet Viv and Marion. Did a bit of shopping and went to the pool to sunbathe. Then back to the people we were staying with for supper at 6pm. After supper we went to an auction.

Thursday 19th August

London today – introduced to the Mayor in the City Hall then lunch at Labatts Brewery. Kentucky Chicken, roast potatoes, beans and coleslaw followed by apple pie. Then there was a film show ‘Canadian Football’. Game at 6pm. Score was Brynaman 32 London 6 followed by dinner-dance in Wonderland Gardens. Loads of food – even spare ribs!

Friday 20th August

Tour of the Carling Breweries in Toronto where there was a lunch laid on for us. Plenty of all sorts of meat: and the salads of course. All meals served with salads! Then on to the Canadian National Exhibition which was really fabulous. Ontario Place was the place to see it: built on the lake with a bridge crossing over to it. Oh, the things to see there well words can’t describe it. The cinema there was like a great round ball, the screen was huge and when the film was shown about North of Superior, you’d think you were in the plane with them. Also shooting down the rapids, going down in a bobsleigh and into a forest fire. The fair, well I haven’t seen anything like it – Porthcawl and Barry are not a patch on it even Blackpool. The highway into Toronto – there are fourteen lanes, seven each side, and the traffic on them is nobody’s business. We started back at 8pm arriving back in Brantford at 9.15pm. We were glad to see bed believe me. One huge building had an exhibition similar to the Ideal Home Exhibition in London, another building showing horses. Well we couldn’t get round it all. All the stalls in the fair had soft toys as prizes all shapes and sizes.

Saturday 21st August

This was the big day when both 1st and 2nd rugger teams played in the afternoon as a 21st celebration of the Brantford Rugby Club. It was sweltering about 90° and we were really burned up. The 2nds won but the 1sts lost. It was the first time either of the teams had lost. One of the players dislocated his shoulder and Derek Noble had to have fourteen stitches behind his ear but he played on until the end of the match. After the game we had a get together to meet everyone and lots of people from different parts of Wales had come to see the game. Norma and Marie’s sister and her husband also came down. They had newly come back from a holiday in Florida and looked really well. We then went back to our digs to change into our evening things to go to the dinner and dance. We had a great time and of course we all had to sing for them. In all there were well over a thousand people there.

Sunday 22nd August

A rest day and George Fleet and family took Marian and Viv Rees and us to Lake Erie, where we had barbecued hamburgers cooked out in the open along the lake shore. There were loads of people there and the funny thing was to see waves coming in to the beach: you’d think it was the sea. It blew cold and there were black clouds overhead so we packed up and they took us to see the Graham Bell Homestead where the telephone was first invented. Brantford is a very historical place. The Kerby Hotel where most of the party stayed is over 120 years old.

Monday 23rd August

Our trip to Niagara started at 8am.The first stop was Fort George which has been rebuilt and is kept as a museum. We then stopped at a park where you could look over the river and see on one side Canada and the other America. There was a monument there with 246 steps: some of the party went up and they were glad to come down as well. We had a sandwich lunch in the park all supplied by Brantford Harlequins, with tea or coffee and coke or 7up. From there we went on to the Ontario Hydro which uses the water from below the falls to make electricity. The river at this point is 100 feet deep and we were taken down underground in lift to see how everything was done there. It was very interesting. On to the falls and what a sight it was. The American falls come into view first and they are very impressive and then the Canadian Horseshoe Falls as they are called. The first thing we did was go up in the lift which was like a little ladybird climbing up the Skylon Tower, but surprisingly it held 30 people at a time. It was blowing quite rough up there but it was worth it. Everything looked so small on the ground. It was a wonderful feeling if only to be able to say we were there. We wandered around until 5pm when the Brantford people came with a van full of food for us. The inevitable meat and salad but this time we had all sorts of fruit pies to follow. After tea we made our way over to the Horseshoe Falls and most of the party went down in the lift behind the falls. It was a most impressive sight. We then went in an open top train along the street to the Rainbow Bridge where we were able to cross over to American soil. America is much dirtier than Canada – we didn’t stay there very long. It was now getting near the time to get back to the bus and we were all very tired.

Tuesday 24th August

Did some shopping and then went to the game leaving Moose Lodge at 3.30 for Toronto to play against Toronto Scottish RFC. The weather has gone colder. Brynaman won the game 30-6 so they are doing well. All these teams we play give us a supper afterwards. Most times it is meat and salads of all sorts. Another late night as the games are usually played in the evening not starting until 7pm. Kentucky Chicken very nice.

Wednesday 25th August

Morning free so they arranged for us to go to the Indian Reservation at the cost of 1$ which we thought was very cheap. The Indians live in houses the same as the Canadians. Some had lovely houses others just shacks but most of them had smashing cars outside. We then passed a big dump of cars and our driver said that if a car is stolen in town it always ends up on the reservation minus everything but the body. According to the coach driver an Indian can travel back and fore to America without being stopped by customs. He can go where he pleases and if he wishes he could come on to your property and take anything he wanted but he couldn’t come into your house. He pays no taxes. This is all through a treaty signed by Queen Victoria. The Indians make pottery to sell and also Indian leather crafts. The things were very expensive but beautifully made. As there was time to spare the coach driver also took us to the Bell Homestead as most of the people on the bus hadn’t been there. Then back to Moose Lodge to have lunch then off again to the game which we won 18-10. It was a hard game as the Crusaders XV were a good team. Supper again supplied by the home team, turkey and salad – very nice.

Thursday 26th August

Day off and we needed it. Relaxed all day and then at 8pm one of the Brantford girls had arranged a show for Renee, David Harries’ wife because they were on honeymoon. They were all bringing gifts so we all on the tour collected and got one present because of the difficulty in packing, but it was a big surprise for her.

Friday 27th August

Left Brantford at 12pm for Dundas Park where we spent the afternoon. Not a very nice afternoon but the Hamilton Hornets RFC team had laid on a barbecue of hamburgers with all the trimmings with Vanilla or Chocolate pudding to follow. At about 5pm the other bus was to pick us up to go to Hamilton for the last game of the tour. It was played at McMaster University. What a big place it was and still building. The team played a good game and won once more. Again there was a meal arranged at Dundas Air Club. It was a very nice place and we had a change from salad in pie mash and peas. It was very crowded and the boys had to have another sing song.

Saturday 28th August

Lie in during the morning, race around for last minute shopping then the Corn and Wiener Roast at Bill McPherson’s farm in the evening. George and Jen took us there as it was a good way out of town. All the crowd had turned up and we all gathered round the fire and the crochan where the corn and the hot dogs were cooking. Corn seemed to taste much nicer out in the open. It was alovely end to the tour and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Sunday 29th August

Went to church where we all went on our arrival but this time only four were present: Marian, Viv, Clodagh and me. The tour party was leaving Brantford at 1pm to go with the Brantford players to Oshawa and then go on from there to Toronto Airport. We did not go with them as our friends were going to take us to the airport which was about 65 miles away. Instead we spent the afternoon relaxing and watching the colour TV and had a smashing dinner. We left for Toronto at 5.45pm and arrived there at 7.15pm at Terminal One, but to our surprise we were supposed to be at Terminal Three. Having arrived at Terminal Three we could not see any of our party but after a while finally caught sight of a few of them. They told us that our boarding would now be 9.30 so having checked in our baggage we went back to meet up with our friends. The rest of the party then arrived along with some Welsh exiles who were there to wish us a pleasant journey home. In a little corner everyone gathered for a chat and one last round of song which went down well. Then we left our Canadian friends, a few in tears as we waved all the way to our buses which would take us to the plane. Every single one of the party agreed it had been a jolly good time. We arrived in the plane at 10.10pm and took to the air at 10:35pm, arriving home at Gatwick Airport at 9:40am, BST.