Long Ride on a Hobby-Horse: Memoirs of a Sporting Life


278 pages
ISBN 1-55013-179-5
DDC 070.4'49796'092






Reviewed by P.J. Hammel

P.J. Hammel is a professor of Education at the University of


The first part of this work, entitled “Life on the Railroad,”
consists of one chapter; “A Railroader’s Sons.” Here we learn that
Coleman and his brother spent much of their early lives in the
vice-president’s railroad car and railroad hotels. Consisting
primarily of anecdotes from his early life, with no particular
chronology imposed, this section presents little evidence of a special
interest in sports.

The second part, “Life in the News Media,” does impose a
chronological framework: the chapters follow Coleman’s journalistic
career from Winnipeg to Vancouver to Edmonton to Toronto and points
East. Here, however, the details of Coleman’s career are overshadowed
by his recollections of memorable characters—in journalism and in
sports—and of the legends surrounding them.

The other three parts of the book deal, respectively, with football,
hockey, and horse racing. Again, the emphasis is on characters and on
anecdotes, which Coleman recalls with a great deal of affection.

Except for the broad structure imposed by the five sections, the
anecdotes read almost like a stream of consciousness. Transitions from
one character/anecdote to another are often abrupt and unclear.
Characters like Good Kid Louie, Whitey the Pest, and Hopalong Archie
Wetstein give the work a Runyonesque quality—a redeeming feature for
some readers, no doubt. Anyone really interested in Coleman as a person
will find this work unsatisfying; those who enjoy reading about the
unusual characters often associated with the journalistic and sporting
life will appreciate it.


Coleman, Jim., “Long Ride on a Hobby-Horse: Memoirs of a Sporting Life,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 14, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/10877.