By the Way


264 pages
Contains Photos, Index
ISBN 0-7737-2647-0
DDC 792'.092




Reviewed by Terrence Paris

Terrence Paris is Public Services Librarian at Mount St. Vincent
University in Halifax.


“I’m goin’ to eat my lassy bread on the way to the Nickle, if I
had a dime to get in.” As a boy growing up in the company town of
Grand Falls, Newfoundland, Porky (young Gordon’s nickname) nurtured,
in the local movie house, fantasies of being a screen lover and hero.
“You’re going to be a blind man going to the movies so much.”
“No, I’m not. I’m going to be an actor!” In 1948 the 18-year-old
Pinsent emigrated from the Crown colony to Canada. After enduring bouts
of manual labor in the Maritimes and Toronto, and a brief and almost
fatal term of service as a private in the Royal Canadian Regiment, he
made his theatrical debut in the Winnipeg Repertory Theatre, which in
turn led to acting jobs at the Manitoba Theatre Centre, the CBC, the
Stratford Festival, and ultimately six years “consumed by absence of
opportunity” in the Hollywood lotusland.

To the many Canadians who accept the stereotype of the Newfie
scallywag, Pinsent and his character Will Cole in The Rowdyman are
inseparable. (Pinsent wrote the screenplay and the novel.)
Disappointingly, there is little of the Rowdyman’s exuberance in this
autobiography. Pinsent seems somewhat reticent when sketching the many
theatre and television people he has encountered over his long career,
as if fearing to give offence to anyone living or dead. Even his own
kin, so lovingly portrayed in the first chapters, disappear completely
from the narrative after the teenaged Gordon leaves the Rock. The most
successful chapter in the book, apart from his account of growing up in
Grand Falls, is devoted to a reminiscence of his friend Wally Cox
(television’s Mister Peepers), whose sad decline from sitcom celebrity
to Hollywood Squares has-been is recalled with insight and compassion.

The usual anecdotes adequately suggest the ad hoc nature of live local
network programming, but provide too little substance for those
interested in reading about the pioneer days of television drama in


Pinsent, Gordon., “By the Way,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,