Anyone who meets Cyril Goodyear is surprised when they learn that the vibrant man is 93 years old.
An outspoken and energetic outdoorsman, he has dedicated the majority of his life to supporting the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. A natural storyteller and the author of several books, Mr. Goodyear shares a lifetime of memories, coloured with his wicked sense of humour.
“Lou Stuckless lives in Grand Falls. He was the last one to join the ranger force,” he said. “There are only two of us left, so if he passes on, I will be the lone ranger!”
Mr. Goodyear is jokingly referring to the Newfoundland Ranger Force, a sometimes forgotten piece of Newfoundland and Labrador’s history.
The Newfoundland Ranger Force was created in 1935, and was intended to bolster the Newfoundland Constabulary in the policing of rural communities and outports. More than just police officers, the rangers acted as a link between the people and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.
There would generally be one ranger per detachment who took care of everything from law enforcement to issuing government documents, along with responding to medical emergencies and sometimes even delivering babies.
Criteria for joining the force was strict and once accepted, the new recruits completed three months of military-style training before entering a five-year contract, subject to renewal.
Mr. Goodyear served as a ranger in Battle Harbour, Labrador, for the last five years of the force’s existence.
Though he went on to serve as a RCMP officer, chief provincial court judge, deputy attorney general, deputy minister of Northern Affairs and mayor of Deer Lake, it was his time as a ranger that had the deepest impact on his life.
“I worked in different positions for over 45 years, and the best group of people I have ever worked with were the rangers,” he said. “I learned more in that short period of time than you could learn almost anywhere. That particular role was the one that had the greatest influence on my life.”
The Newfoundland Ranger Force was disbanded in 1950 as a cost-saving measure following Confederation. Even after their dismissal, the rangers continued their service, this time by supporting the education of the next generation of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
“We set up a Newfoundland Ranger Force Association with the ex-rangers and one of the things we did was set up the Newfoundland Ranger Force Scholarship Fund,” said Mr. Goodyear.
“I’ve written a number of books and have also arranged for the royalties to go into that fund, and I’ve provided for a $50,000 amount in my will, to go to Memorial University. This is all part of what the rangers did. They were the motivators for me, the older guys on the force.”
“It was important to these aging men to keep the memory of the N.L. Ranger Force alive.”
Now awarded at a minimum amount of $1,000, the scholarship has been supporting students at Memorial since 1993. To be eligible, all candidates must be residents of Newfoundland and Labrador entering their first year of studies at Memorial. Over a remarkable period of 25 years, the Newfoundland Ranger Force Scholarship has made a difference in the lives of 53 students.
Rangers Norman Crane and Ches Parsons, in particular, were instrumental in establishing the scholarship.
Daphne Crane, senior instructional designer with the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning at Memorial, is the daughter of Ranger Crane. She remembers how important the scholarship was to her father and the rangers.
“The members of the association wanted to offer an entry scholarship at Memorial and they worked hard at fundraising,” she said. “Very often they donated money out of their own pockets. It was important to these aging men to keep the memory of the N.L. Ranger Force alive.”
Community of potential
Nathan Hollett is a second-year mechanical engineering student at Memorial; he received the Newfoundland Ranger Force Scholarship in 2016.
He credits the support as critical in giving him the flexibility to participate with student teams like Eastern Edge Robotics and Paradigm Hyperloop.
“I’m proud to be associated with the Newfoundland Ranger Force through my recognition,” said Mr. Hollett.
“Receiving support like this allows me to excel in my program by giving me the freedom to focus on developing skills and being involved with student groups. By giving to Memorial, you’re contributing to so much more than a university. Your contribution supports a community of people with the potential to do great things.”
Through students like Mr. Hollett, the scholarship is a living memorial, not unlike the university itself. The legacy of those brave young men who dedicated themselves to the service and protection of Newfoundland and Labrador continues.
It’s a legacy set by men like Cyril Goodyear, a true humanitarian who has given just about everything he has to this province.
“In the ranger force, we had to keep an official daily diary. I kept a personal diary, as well. They became one of my books, a memoir called Sometimes I Forget,” said Mr. Goodyear. “I put all of my original diaries and photos in a museum in Deer Lake, for the community. So I have very little of anything left, except the memories.”