A man of our times
by Brian G. Spare
When I went to Jack Masters’ home for our interview, I was welcomed in by him and his wife Kay. Jack and I spoke for two hours solid and we could have gone for another two. He had many stories and insights to tell me, only some of which I have room to tell you.
Jack (John) Masters is a lifelong resident of Thunder Bay except for six years in Beardmore (1936-42). He married his wife Kay Whatley on September 4, 1953 and they raised four children, Susan, Diane, Gerald and Scott. Over the years Jack has watched Thunder Bay change and grow from a perspective few of us get to see.
Jack was General Manager of CKPR/CHFD TV. His broadcasting career started in radio (1952-60) and television (1960-76). I best remember him hosting the “Around Town” part of the news hour. He then became a manager for a General Insurance Agency. In 1980 Jack entered Federal politics and was elected to a term as Liberal MP for Thunder Bay-Nipigon. His parliamentary career saw him appointed by Prime Minister Trudeau as Parliamentary Secretary under two different ministers. In 1984 he ran successfully as Mayor serving two terms as Mayor of Thunder Bay (1984-91). After his terms as Mayor, he was Marketing and Sales Manager for a large condominium project.
Jack shared with me his insights gleaned from his experiences. “My years in broadcasting made me a global citizen,” Jack said. Being in federal politics showed him that you have to look at the big picture. The most satisfying work for Jack Masters though, was his two terms as Mayor. “I worked with some very good people,” he reminisced. What he liked most about being Mayor was working to unify the city, encouraging civic pride and improving the image of Thunder Bay.
Treat people with respect … always listen.
Jack Masters’ spoke with me about his views for success in public office. “The best way to get along with people,” he said, “is to treat them respect. They will respect you in return. Always take the time to listen to everybody and make them feel that they count. Take the time to go and see people where they live and work.”
He added that, as an elected official, visit all departments and facilities. Although it’s nice to construct new buildings and roads, never forget to maintain what you already have. Once you fall behind with maintenance, it is very hard to catch up. Constantly look for ways to streamline city planning and doing business.
“It is essential to have a good city council and a good administration. The system doesn’t work unless you have both parts working collectively to come up with a plan and follow it.”
Thunder Bay … a world player.
I asked Jack for his thoughts on what he sees for Thunder Bay’s future. He started by saying that Thunder Bay is no longer a backwards little town but a world player. City council and administration know this and work ambitiously together with this in mind. They are very conscious that Thunder Bay is the hub of Northwestern Ontario and that our prosperity benefits all of the Northwest, and we must play a leadership role in this region’s development. Jack sees the city pushing in the right direction although he can’t agree with all council does. “In the big picture, they do a good job,” he said.
As Thunder Bay grows, it is becoming more culturally diverse. Jack sees this as a good thing. “We must always be conscious of all cultures,” he said. With a developing mining sector, medical school, university, college, abundant natural resources and a good way of life Jack asks, “What don’t we have?”
A people person
Jack Masters is a family man at heart and describes himself as a “people person”. He has lived a full life and he lives life to its fullest. At age 81 he shows no signs of slowing down. When he isn’t enthusiastically involved in family activities, you can find him riding his bike along his eight mile route of the neighbourhood, playing hockey Sunday mornings with the CKPR Red Eyes, or his Tuesday and Thursday hockey group at the First Nation’s rink.
On September 4th of next year Jack and Kay will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. It’s a milestone few of us achieve and a testament to their commitment to each other, their family and life itself. I know I speak for everyone in congratulating Jack and Kay and wishing them many more years of happiness together.
As I see it, with the world at our doorstep, Thunder Bay is poised for a bright future. We can rightfully take our place as a leader in our region, our country and as a player on the world stage. These are exciting times for our city.
Thank you to Jack and Kay Masters for their time and hospitality in assisting me with this article.
Brian G. Spare is a local author and freelance copywriter and editor who is a regular contributor to Bayview magazine. Contact him at https://BrianGSpare.com
*Previously published in Bayview Magazine*