A legendary hockey GM, a city mayor and councillor, an agriculture talk radio host, and baseball manager, Jim Fisher has certainly left his mark on Drumheller.
Born and raised in Olds, Fisher came to the valley in 1958 as the original news and sports director for radio station CJDV, now Q91.
“I’d never been to Drumheller, didn’t know what it was about. But it was an easy choice – they told me it didn’t have many people and I sure wasn’t going to Calgary.”
It wasn’t his work at the station which brought fame to himself and Drumheller, but his role as general manager of the 1966-67 Drumheller Miners. The team which finally brought an Albertan and Canadian title to Drumheller and were selected to represent Canada on a European tour for the Ahearne Cup after winning the prestigious Allan Cup.
“I believe it was the first team to get into communist East Germany during the height of the Cold War,” says Fisher, “it was some kind of feeling when you walked out of your East German hotel with Russian troops on the corner with rifles.”
He says they were fond of Canadians though, and they wore their maple leaf patches proudly and advantageously.
“They said if we were in the NHL, we would’ve finished in fourth that season. But in that era, if you went to university or were establishing a business, it was financially more beneficial to stay home and play senior hockey than go pro.”
After being elected councillor in 1968, Fisher resigned to leave the valley after being asked to help introduce hockey to Salt Lake City, Utah in the Western Hockey League.
“We had to call it ice hockey to differentiate from field hockey, but it took off really well.”
After five years in Utah, he was asked to join the NHL’s Minnesota North Stars organization, but turned it down for a chance to return to Drumheller to continue managing CJDV and get the Stettler station on the air.
Fisher ran for mayor and was elected in 1989, saying his role with sports and radio in the valley helped him win the seat he halfheartedly dropped his name for. He ran against a friend after they discussed how they hated seeing acclamations.
Fisher envisioned Drumheller as becoming a family environment, and was instrumental in constructing the water fountain near the Gordon Taylor Bridge and establishing the Stampede Grounds, both of which are still in strong use today.
“After that, I behaved myself,” he says, explaining how this year will his 30th year conducting 4-H interviews during their youth celebrations. He conducted Canada’s only daily AgriTalk radio show as well. Fishers continues to do radio work today.