The Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library is about a lot more than books. I have been reminded about that constantly since assuming the portfolio of library and culture at the start of my third mandate as a city councillor.
One of the things I wanted to become more involved in programming. We offer some excellent lectures and I was very excited to recommend Bob Benedetti as a potential guest speaker. Bob has lived a most interesting life: airforce pilot, TV broadcaster, mayor of Beaconsfield and now a blogger specializing on matters related to technology.
Well Bob acccepted our invitation and on May 29 he delivered a fabulous "story of my life," complete with a 52 slide powerpoint presentation featuring some great video clips. A surprise member of the audience was legendary sportscaster Dick Irvin, recently presented with the Order of Canada. He is a former colleague of Bob's at CTV Montreal.
Bob started off by sharing with us his special Côte Saint-Luc connection. Pointing to his lovely wife Susan, seated in the second row, he took us back to 1978 when he lived in the area known as the Village - just off Côte Saint-Luc Road near Kingsley. He was doing his grocery shopping at Steinberg's at the CSL Shopping Centre when his cart literally bumped into Susan's. She recognized him from TV and the two got to talking.
"At the cash, I asked if we could see each other," Bob said. "She told me that she was in the phone book. We actually became friends for about five years. After sharing dating experiences, we saw that what we wanted was right under our nose. We have now been together 29 years this coming August."
Bob began his powerpoint and literally began his story with photos of his third birthday, his days as a high school football player (concussions and broken bones galore). His first job was with Bell Telephone, but what he really wanted to do was become a pilot. So he took all the necessary courses and in 1956, for only $300 (with a $100 rebate from the government), he got his pilot's license. That propelled him to pursue a career in the Canadian Airforce.
Bob's claim to fame, of course, were the years he spent as a reporter for the old Pulse News on CFCF (now simply known as CTV Monteal). He shared some great stories of his days in the field, illustrated by a highlight reel compiled by Brian Britt when he retired almost a decade ago. It was not long before he was persuaded to run for mayor of Beaconsfield in 2005. He won and served one term. These days he keeps himself very busy with his excellent blog on new technology.
“Technology has always been a hobby of mine,” Bob was saying. “I remember when I was a little kid going to visit my uncle who worked for Bell I’d head straight for his telephone equipment to play with. I was a pioneer writing about technology long before it became commonplace. For example I was the first reporter ever to write about the original BlackBerry. It looked like a pager back in the late nineties. I used the segment title Tech Talk. Do I ever wish I had registered the name, now everyone uses it. I computerized the newsroom and brought in the first satellite truck called Pulstar. We had a visionary owner who gave us the money to do it.”
Bob is thrilled with the following his Home Technology Montreal blog has achieved, reporting on both personal and car technology. “A lot of my site has reviews,” Bob says. “I get stuff and try it out and I write it in a fun way. People have to deal with technology today, whether it is making a purchase for themselves or as a gift. And there is a lot of technology in cars today. So I take a close look at that as well. I put a particular emphasis on stuff that is available in Montreal.”
Bob has also taken to Twitter. He also designed his own website, spending time getting to know and understand the Wordpress format.
Bob and Susan were happy to make the trip to CSL and escape their home."We are in week four of kitchen renovations," he said.
Here is a video chat I had with Bob last year: