Ron Brewer has met life's challenges head on and relished the battles, both on and off the football field. He is a true survivor, and has been that way since the day he was born.
"It was a premature birth and I was left for dead on the table," said Brewer, who was born seven weeks early in 1937. "My mother was hemorrhaging real badly, so they had to look after her. They had put a towel over me, and then a nurse heard me cough. She picked up the towel and gave me a little whack."
It was a rough battle, but Brewer made it through, just like he always would later on in life. "I never had a normal childhood," said Brewer, who was born with no lower lining in his stomach, and endured terrible burns in an accident when he was a year old. As an adult, he suffered many injuries on the football field, as well as a near crippling accident on his farm in 1968, which left him without the use of his left arm for two years. As a result of the accident and a market downturn, he was forced to give up his farm in Waterdown, Ontario and declare bankruptcy.
"It tested your mettle," said Brewer of life's obstacles that had come his way. "No matter how bad it gets, look over the edge. There's a lot more people suffering worse than you."
Growing up in Toronto, Brewer attended Parkdale Collegiate, where he was one of the most highly recruited players upon graduation. He also married young (age 17) and it was a factor in his decision to play with the hometown Argos as a rookie, instead of signing with B.C. for $500 more. He and his wife Sylvia have now been married for 42 years, and have five children (Bill, Ron Jr., Janice, Cheryl and Tracy) and four grandchildren.
A solid, aggressive linebacker, Brewer had two three-year stints in Double Blue, first from 1958-60, and then from 1963-65. "I played with 'Nobby' Wirkowski (the first time), and when he became coach, he traded three guys to get me back," said Brewer, a 1964 all-star who played in Montreal between his Argo years.
Brewer came out of retirement to play with Edmonton in 1966, and finished his career with Hamilton in 1967, where he won his only Grey Cup, 24-1 over Saskatchewan, with a defence that was one of the CFL's best ever. "It was pretty near a fight on the sidelines when the guy gave up the single point," said Brewer.
While Brewer farmed during his playing days, often delivering turnips to town and then going to practice, his accident and hurting finances forced him to switch professions after football ended. He got into radio advertising sales for a while, and in 1971, was persuaded to get into politics, first with the short-lived Action Canada party, and then as a Progressive Conservative. He ran as a Tory in successive elections in Hamilton East and was narrowly defeated.
"I figured out a long time ago that you don't win on the outside," said Brewer, who after politics went to school to study safety and human resources, later working with these companies: Workmen's Compensation Board, Dominion Glass, French Jewellery, Corporate Foods, Fenwick Automobile, and currently, Hayworth. He now lives on a farm in Millgrove, where his hobby is raising standardbred horses, among them Dannielle My Girl and Sea Yahh.
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