George Springate, as a McGill student-athlete in 1967 and a citizenship judge (R) in 2011. Springate, who-among many other things-was a politician as well as a citizenship judge and football player, died Wednesday. (mcgillathletics.ca)

George Springate, a man of many lives, is dead at 81

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George Springate, a Montreal original and a master of reinvention his whole life, has died at 81.

Springate began edging his way into Montrealers’ collective consciousness in the early 1960s doing English public relations for the Montreal Police on the city’s local private English TV channel, CFCF.

“Remember,” George used to tell us.

“If you drink, don’t drive……or you’ll have us for a chaser.”

And so it began.

Springate first came into prominence as a television spokesman for the Montreal Police in the early 1960s. (National Assembly/YouTube)

Before he was done, Springate would graduate law school, play football and win a Grey Cup with the Montreal Alouettes, take a gutsy stand for English rights as a member of the provincial legislature and finish his professional career as a citizenship judge.

And oh yeah, he also worked as a CBC sportscaster, a football coach, a law professor at McGill University and at John Abbott College, where he founded the police technology program.

Those are the things we know about.

Given who he was, he very likely provided more than his share of help to anyone who might need it, minus any public credit.

I knew George professionally both as a cub police reporter at the Montreal Gazette and as a colleague at the Montreal Daily News.

Springate is seen being in the lead up to the 1970 Grey Cup. (CBC Archives)

The thing about George was–he never forgot the best of his working class roots.

Status never impressed him

He was not the kind to pull rank.

George, who became a Member of the Order of Canada in 1989, finished up living in the West Island suburb of Pierrefonds, where there’s a street named after him.

Springate, far right, greets a new Canadian during a citizenship ceremony in August 2018.(Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada)

So, perhaps, the last word should go–not to a high-ranking politician–but to Pierrefonds-Roxboro Mayor Jim Beis.

“It was never about him,” Beis told Global News.

Indeed, it wasn’t.

Springate didn’t showboat.

He’s going to be missed by a whole lot of people in a whole lot of different places.

With files from CBC, Montreal Gazette, CTV, Global,

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