James Frances was born to Hubert and Theresa Hannon on October the 4th, 1928 in Placentia, Newfoundland. Jim’s father ran a business in the town delivering furnace oil while his mother was a homemaker who cared for her family as well as her ailing father. When Jim was six years old, his father Hubert passed away quite suddenly from heat stroke. Jim attended school at Southeast Elementary School in Placentia until his mother met and remarried a Naval Officer who was serving at the Navel Base in Argentina, Newfoundland. When his step father’s service was finished the family packed up and moved to Boston, Massachusetts. Life was good in Boston but Jim longed to return to his old stomping grounds where he felt more at home. Jim attended Dorchester Elementary School in Boston, but school was not Jim’s favourite thing to do, and neither was the city for that matter. So, as soon as his mother agreed, Jim looked for a job so he could save enough money to return to Newfoundland, his old stomping ground. Jim soon found employment at a company called Sathan Heat and Electric. Jim stayed until he finally earned enough to make his way back home to Placentia. In Placentia he stayed with is Uncle while looking for work. He was truly happy to be back home but Jim was not a fisherman and he realized that there were few jobs to be found other than fishing. Friends and relatives convinced Jim that the good jobs were in Ontario, so he made the long trek to the bustling city of Toronto.
Jim had many jobs while in Toronto. He was working at a gas station for quite awhile when one of the customers told him that the C. N. R. was hiring men for extra gangs and that he could make some real money. His take home pay at that time was $66.00 every two weeks. Jim was hired by the C. N. R. soon after. While working as a labourer for the C. N. R. gangs, Jim answered a posting for a job as a section man up north. That meant stability, a house, more money, and time to make friends…so off he went again to a small place just north of Britt, Ontario called Cranberry.
In 1963, Jim moved to Cranberry, Ontario; a dot on the map about 10 miles north of Britt. There he met the Newtons, a great family who took him under their wing and more or less adopted him. Jim first visited Parry Sound with his boss William Newton Sr. and his family. While visiting with the Newton’s grandparents, he met Susan Virgo – the girl next door. This is about the time that Jim started attending hockey games at the Old Parry Sound Arena. While attending one of those games, Jim struck up a conversation with one of the locals by the name of Norm Creasy. Norm told him that Alex Eager, the owner of the Juniors, was in need of people to drive the players to out-of-town games. Always willing to help out, Jim gladly offered his services. Alex supplied the cars and Jim was more than happy to volunteer. Jim saw this as a bonus, since he was now able to see the out-of-town games as well. Many times Jim would finish work up north, hop a freight train to Parry Sound, walk to the arena and be just in time to jump in a car and drive to Huntsville or Bracebridge with a load of players. Jim would then get up at 4 a.m., to go to the station, catch a north bound train and get back to Cranberry just in time for work. That was the beginning of his association with hockey in Parry Sound.
From this point on Jim spent as much time at the arena as possible. He would even come down in the middle of the week. Especially during playoffs! It wasn’t long before he found himself helping out in the dressing rooms and soon crossed the ice to assist on the bench. From one junior team to the next, Jim was there helping in anyway he could. Somewhere during the early years he was stamped with the name “Frosty”, and as many people know, the name has stuck like glue ever since. Frosty also assisted with Intermediate teams, the Trapper’s Choice Oldtimers team and the Parry Sound 45’s. Sometimes the team games would overlap but he would make sure everyone was looked after. The coaches Frosty assisted were many: Norm Bradley, Ray Barks, Ron Guy, Ian Mills, Glen Taylor, Hawk Tabobondung, Jim Dewar, and many others. Coaches and players alike benefited from Jim’s dedication.
On June 28th, 1969 James ‘Frosty’ Hannon married ‘that girl next door’, Susan Virgo and put down roots in Parry Sound where he still lives today. His dedication to hockey never faltered. It didn’t take long before Sue became just as involved. She attended as many games as she could and took on the washing and mending of jerseys so the teams always showed up clean and proud front while representing Parry Sound all over the district. Not surprising that around town she became known as ‘Mrs. Frosty’: a name she is quite proud to answer to today. In 1972 a son was born to the Hannons. Young Steve was bundled up and taken to most of the games and soon become quite a hockey fan. As soon as Steve was old enough, Frosty took him to practices and games. Steve officially became the Junior’s Stick Boy and was given the name, ‘L’il Frost’. Today he goes by ‘Frost’ – he is not so little anymore. In 1978 the Hannons were blessed with a daughter when Crystal was born. They now had the ‘Millionaire’s Family’. When it was time to go to the hospital, Susan had to call the arena where Frosty was watching Industrial Hockey. Not too many games were missed by Frost, L’il Frost, Momma Frost, and Baby Frost. They were a real hockey family and their arena trips were truly family outings.
After his retirement from the C. N. R. in 1993, Frosty found a way to enjoy hockey in the summer months. Hawk Tobobondung and Gord Zulak recruited him to help at the Humphrey Summer Hockey Camp. This was one of Frosty’s favourite experiences. Not only were the kids willing to listen and learn; but it meant hockey started one month earlier than Junior Boot Camp.
As the years move on, Frosty has never lost his lost of the game. He spends many hours in the seat that the town so wonderfully had plaqued for him. Be it Novice, Bantams, or Midgets, you will find Frosty there as emotionally involved as if it were the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Frosty is still in charge on Sunday mornings with the Northlanders Oldtimers where he makes sure they have all the right sweaters, water, pucks, and, most importantly at their ages, their braces and medical supplies.
These days it’s certainly more of a struggle for Frosty to get to the arena. Long hours on the railroad over the years have taken their toll on his knees and hips. But he loves the kids and the game at all levels and is always a familiar sight in his spot behind the glass.
Frosty – Dedicated to the Love of the Game!