Canada's first sports columnist Jim Coleman, revered for decades by his colleagues and cronies, has been memorialized by a collection of his writing, The Best of Jim Coleman (Harbour, 2005), edited by Jim Taylor, one of his most ardent admirers. The veteran, cigar smoking sports commentator published an autobiography, Long Ride on a Hobby Horse: Memoirs of a Sporting Life (Key Porter, 1990), as well as A Hoofprint On My Heart and Hockey Is Our Game.

Coleman's 70-year writing career entailed stints at the Vancouver Province, Edmonton Journal, Edmonton Bulletin, The Canadian Press, The Globe and Mail and the Southam Newspaper chain. He more or less refused to retire. His final column appeared on the day he died at age 89 on January 14, 2000 of heart failure.

Born in Winnipeg in 1911, Coleman was the son of what he called "rich but honest parents." His father, D.C. Coleman, was the President of the Canadian Pacific Railroad and would often take Jim and his younger brother Rowan to sporting events via private railway. The kids saw everything from hockey and football to baseball and boxing. Jim loved all the sports, but nothing compared to his love of horse racing.

His first experience at the racetrack was at age ten when his aunt, Ella Grant, took him to Brighouse Park on Lulu Island. In Hoofprint On My Heart, Coleman wrote, " may be wondering how anyone can get hooked on horse racing at the age of 10 or so and then go through an entire lifetime without shaking the habit. It's easy, really. All you require is the spirit of perseverance."

Educated in a Victoria private school and at McGill University, Coleman was known for drinking, playing poker, smoking his cigar and his love of the ponies. He had to swear off drinking in the 1950s. A recipient of the Order of Canada, Coleman was inducted into Canada's Horse Racing Hall of Fame, the Canadian Sports and Newpaper halls of fame and the media divisions of the football and hockey halls.

[BCBW 2005] "Sports"