Steve Stonebreaker is a football name.

DiMag and the Mick are baseball names.

Some names don’t need any other further I.D.

Bono and Sonny were joined at the hip and Cher doesn’t need a last name.

An article in an international newsmagazine, I think it was “Time,” at
least a decade ago, declared a name such as Chip Glass could never be an archbishop. It just didn’t fit.

So what are you trying to say, Corbett?

When I was born in Truro, Nova Scotia way back when, my mother named me
Kerwood MacDonald Corbett. What a handful!


“Kerwood-da from Pictou-a,” was a thorn in my side as I grew up in the
small seaport of Pictou during WWII.

Of course, school kids can be cruel with their remarks.

Then as the years gathered on me, I sought other names to overcome my mother’s penchant for naming me. Don. Mac. Woody. They all sounded better
than Kerwood.

In high school years, there was a popular show — “Tom Corbett, Space Cadet” — and that was another tag I couldn’t live with.

However, out of that anguish came the name — Kaye — when I learned some
favorite football players of my era were named Kaye or a derivation of it.
There was O.K. Dalton, Kay Stephenson, who would coach the CFL’s Edmonton
Eskimos during 1998, and Ottawa lineman Kaye Vaughan.

How could I run out onto a football field with people yelling, “Kerwood,
Kerwood, Kerwood?”

That’s how Kaye Corbett came into existence.

There still was the nagging question of just who this Kerwood was?

In 1985, an English pastor and his wife visited my farm near Edmonton,
Alberta, and the conversation turned to people’s names. “Oh, you’re named
after a famous English writer,” she said.

“An English writer?” I asked.

During a lifetime, most people look for their roots.

In 1992, I started looking for Kerwood.

What I didn’t know at the time, that my mother somehow misspelled Kerwood
as in James Oliver Curwood and he was an American wilderness writer from a
small, sleepy town of Owosso, near Flint, Michigan.

Suddenly, my interest in this writer began to grow and since I lived in the
Toronto at the time, I would travel to Owosso on an almost monthly basis.
The quest for my namesake became almost insatiable.

While searching the local library, I discovered a dust-covered book, “The
Grizzly King,” written by in 1916. It would later become an international
favorite movie, “The Bear.” It was the only novel by Curwood I could uncover at the time.

While the world might have forgotten him, his hometown didn’t, even though
he died in 1927.

Owosso resident Ivan Conger introduced me to this fascinating man, who
over his lifetime wrote 33 wilderness and romance novels, based on his experiences, mostly in the British Columbia wilderness, about 200 miles north of my present-day Falkland, B.C. farm.

Conger, a tall giant, has kept Curwood’s memory intact as a historian, and
every year JOC is remembered with a three-day festival in early June in Owosso.

The novelist was one of two famous sons, who lived besides the Shiawassee
River. The other was would-be U.S. president Thomas E. Dewey.

As in everyone’s life there were two turning points in Curwood’s life.

In “Son of the Forests,” he wrote:

“In the ninth year of my life came an event of importance. I “got religion,” as the experience was then called — so hard that I became a seven-day wonder in our rural community. Revival meetings were held at Joppa (Ohio), a mile distance from our farm. At a night meeting, when the
excitement of the audience had reached a high pitch, I gave the most amazing exhibition that the “Holy Ghost” had entered into me. Leaping suddenly to the platform of the little country church, I loudly proclaimed
my salvation. If ever a boy was inspired, I was. No ancient prophet saw his
marvelous visions, now preserved to us in Holy Writ, more clearly than I

saw mine, I believe.”

Then he continued, “That first night of my salvation I went home cross-lots, unwilling to share the highway with anyone. I was unafraid of
dark fields and ghostly woods for an angel went with me. She was tall and
of great beauty. Her wings and flowing robes were white as snow and her beautiful long hair streamed in golden splendor about her. She was there to
guide and protect me. Of what should I be afraid? My exaltation was complete.”

However, the experience began to wane for Jim after his “Huck” pals began
teasing him.

“They laughed — and laughter directed towards me, after my experience at
Joppa and my walk with my beautiful angel, meant a fight. I had two or three a day. And how I could fight when thus inspired! But the flesh is weak though the spirit be strong, and I couldn’t whip everyone into seeing
matters in the same way I did. As I began to wear down I received with greater frequency drubbings which were good for my soul, though not administered with any such intent, nor so taken at that time. Slowly but

surely I was pummeled back to mental health.”

In later life, he began to worship Nature.

Judith A. Eldridge in her 1993 non-fiction account, “God’s Country and the
Man,” was precise in describing his second life-changing experience.

“When the wounded bear he faced on a mountain ledge that day turned aside,
James Oliver Curwood’s relief was that his life had been spared. More than
that resulted from this encounter; his life was profoundly altered. Curwood
was already 35 that summer of 1914, and already a well-known author of Great Lakes fiction and non-fiction and novels of romance and adventure set
in the Canadian north. Now he would become an avid conservationist in the
early days of that movement, a change that would directly lead to his death
13 years later.”

On Saturday, Aug. 13, 1927, Jim Curwood died from possibly a sting or bite which caused leg and kidney complications.

In 1905, his first novel, “Falkner of the Island Seas,” was published in
book form and in the following 17 years some 32 other novels were published. They included: “The Courage of Captain Plum” (1908), “The Wolf
Hunters” (1908), “The Gold Hunters” (1909), “The Great Lakes” (1909), “The
Danger Trail” (1910), “The Honor of the Big Snows” (1910), “Steele of the
Royal Mounted” (1911), “Flower of the North” (1912), “Isobel” (1912), “Kazan” (1914), “God’s Country — and the Woman” (1915), The Hunted Woman” (1916), “The Grizzly King” (1916), ” Baree, Son of Kazan” (1918), “The Courage of Marge O’Doone” (1918), “Nomads of the North” (1919), “Swift Lightning” (1919), “The River’s End” (1919), “Valley of Silent Men” (1920), “The Flaming Forest” (1921), “The Golden Snare” (1921), God’s Country — the Trail of Happiness” (1921), “The Country Beyond” (1922), “Back to God’s Country” (1922), “The Alaskan” (1923), “A Gentleman of Courage” (1924), and “The Ancient Highway” (1925). After his death, three novels were released — “Son of the Forests” (1927), “The Plains of Abraham” (1928) and “Crippled Lady of Peribonka” (1929).

After leaving his Detroit newspaper career, he began his novels and spent
as much as six months a year in the wilderness and built log cabins in the
remoteness of British Columbia and Quebec.

Besides becoming one of the most highly paid novelists of his generation,
he was also a prolific screen and magazine writer.

However, following his death in his 49th year, his memory quickly faded;
however, his hometown of Owosso remembers him well with an annual festival and his “writing castle” beside the Shiawassee.

Now, excuse me while I take another look at “The Grizzly King.”

Kerwood’s a great name, Mom. However, I still think a kid should be a number until he’s at least 10 and then he or she can pick their own name.
How about Kareem Abdul Corbett?

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.