Stu Crawford—the ultimate Gael—celebrated at KCFF

The legacy of Queen’s star hockey player Stu Crawford lives on through film  

Stu Crawford was a player, World War II Veteran, and Queen’s Men’s Hockey Coach.
Stu Crawford is the most legendary name in Queen’s Men’s Hockey, and filmmaker Mike Downie is the latest to celebrate his legacy.
On March 5, Downie showcased three short films at the Baby Grand Theatre in the Kingston Canadian Film Festival. The program included an excerpt from Gord Downie’s Secret Path in Concert, his comedy short Jesus on a Fish Stick, and a premiere of Downie’s new documentary highlighting a Queen’s Men’s Hockey legend.
The 14-minute film showcases the story of Stu Crawford—a renowned figure often referred to as “The Ultimate Gael”—and his enormous legacy. The film, titled A Century in the Making: The Stu Crawford Story, comes after he passed away in November 2022 at 100 years old. 
In the film, Crawford reminisces about his past life as a World War II bomb aimer. He recalls a perilous experience that almost took his life when he was only 23: jumping out of a Lancaster with only a parachute as his plane was being shot down on a mission to Hamburg. 
Crawford tells his wildest stories and shares his inner-most feelings in the film, contrasting his time at war with his time as a Queen’s hockey player, drawing parallels between the teamwork required to succeed in both experiences. 
The inspiration for the film came to Mike Downie when he read about Crawford’s inspirational story in the Queen’s Alumni Review. 
“Stu’s story is not just a Kingston story, it’s a Canadian story,” Downie said in a news release.
“It’s about hockey, but it’s also about resilience, and teamwork, and courage. Being able to share his incredible story at these festivals is truly an honour.”
Mike is an award-winning filmmaker who attended Queen’s for his undergraduate degree alongside his brother Gord Downie, the celebrated lead singer of the Tragically Hip. Downie has produced many well acclaimed documentaries, including The Secret Path, Invasion of the Brain Snatchers, One Ocean, and The Hockey Nomad
For the Stu Crawford film, Downie worked alongside many Queen’s Alumni, including Mickayla Pyke, ArtSci ’26, Jacob Akman, ArtSci ’20, and Kalin Moon, ArtSci ’07.
“I really thought we should put together a team of Queen’s people,” Downie said in a Q&A panel after the showing.
“We’re a team of filmmakers, some are kind of old, some are really young.” 
The documentary beautifully portrayed Crawford’s gentle and unassuming character while also cementing his enormous legacy as a Gael. As a celebration of his remarkable contributions to the program, the men’s team room in the Memorial Centre was officially named “The Stu Crawford Team Room” on his 100th birthday last March.
“This is a permanent testament to the character of Stu Crawford, and a constant reminder for the players to look to when they enter the room of what it means to be a Gael,” Men’s Hockey Head Coach Brett Gibson said in a press release. 
Stu Crawford’s two contrasting life experiences as a Second World War hero and a Queen’s hockey legend create a beautiful and inspirational storyline, jam-packed with history. A Century in the Making: The Stu Crawford Story was played in Mitchell Hall during Homecoming Weekend this fall, eliciting laughs, tears, and smiles from the audience. 
The documentary is a must-watch—catch it at the Belleville Downtown Docfest in early March. 

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