John Ashbridge, VHS 1964 The Voice of the Canucks


You might not know his name, but you know his voice

By King Lee, VHS 1958

Many Vic High voices have been heard in the hallways of the school and on Victoria radio airwaves. Some are familiar: Hugh Curtis at CJVI and C-FAX, Alan Perry at C-FAX, Ray Orchard, former Vic High principal Keith McCallion at C-FAX, Gordie Tupper at CKDA and CHEK-TV, Brian Dance at CBC Radio, John McKeachie at CKDA, Gerald Pash at CKDA, and myself King Lee at CKDA. But none will have a less recognizable name and more recognizable voice than John Ashbridge from the Vic High Class of 1964.

If you’ve attended a Vancouver Canucks NHL game or listened to a Canucks television or radio broadcast, John’s distinctive and booming voice was heard over the arena public-address system for more than three decades before his death due to cancer on June 5, 2018 in New Westminster, BC, three days short of his 72nd birthday.

John was born June 8, 1946 in Hastings, Sussex, England, but immigrated to Victoria at age five with his family. Believe it or not, his career in broadcasting began as he started attending Central Junior High School. He’d become interested in radio, and began hanging around AM radio station CJVI on Fort Street as a bit of a ‘gofer’, doing whatever he could to help and to learn, and actually worked there 1960-1961.  The station, which operated from April 1, 1923 until 5:05 p.m., Sept. 2, 2000, was eventually sold to Canadian broadcasting giant Rogers Communications Inc.  It became CHTT, or better known as JACK-FM (103.1).

Eventually his persistence and willingness to help and learn landed him an  ‘on air’ gig at C-FAX while still attending Vic High. He was allowed to announce the time and weather during breaks in the elevator-music format of the day. Meanwhile, back at Vic High, his grad write-up said:  John is a member of the grad choir, as well as one of Mr. P’s “labourers” in the equipment room. He also served as manager of the Totems this year. Outside of school, John works for C-Fax radio, and his future lies in the field of radio and TV production.”

Helen Edwards, chair of the Victoria High School Alumni Association and a Grade 12 classmate of John, admits she did not know him at Vic High, but got to know him when she was writing a book about Victoria’s hockey history. “He helped me quite a bit,” Helen said.

Sandra Barge Lauder, who lives in Alberta, remembered John as a great biology lab partner in Grade 12 because he loved cutting up specimens. “He had a great sense of humour and he always had me laughing,” Sandra said. She also recalled his amazing ‘radio voice.’ Sandra lost touch with John until around 1989. She was on a ladder painting the interior of their new house and listening to the Canucks playing her beloved Montreal Canadiens, when she heard a familiar voice, got down off the ladder, and walked towards the TV. It was John Ashbridge,  introduced as the Voice of the Canucks. “I couldn’t believe it!”, said Sandra. They reconnected until his passing in 2018.

Dan Soberg, VHS 1964,  also remembered John from Vic High. They both lived on Moss Street in Fairfield, and Dan often gave John a ride to Vic High in his $75, 1951 Austin, which occasionally needed a push. And Gerald Pash, VHS 1962, remembers John as a fellow student interested in radio. “I worked at CKDA 1962-64,” he says, “and would visit John occasionally on the week-ends when he was operating the control board at C-FAX.”

John worked at C-FAX until he graduated from Vic High, and from there his career took off. At 17, he started reading the news at Vancouver radio station CJOR (600 AM), and spent a year there before moving on to CKNW (980 AM). His long career there was interrupted several times: three years in Prince George, a year in Australia,  and three months as news director at the ill-fated C-FUN Radio, which had adopted an all-news format after its rock-music glory days. In 1997 and 1998, John flew to Japan with the Canucks to perform announcing duties in Tokyo.

John had become the Canucks’ in-house announcer in 1987 at the Pacific Coliseum, and also did announcing stints with the Vancouver Giants junior Western Hockey League franchise as well as the occasional Vancouver Canadians’ baseball game. His two favourite broadcasting memories were announcing the late Queen Elizabeth’s ceremonial puck-drop at a game against the San Jose Sharks in 2002, and announcing the gold-medal hockey game between Canada and the United States at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Photo courtesy of NHL website.

In his later years, John returned to Victoria as a guest at some of the annual Association of Former MLAs of British Columbia dinners held at Government House. He must have had some great stories to share there. And he was kind enough some years back to speak at the memorial service of a woman who had worked in radio for many years. We’re told the woman’s grandson was blown away when the ‘Voice of the Canucks’ gave a wonderful testimonial to his grandmother at the service. He’ll have that memory all his life.

In Tom Hawthorn’s Globe and Mail obituary on John, Tom recalled an interview with the Nanaimo Daily News in which John was asked what he liked about the being the Canucks’ announcer. “I have a front-row seat, I have an unobstructed view, I’ve had a pre-game meal, they’ve provided me with parking. Does it get any better than this?”

Courtesy Gord Lansdell’s Vancouver Broadcasters website, here is John’s radio itinerary:

John Ashbridge – Operator at age 13 CJVI Victoria 1960-61; on air C-FAX Victoria 1962-64; CJOR Vancouver 1964; general announcer CKNW New Westminster 1965-67; C-FUN Vancouver 1967; CKNW 1967-70; News Director CJCI Prince George 1970-73; CKNW 1973-80; television news Australia 1980-81; news then senior newsman and Manager Network Operations CKNW 1981-2005; retired from radio; public address announcer Vancouver Canucks 1987-current; PA announcer Vancouver Giants 2004-current.  RTNDA Lifetime Achievement Award 2005.

Here’s a link to live radio interview with John.

And a few links to articles about John.

CBC: (this one includes a video of that famous voice) Longtime Vancouver Canucks PA announcer John Ashbridge dead at 71 | CBC News

Global News:  (some great tributes from colleagues in this one) Legendary broadcaster and voice of the Canucks John Ashbridge dies at 71 – BC |

NHL: (this one written by former TV sports announcer Bernie Pascall) Remembering John Ashbridge |

Vancouver Is Awesome: (lots of great tweets about John here) Here are 13 heartfelt tweets remembering broadcaster John Ashbridge – Vancouver Is Awesome

Puget Sound Radio:   Iconic Broadcaster/Canucks PA Voice John Ashbridge Dies at 71 – Puget Sound Radio