About ten years ago, I met a man, whom I considered to be a fantastic photographer. My curiosity peaked and I wanted to learn more about his background. I was surprised at what I discovered. Back then you may have seen him in a mall or at a party, at a school or on the streets of Uxbridge. One thing is for certain, if you saw him you would have stopped and gazed, because he was Superman! Dressed in his blue costume with a big red ‘S’, X-ray glasses and a red cape he was not easy to miss, unless he was in his daily disguise posing to be John Cavers.
Back then, John changed into his Superman costume 50 or 60 times a year, and entertained thousands of people, from children to seniors and all those in between. His magic shows and great sense of humour have earned him a spot in Uxbridge’s entertainment hall of fame.
John was born in Toronto, but moved to Saskatoon when he was five. His father passed away when he was 15 and his mother moved the family back to Scarborough to be near her relatives. “In Saskatchewan I delivered newspapers. One of my customers was Olive Diefenbaker, mother of the former Prime Minister,” John recalls. “In Toronto I sold shoes while going to school.” He paused. “For 75 cents an hour.” He grinned and his thick, grey moustache seemed to go from ear to ear.
After Teacher’s College John taught in North York, and in his later years, worked in Port Perry and Uxbridge. “I would perform magic for kids in my class’” he said and he must have been pretty good, as they asked him to perform at school assemblies from time to time.
One day, while dining at the Ponderosa Steak House, John saw a Superman poster on the wall. Quite intrigued he asked for it, and put it in the window of his classroom door. Kids began to call him Superman and the image stuck.
In the 1980’s the Toronto Star did an article on the would-be Man of Steel, and his reputation soared. “I love seeing both kids and seniors smile in amazement at my magic.” He learned his trait from Lloyd Wilson, a cattle auctioneer many years ago. “I also lead the audience in a sing-a-long, which everyone adores,” he added.
John and his wife Nora have four children and many grandchildren. They live in Uxbridge, and John has been very involved in many charities, including the NHL Alumni, Shoot For A Cure, Special Olympics, Heart and Stroke, Big Brothers and the Uxbridge Educational Trust Fund, in memory of Ryan Waters and Rodney Ashenhurst.
John is extremely generous and very well known in the local entertainment industry. His hundreds of friends include Kenneth Welsh and Walter Gretzky and the late John Allan Cameron. He is faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive. Next time you look up in the sky and wonder if it is a bird or a plane, you will know it is John Cavers.
Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. His show, ‘The Jonathan van Bilsen Show,’ on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube, features many of the people included in this column.