Senior Scope - Useful and Entertaining Information.
A publication for older adults in Manitoba, Canada. Available in print or as a digital download.
Home button
V8N13 - May 24-June 20, 2010:

Spotlight feature:
Tom Heffner
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Bodybuilding Champion Heffner: “Just Do Something.”

By Scott Taylor

Tom Heffner

When Tom Heffner’s weightlifting partner Cal Schmidt suggested they check out the Manitoba Body Building Championships, Heffner wasn’t in the least bit interested.

After all, this was a decade ago and Heffner was no longer a bodybuilder. After winning “Best Legs” at the Manitoba Provincial Body Building Championships way back in 1974, Heffner had grown into a powerlifter. Nobody made more noise in the gym— Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Athletic Club—than Heffner and Schmidt as the two gargantuan lifters tossed boxcar loads of big, round 25-pound steel plates around the free-weight room. Their groans could be heard all the way to the parking lot as they lifted heavier and heavier iron bars. And those bars creaked under the pressure of the plates.

Heffner was a manly man. He was 55 and weighed a rock solid 270 pounds. He’d even won a couple of the strong man contests he’d entered. He was no longer a guy who paraded around in a Speedo posing with his artfully constructed physique hoping that a table full of judges appreciated the effort.

“We’re going,” Schmidt said. “I already bought the tickets.”

Little did he know at the time, but with his insistence, Cal Schmidt created a national bodybuilding champion. And not just a one-time champion: Tom Heffner is the current six-time Canadian champion who will likely see his seventh straight National Masters title next year.

Heffner is a rare beast. An athlete all his life, his devotion to sport and competition didn’t pay him back until he was almost 60. But when he started to win, there was no stopping him. And now, as he prepares to fly to Turkey in order to compete in the World Masters Championship, Heffner trains differently, eats differently and even acts differently than the strong man who made more noise in the gym than a convoy of 18-wheelers.

“It’s a different kind of training,” Heffner said softly, over coffee, at a local restaurant late last month. “I don’t lift the huge weights I used to lift. My nutrition has changed dramatically and I’m very careful about what I eat. When I got back into bodybuilding, I weighed 270. When I competed in, and won, my first bodybuilding competition a year later, I weighed 184 pounds. It’s a different sport altogether than powerlifting and those strongman competitions. You can just tell by the way I train.”

These days you wouldn’t know Heffner was in the gym. A guy who once couldn’t find the stairmaster, is now a guy who won’t get off it. Heffner, 65 and retired from a job he held at the City of Winnipeg for 21 years, is now lean and cut – a combination of proper training and nutrition – and while he’s lived a life of sport, he’s only now, been given the chance to be an international winner.

“I grew up on Lanark St. and when I was young, I thought I’d be a hockey player,” Heffner said. “I lived right a across the street from Sir John Franklin Community Centre and I’d skate on that rink every day. The school was right there and we’d get home from school and skate until we had to go to bed.”

But like so many kids in the 1950s, there was such a limited future in hockey that his interest waned when it became clear that, at 15, he was never going to be good enough to make it in the six-team NHL. So by the time he got to junior high, he’d fallen in love with cross-country and track.

After junior high, he signed up for the industrial design course at Tec Voc where he was asked by legendary Manitoba high school coach Arnie Taylor to join the school’s cross-country and track programs.

But Taylor also had another job for the big, strong ex-hockey player.

“He asked me to play football, too,” Heffner said. “I’d never played before, but I thought I’d give it a try. Arnie saw my size and quickness and wanted me to play defensive end. My job was simply to chase down the quarterback. I was pretty good at it.”

After a tremendous high school career, Heffner played two years with the junior Weston Wildcats. When the Wildcats program folded, he thought his sporting life was over, but then he got a surprise call from Peter Watt, the man who ran the Manitoba Senior Football League’s highly-regarded St. Vital Bulldogs.

Heffner jumped at the chance to play with the Bulldogs and was rewarded with four straight Canadian Senior titles and, in 1970, at the age of 25, he got a chance to try out for the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“In those days, local Canadian guys were little more than training-camp blocking bags for the players who were going to start,” Heffner said, laughing. “I had a pretty good camp, but they made me a centre and I was behind Paul Robson. There was some thought that they wanted Robson to be a full-time linebacker and I might have had a chance to stick, but I broke my arm and that was it. In those days, they had no room for injured Canadians and I was done.”

Not surprisingly, after his arm healed, the lessons he’d learned from 10 years of playing competitive football, were still a big part of his daily routine. He found he still enjoyed lifting weights and working out in the gym and he soon embarked on a part-time career as a bodybuilder.

After winning “Best Legs,” in 1975, however, he seemed to have developed a desire to get bigger and stronger. His workouts got more intense, the challenge was altered from sculpting the body to building large muscle mass and he found that the success he was having in powerlifting and strong man competitions were much more fun – and less exhausting – than the time and effort required to turn one’s body into an oiled-up temple.

But that’s when his pal Schmidt decided to attend the provincial bodybuilding championship.

“I went with Cal and I studied the bodybuilders,” Heffner said. “Then, I got a real surprise. I realized that there was age group competitions and one just for me – Masters or over-55. I looked at those guys and thought, “I could train for less than a year and beat those guys,’ and that’s what I decided to do. Although it took a little longer than a year.”

First, he became Manitoba champion and then, in 2004, he heard about a competition called “The World Qualifier.” It was actually a fancy way to say Canadian Body Building Championship, so he entered. He was second in 2004 and then won the Canadian Masters title in 2005. He has been Canadian champion every year ever since and has represented the country at World Championships in Hungary (twice), Sicily, Czech Republic and Poland and this December will travel to Turkey for his sixth World Championship appearance.

“I think Tom is a pretty remarkable guy,” said Neil Dalrymple, a personal trainer and the manager of Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Athletic Club. “He’s a role model for a whole lot of people.

“He used to be a great big guy who never worried about his nutrition or how he trained. Now, he’s a very healthy person who is proof that you can get healthier as you get older as long as you take care of your nutrition and work out regularly. He’s not all that rare, either. A lot of mature people have done very healthy things as they’ve grown older. It’s never too late.”

It certainly hasn’t been too late for his wife Darlene. While other women watch her husband parade around in his Speedo, she’s not the least bit concerned. She’s absolutely thrilled that (a) he’s in the remarkable physical condition he’s in and (b) she gets to accompany him on his travels to some very exotic places.

“Yeah, he looks pretty good for 65 doesn’t he?” said Darlene, who has been Tom’s better half since 1972. “I don’t have any problem with what he does, at all. I’m actually enjoying my part of it.

“I get to travel with him to all the championships he attends. We’d never been to Europe until he’d won his first World Qualifier in 2005 and we got to go to Budapest, Hungary. It was a wonderful city. We’ve been all over Europe since. We usually go in late fall and the weather is just right. For me, this has been terrific.

“By the way, be sure to mention his legs. Everywhere we go, people just say, ‘Wow, how did you develop those legs?’ They’re incredible. I wish I had legs like his.”

It IS pretty incredible. So incredible, in fact, that Heffner now has a lot of trouble just looking at his birth certificate.

“I don’t feel 65 and I don’t feel comfortable around people who don’t train like I do,” said Heffner with a tiny smile. “I’m in the gym every day with young people and I now have more in common with them than people my age. I feel like I’m 20. It’s all about being active. I mean, just get active. It will change your life.”

(Read more in the May 24-Jun 20/2010 issue of Senior Scope)


Hotel Key Cards?

Ever wonder what personal information is encoded on your hotel key card? The following chain email has been circulating since 2003 and has been proven false
over and over again.


“Ever wonder what is on your magnetic key card?

A. Customer's name
B. Customer's partial home address
C. Hotel room number
D. Check-in date and out dates
E. Customer's credit card number and expiration date!

When you turn them in to the front desk your personal information is there for any employee to access by simply scanning the card in the hotel scanner. An employee can take a hand full of cards home and using a scanning device, access the information onto a laptop computer and go shopping at your expense.

Simply put, hotels do not erase the information on these cards until an employee reissues the card to the next hotel guest. At that time, the new guest's information is electronically 'overwritten' on the card and the previous guest's information is erased in the overwriting process.

But until the card is rewritten for the next guest, it usually is kept in a drawer at the front desk with YOUR INFORMATION ON IT!”


In my experience while travelling in Canada, hotel key cards only contain the room number and sometimes the check in/out dates. Upon receiving the above email I called a number of Manitoba based hotels, both independent and large franchise names, and was told by each one that they don’t encode anything other than the room number. This only makes sense as there would be no benefit to having personal or credit card information on the cards as these particulars are already retained on the front desk computer. If you have concerns about what information will be encoded on a key card the next time you check in, then simply ask and in my experience they will tell you.

Cst. Ben Doiron
Winnipeg RCMP
Commercial Crime Section

(Read more in the May 24-Jun 20/2010 issue of Senior Scope)

Financial Planning Solutions

Top 10 TFSA Tips
BRIAN G. KONRAD CFP, Financial Consultant

With the introduction of the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), Canadians now have more options than ever before to help them save money and reduce taxes. Below are the Top 10 TFSA Tips you should know:

1. Use your tax-refund wisely. Use the tax refund from your RRSP contributions to invest in your TFSA for an optimal combination of growth and flexibility.

2. If you have used-up all of your RRSP contribution room and are looking for additional investments, ensure you use-up all of your TFSA contribution room prior to investing in non-registered accounts.

3. Resist the temptation to dip into your TFSA. The TFSA offers more flexibility than RRSPs and therefore there are fewer barriers to discourage an individual from accessing the money. Remember, the longer your investments sit uninterrupted, the longer you may benefit from the positive effects of tax-free compound growth. Discipline and a clear objective are essential when investing within a TFSA.

4. Procrastination can be costly, so make your TFSA contribution early in the year. The sooner you put your money into a TFSA, the sooner you stand to benefit from the effects of tax-free compound growth. If you can’t do it all in January, monthly contributions can also be effective.

5. Ideally, you should use your full allowable contribution room each year. But if you don’t, you will accumulate unused TFSA contribution room that can be used at a later date. When possible and if it fits your financial strategy, strive to maximize your TFSA contributions.

6. Investing in a TFSA during your accumulation years could help reduce claw-backs on income-tested benefits such as Old-Age Security and Age Credits when it comes time to withdraw retirement funds. Because returns on investment within a TFSA are non-taxable, they will not be included as part of your net income, potentially saving you money over time.

7. Unlike RRSPs, there is no age limit on making contributions to a TFSA. In fact, you can contribute well into your retirement years, helping you save for shortterm goals like that dream vacation, a new car or even home renovations. The income generated from investments in your TFSA is tax-free, therefore it will not affect your federal income-tested benefits such as OAS or Age Credits.

8. If you anticipate that your marginal tax rate will increase at a later date, you may benefit by saving through your TFSA rather than making additional RRSP contributions. That’s because the tax reduction that your RRSP
contribution may generate now may be less than the tax reduction it could generate later on.

9. Make a contribution for your spouse or common-law partner. You can contribute to a partner’s TFSA without affecting your own contribution room. Income attribution rules which govern RRSPs do not apply. This can effectively double your family’s TFSA annual contributions if one partner cannot afford to make such an investment.

10. Get expert help. In most cases, the TFSA is an investment vehicle that should compliment your current retirement strategy, not be the primary focus. To find out what’s the best strategy for you contact an Investors Group Consultant.

Financial Consultant
(204) 489-4640 ext. 246

Stephanie Graham
(204) 489-4640 ext. 267

This report specifically written and published by Investors Group is presented as a general source of information only, and is not intended as a solicitation to buy or sell specific investments, nor is it intended to provide legal advice. Prospective investors should review the annual report, simplified prospectus, and annual information form of any fund carefully before making an investment decision. Clients should discuss their situation with their Consultant for advice based on their specific circumstances. Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with mutual fund investments. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated.
™Trademark owned by IGM Financial Inc. and licensed to its subsidiary corporations.
“Beware of the “Clawback”!” ©2007 Investors Group Inc. (09/2007) MP1029
1. You may also be taxed on capital gains dividends that may be periodically paid by the Fund.

(Read more in the May 24-Jun 20/2010 issue of Senior Scope)

William J. Thomas

Fred - the master of senior moments

Fred is a friend of mine. Soldier, lawyer, innkeeper, sailor and now golfer – Fred just turned 87 years of age. He winters in Florida at Boca Raton, summers in Port Maitland along the north shore of Lake Erie and in between leaves people in both countries shaking their heads and laughing.

Fred is soft spoken, well read, quick to smile and sends me invitations to Happy Hour at his Pinky’s Bar that end with the caveat, “Should you choose to decline, further action will be taken.” I did mention he was once a lawyer. Like many men who become young boys again once they retire, Fred requires constant adult supervision. That would be Bert, Fred’s wife.

Fred was a Captain in the Royal Canadian Air Force, a pilot who flew the Lancaster Bomber during WWII. The roar of the four Rolls Royce engines as well as too many night runs over German munitions factories and weapons depots all but destroyed his hearing.

A few summers ago I took Fred to an air show in Dunnville where they trained Allied pilots during the war. I approached a pilot flying a Tiger Moth, the same small plane Fred had taken his basics on. I told him about Fred and he told me he’d be honored to take him up for a spin.

After he gracefully declined the invitation saying it would be an inconvience and he wasn’t dressed for it plus there was the matter of insurance, Fred finally turned and whispered in my ear: “I’m afraid of heights, okay.”

Recently Fred got up very early to golf with Bert’s son on Florida’s Sanibel Island. Fred and Bert had just arrived at Scott’s house the evening before and he was rooting though their luggage in the dark trying to get dressed without waking up his wife. Bert of course was awake and listening to all the commotion. When Fred was finally dressed and ready to go, he opened the bedroom door and enough light came in to allow Bert to see his outfit.



“You’re wearing my pants.”

The large silver buckle on the back of the khaki Capri pants was a bit of a giveaway. It’s almost too bad Bert caught the wardrobe malfunction because Fred, in a pair of women’s pants would have so unnerved the other golfers, he’d likely have won the match.

I can’t remember if this happened before or after the day Fred took a mighty fairway swing, missed the shot and returned home covered in black muck from the pond he fell into. It must have been after because before that Fred got all banged up after he fell out of a golf cart when he failed to hear the driver start it up.

Meanwhile, back on their patio in Boca Raton enjoying a late afternoon drink with Bailey, their three-year-old Maltese poodle mix at their feet, Fred noticed a big, ugly raccoon climbing the fence which separates their property and the golf course where he volunteers part-time as a starter. Fred thought it strange that the raccoon was roaming around in daylight, but the animal climbed behind their brick pool house and disappeared.

Then suddenly it was there, running toward them and mauling the little dog. As fur flew and blood splattered, Bert and Fred became locked in a tug-of-war trying to extract the dog from the clutches of the raccoon. Bert ended up with a bleeding dog in her arms and Fred, sensing the raccoon was mad with disease and far from spent wrestled the animal into the pool. From the shallow end he managed to drag the animal to the deep end where, in hand-to-claw battle worthy of an episode of Sea Hunt, he drowned the vicious raccoon. War vet 1, rabid raccoon 0. Fred received half his rabbis treatments while in Florida, half when he returned to Canada that spring.

You and I will probably never find ourselves in an underwater death roll with a crazed raccoon but … these things happen to Fred.

Thanks to his buddy Dr. Dave Hurst, Fred received a set of hearing aids paid for by Veteran Affairs here in Canada. They malfunctioned during his winter in Florida so he mailed them back to Canada for repair. Weeks passed, Christmas came and Fred got a notice from the local U.S. post office, located in a nearby pharmacy, that a package from Canada awaited him. Any postal package coming from another country carries a customs label and raises questions. The very large, female postmaster holding Fred’s package in her hand, had just one question.

“What’s in the box?”

Fred didn’t hear the question, so he asked her to repeat the question. There were quite a few people in line behind him.

“What’s in the box?” She was practically yelling now.
Fred again did not hear the question and now he noticed about 20 people in that corner of the store were focused on this loud exchange with the postmaster.

“What’s in the box?” screamed the woman that turned heads in all corners of the store.

“Oh,” said Fred, “these are my hearing aids. I’m really lost without them.”

The postal employee broke up, the crowd laughed long and hard and then in the spirit of the season Bert says, they all began clapping and cheering.

That’s Fred, a walking, talking, not-hearing-too-well Kodak moment.

Remember the old I Love Lucy show? Yeah, well almost everyday Fred comes home, he’s got lossa splainin’ to do. And yes, Bert’s new nickname is Ricky.

William J. Thomas lives in Wainfleet, Ont.
For comments, ideas and copies of The True Story of Wainfleet go to

(Read more in the May 24-Jun 20/2010 issue of Senior Scope)





Senior Scope - highlighting the programs, services and savings for seniors.

Anyone who is a senior or knows a senior enjoys reading it. And who doesn't have a parent, grandparent, relative or friend who isn't aging? Better yet, who isn't aging? We all are.

Senior Scope offers useful and entertaining information with a focus on active, inspiring individuals, 55 and over, who are happy to share their stories.

Send your comments or story suggestions to






















Home | About | Archives | Events | To Advertise | Contact | Links










Senior Scope
Publisher: Kelly Goodman
Phone: 204-467-9000
Box 1806 Stonewall
Manitoba, Canada
R0C 2Z0