Stratford tips from Alf Humphreys

Acting was Alf’s dream since the age of eight. Once, as a child, he asked God to make him an actor and “in return maybe I can do something for you.” Alf got his wish as he appeared in several movies (My Bloody Valentine, X Men 2, Diary of a Wimpy Kid) and television series (X- Files, Smallville, Outer Limits). Perhaps his most famous role was as Deputy Lester in the 80’s movie First Blood starring Sylvester Stallone. Born in the small town of Halleybury, Ontario, Alf returned with his wife and son to Ontario fromVancouer not long ago.Wanting to be close to his parents and finding a community suitable for his wife’s business, they chose Stratford. Now semi-retired,Alf enjoys meeting people of all types especially over coffee.There’s not a person who goes by without Alf offering a hearty hello.

HOW DID YOU START YOUR CAREER IN ACTING?

In commercials. One weekend I returned home in North Bay, at the time, and was enjoying watching a show on my parent’s black and white television with my friends when one of my commercials came on. I think it was an advertisement for Certs. It was followed by three other commercials all with me in them. I was a star that night, at least in the eyes of my friends.

IF YOU HAD A FREE SATURDAY WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

After coffee at one of the many wonderful cafes we have in Stratford, I would stroll the city taking in many of the details that others may not notice. I particularly enjoy architecture and the many churches in Stratford. I often dream of the medieval ages when I see them.

WHAT’S YOUR FONDEST CHILDHOOD MEMORY?

Being brought up in a small town, I had to rely on my imagination for fun and to keep busy. One day we were told to write a story and then three students were chosen to read them out loud. After the first two stories were read, the teacher asked if the class would like to hear my story. The class responded with applause. I was a popular kid then. Once I finished, the teacher asked for my notebook. She turned it to show the class what I had read.The page was blank. I didn’t need to write a story, I could create a story instantly.

WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR FAVOURITE THINGS TO DO IN STRATFORD?

There is so much to experience here. I have learned to live in the present by accepting many of the invitations this city offers. If there is a bridge, I take it to see where it leads to. If there is an interesting person, I say hello. Stratford is such a fabulous place to experience. It is the photo perfect place.

WHAT ARE YOU READING?

Goners:The Final Hours of the Notable and Notorious. My personal health issues of late have made me realize how tenuous life really is. Reading about the deaths of celebrities makes me feel somewhat at peace with it.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE STORY ABOUT FIRST BLOOD?

While filming, Rambo, Stallone’s character in First Blood, was supposed to fake an elbow to my head but it ended up being a full blown hit to my right eye. Sylvester was very concerned by the hit and I couldn’t let on how much it really hurt.Worse yet, we had to do a retake.

IF YOU HAD A FREE AIRLINE TICKET, WHERE WOULD YOU GO?

Though I have been to Mount Rushmore, I would go back. It made such a striking connection with me. I would also return to Vancouver where I have such fond memories of acting. I do miss the city and I really miss acting.

ANY ADVICE FOR A TOURIST COMING TO STRATFORD?

We just LOVE Pazzo’s. When our friends come from out of town, we often take them there. Also, the town of Blyth has a wonderful theatre. It is not the commercial success that the Stratford Festival is - which makes it charming.When in Blyth, you should check out the Hyde House - a clothing store with items you wouldn't find anywhere else. In Stratford, wake up early and get outside to see the beauty of the city as the day changes from morning to night. And, don’t forget to visit the swans.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE ROAD TRIP?

Nothing beats a trip to Lake Huron to experience its sunsets. One of our family members has a cottage close to Goderich. Its reputation as the prettiest town in Canada took a hit when a tornado hit town in 2011.The town has been rebuilt with its core being a place to visit especially on the day of its market.

Notes: Blyth is a 45 minute car ride from Stratford.The Blyth Theatre has performances daily, except Mondays, in July, August and September. Goderich is an hour’s drive from Stratford.You might want to consider a stroll or bike ride along the path to the Menesetung Bridge which is the start to the Goderich to Guelph trail, the Huron Historic Gaol that had three hangings before closing in 1972, the boardwalk at Cove Beach and Courthouse Square.The Goderich Farmer’s Market is on Saturdays between 9 and 1. The Flea Market is on Sundays between 9 and 3.