CTV Toronto weatherman of 48 years steps down
Dave Devall's final day as a CTV Toronto weather specialist ended with a salute from a prime minister, Scottish pipes and drums -- and a day that saw a new rainfall record set.
Devall was on the go all day Friday. He got up at 5 a.m. to make some guest appearances on Canada AM and CP24's morning shows and had a Toronto roadway renamed Devall Way (it leads into the CTV complex at 9 Channel Nine Court) about about 1 p.m.
In the afternoon, the Guinness Book of Records officially honoured Dave with the world record for longest career as a weather forecaster -- 48 years, two months and 27 days.
He made his final forecast as a full-time employee before retiring, although he will make occasional appearances for special projects and to fill in when someone is absent.
Tom Brown, currently handling CTV Toronto's noon weather duties, will be taking over as the 6 p.m. forecaster.
Devall came to CTV Toronto on Jan. 7, 1961, a day he remembers as sunny and cold, although his forecasting career actually started with CHEX TV in Peterborough in 1958.
For perspective, Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to go into space -- a feat accomplished on April 12, 1961.
"I had no intention of staying 48 years," Devall confided to Canada AM on Friday, adding, "The Guinness Book of Records thing never occurred to me."
He started his career in black-and-white television and before the advent of technology such as weather satellites (Sputnik the first satellite, was launched in 1957), but will be delivering his final forecast in state-of-the-art, high-definition colour.
"I'm getting out at the right time," Devall joked about high-def, giving himself an impromptu facelift by pulling his cheeks tighter.
He remembers giving temperatures in Fahrenheit when he started out, with Celsius the standard temperature scale now. Weather forecasting technology has evolved, including the development of Doppler radar. Computers "have opened up the whole world," he said.
One thing that didn't change over Devall's career was his smile and cheery personality.
Since it was announced on Groundhog Day that Dave would be stepping down, there's been an outpouring of heartfelt affection for Dave from celebrities and ordinary Torontonians alike.
"Every since I came to Toronto in 1968, he's been my weatherman," one caller told CTV Toronto on Friday. "Even though he's serious about the weather, he's always delivered it with a smile and a wonderful sense of humour."
She said when she met him once in a Queen Street restaurant, he was "exactly the same in person as you see him on TV."
CTV Toronto anchor Ken Shaw told Newsnet that Dave "learned the magic of coming through the lens as himself, not pretending to be anybody else."
During his appearance as a celebrity forecaster, Toronto Argonauts CEO Mike "Pinball" Clemons said he was wearing a cap, "not because it's cold out, but because I want to tip it to you, Dave."
A number of groups have paid tribute to Dave in a number of ways, but he got a special treat when he got to pilot a Canadian Forces C-130 Hercules over the waters of Lake Ontario.
Dave holds a pilot's licence and served in the Air Force, which is where he learned his patented writing backwards trick. He is also an honorary colonel of the 436 Transport Squadron at CFB Trenton.
"She's just like a Cessna -- if you can believe that," Devall said while behind the controls.
"This is real flying, this is really neat," he said. "For such a large aircraft, you can feel her. You can feel the weight, you can feel the power, but you feel like your always in control."
The crew hooked him to a line and allowed him to stand near the back door. "It's the thrill of a lifetime being back here. Like I said folks, this is as good as it gets," Devall said.
The Herc ride came to an end, and now Dave's career is at an end.
The next two days will be spent "sleeping," he joked on Friday.
High on the agenda is spending more time at his cottage country home in Bolsover, Ont. with his six grandchildren, who are growing up fast, and hitting the links. "I've got the clubs all cleaned, they're ready to go," he declared.
After getting his Guinness honour, Dave admitted it was a bittersweet day.
"Up until now, it's been busy and exciting, but now I'm getting to be a little bit afraid,' he said. "I've got plans for down the road, but now I've got to sit down and organize those plans and carry them out."
But first, he had one last show to do.