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Brothers became police officers, St. John's regatta rowing champs

James Cadigan (left), the RNC’s media relations officer, and his brother, Daniel, an RNC street patrol officer, look out over the water of Quidi Vidi Lake on Monday night as they await their racing shell to have their final practice spin prior to the Regatta.
James Cadigan (left), the RNC’s media relations officer, and his brother, Daniel, an RNC street patrol officer, look out over the water of Quidi Vidi Lake on Monday night as they await their racing shell to have their final practice spin prior to the Regatta. - Joe Gibbons
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

When asked what they would do if one of them moved away from Newfoundland, James and Daniel Cadigan paused, the looks on both of their faces suggesting neither of them had ever considered that possibility.

After a few seconds of silence, James was clear: "That would never happen."

The possibility of one of them even moving out of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove is slim to none. James, who is deputy mayor of the community, tried it one time, moving to downtown St. John's. It wasn't long before he came back, and, in the meantime, Daniel spent a fair amount in gas money going back and forth.

The brothers have spent their entire lives together. Just two years apart, they started off roaming around what they call the "Cadigan Compound" - the area of Logy Bay where their extended family still lives within a square kilometre - and playing ball hockey in the basement rink their father, Newfoundland Hockey Hall of Famer Ron Cadigan, had built. From school to sports to sharing a car and serving as best man at each other's wedding, James and Daniel have always been the best of friends.

As Royal Newfoundland Constabulary constables, they're also colleagues. Though it was Daniel's idea, James, 31, was the first to become an RNC officer, graduating in 2009 and spending close to a decade on patrol before moving into a public relations role early this year. Daniel, 29, graduated in 2012 and is a patrol officer.

James loves being able to shine a light on the police force and its activities in an open, relatable way for the public; Daniel enjoys the camaraderie and teamwork between officers. Both Cadigans decided to join the RNC out of a love of the community and a desire to serve it and help keep its residents safe.

"When Daniel first started, I was working in the Cape St. Francis area, and that area always has to have a partner on night shifts, so it would be Daniel," James explained. "It was great. As soon as we'd walk into a house people would see our name tags and say, "Cadigan. Logy Bay, right?' We'd say, 'Yeah, you've got it.' We certainly knew each other so well and could react to each other so that when we walked into a crisis or any other type of situation, we knew what to expect of each other."

This isn't something that happens right away when your partner isn't your brother, Daniel explained, since it takes a while to connect and learn each other's skills and tendencies. 

"We could go in somewhere and roll off each other so easily," he said. "James is the one with the way with words, so I'd let him do his thing. It was really positive."

The Cadigan brothers have proven the advantages of their connection in an area outside policing, with wins in the Royal St. John's Regatta the past three years as members of the Outer Cove crew. This year there have been a few changes - two new teammates, and the crew now represents Fine Strokes Painting and Plastering Ltd. - but their dedication to rowing remains the same and they hope to put up a good time when they get on Quidi Vidi Lake this week.

There's only one way to competitively row, they explained, and that's to give it everything until you've got nothing left to give.

"You work so hard to get yourself to a certain level," James said. "At the end of the day, you've just got to empty the tank and the result is the result."

The crew, which also includes Colin Stapleton, Mark Perry, Mark Hayward, Adam Kavanagh and Craig Whittle as coxswain, counts a doctor and a firefighter among them. Twenty-four-hour work shifts can pose problems, but excuses, Daniel said, aren't an option.

"It's easy to say, 'Oh, I've got to work in the morning, can we not row tomorrow,' but our mentality since (James and I) first rowed together in 2010 is there's no option of not rowing. It's, 'What time are we rowing?'"

The Cadigans' teammates are well aware of their hard-core determination and say it rubs off on them. They won't let the brothers sit side-by-side on the indoor rowing machines, though, in case they die trying to outdo one another.

"They will try to beat each other's performance," said Stapleton, who's been rowing with the Cadigans for the past four years. "They are so dedicated to the sport, and it's just an inspiration to watch and train with them for eight months of the year."

From water to ice

Once Regatta Day has passed, James and Daniel will turn their focus to another of their shared projects: next month they'll hold a free hockey camp for kids in Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove, in memory of their father.

Ron Cadigan died at age 60 in 2017 after a battle with multiple system atrophy, a neurodegenerative disorder, and the family started a foundation in his name shortly thereafter, with the goal of raising money to contribute to Parkinson Society Newfoundland and Labrador. The plan was also to find ways to encourage children in the Logy Bay area to get involved in sports, the way Ron did.

James and Daniel opened registration for their camp earlier this month. An hour later, they had 67 children registered, some who have never played hockey before, and some with experience.

The brothers, who have both played junior and senior hockey and coach the Gonzaga High School hockey team together with a friend, will teach at the camp at the Jack Byrne arena in Torbay, with some help. They're especially excited to have an all-female component to the camp, saying they want to encourage girls to play hockey.

They're also extra pleased with the positive community response, and the idea of continuing their father's legacy.

"He, not for one moment, showed any signs of weakness or negativity through his illness, start to finish," James explained. "He wanted all of us to be OK. He made a point to say, 'You know what? I'm gonna be fine, you just carry on with your lives.’ He was always so gracious and independent. We were lucky to have him for the time we did. We're taking everything he has done, for the community and for us, and putting it into action again."

Residents of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove believe the Cadigan brothers have earned their reputation as stand-up guys.

"I've known them since they were little boys. They were always together and always will be, I'd say," said Shanneyganock frontman Chris Andrews, another proud resident of the area. "The pride they have for their community and its residents is amazing. Simply put, they're two solid young men."

tara.bradbury@thetelegram.com
Twitter: @tara_bradbury

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