Lacrosse is one of the oldest organized sports in North America. While at one point it was a field game or ritual played by First Nations, it became popular among non-Indigenous peoples in the mid-1800s. When the National Lacrosse Association of Canada was formed in 1867, it was the Dominion of Canada’s first governing body of sport. Lacrosse was confirmed as Canada’s official summer sport in 1994. The Canadian national lacrosse teams (men and women) rank highly in the world standings, both in field and box lacrosse.
Canada's Sports Hall of Fame is Canada's national museum of sport, dedicated to preserving and increasing Canadians' awareness of their sport heritage. Founded in 1955 through the efforts of Harry I. Price, a former assistant athletics commissioner of Ontario, it was originally located in Toronto but it moved to Calgary in 2011.
The Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded annually to the player judged most valuable to his team in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup playoffs. The player is selected following the final game of the playoffs by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. The trophy was first presented in 1964 in honour of Conn Smythe, former coach, manager and owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, the only Maple Leaf to win the award was Dave Keon (1967). Two-time winners are Bobby Orr (1970 and 1972), Bernie Parent (1974 and 1975), Wayne Gretzky (1985 and 1988), Mario Lemieux (1991 and 1992) and Sidney Crosby (2016, 2017) while Patrick Roy won the award three times (1986, 1993, 2001). Five players have won the trophy despite their team losing the Stanley Cup Final: Roger Crozier (1966), Glenn Hall (1968), Reggie Leach (1976), Ron Hextall (1987) and Jean-Sébastien Giguère (2003).
The Stanley Cup is the oldest trophy competed for by professional athletes in North America. Donated by Governor General Lord Stanley in 1892 for presentation to the top hockey team in Canada, it was first awarded to the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (1892–93). Since 1926, the Stanley Cup competition has been under the control of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Montreal Canadiens are the most successful team in Stanley Cup history, with 24 victories, followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise with 13. These two “Original Six” teams dominated the championship from the 1940s to the 1970s.
The Edmonton Grads (1915–40) was a women’s championship basketball team coached by Percy Page. During their 25 years as a team, the Grads won an astounding 95 per cent of their matches. The Grads were national and world champions, often defeating their opponents by lopsided scores. The team won the Underwood International Trophy (USA–Canada) for 17 years straight (1923 to 1940), and was undefeated in 24 matches held in conjunction with the Olympic Summer Games in 1924, 1928 and 1936. The Grads were named to Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
Zamboni ice resurfacers are used in arenas across Canada and around the world. Although Zamboni is a registered trademark, many Canadians use the term to refer to all ice resurfacers, including those produced by other companies. American Frank J. Zamboni invented the original Zamboni ice resurfacer in 1949. His namesake company is based in Paramount, California, but also has a large manufacturing facility in Brantford, Ontario. The Zamboni Company’s major competitor, Resurfice Corporation (based in Elmira, Ontario), produces the Olympia line of ice resurfacers that are used in arenas across Canada and around the world. In 2016, ICETECH Machines began producing the Okay Elektra, an electronic ice resurfacer, in Terrebonne, Québec.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are a professional team in the Canadian Football League (CFL). The franchise dates back to the formation of the Hamilton Football Club (the Tigers) in November 1869. The Tigers and another Hamilton football team, the Wildcats, amalgamated as the Tiger-Cats for the 1950 season and played in the Inter-provincial Rugby Football Union (IRFU), which became the Eastern Conference of the CFL in 1960. Since the early 20th century, the Tigers and Tiger-Cats have been associated with a tough, physical brand of football that reflects the blue-collar roots of Hamilton as an industrial city. The team’s iconic cheer, “Oskie Wee Wee, Oskie Waa Waa, Holy Mackinaw, Tigers… Eat ’em Raw!” is well known throughout Canada and dates back to the early 20th century. The Tiger-Cats have won the Grey Cup 13 times, including five times as the Tigers.
The Calgary Stampeders are a professional football team that plays in the West Division of the Canadian Football League (CFL). The Stampeders are one of the nine founding teams of the CFL and have won the Grey Cup seven times. The team played its first game in 1945 and has won the second-most CFL West Division championships, with 15.
The Montreal Alouettes are a Canadian Football League (CFL) franchise located in Montréal, Québec. The team was founded in 1946 and played until 1987 before folding due to financial difficulties (from 1982 to 1986, the team was known as the Montreal Concordes). In 1996, the Baltimore Stallions relocated to Montréal and were renamed the Alouettes, reviving the franchise. The Alouettes play in the East Division and have won seven Grey Cup championships.
The Edmonton Eskimos are a community-owned football team that plays in the West Division of the Canadian Football League (CFL). In the CFL’s modern era (post-Second World War), the Eskimos have won the Grey Cup championship 14 times, second only to the 16 championships held by the Toronto Argonauts. This included three victories in a row from 1954 to 1956 and an unprecedented five straight championships from 1978 to 1982. The club also holds a North American professional sports record for reaching the playoffs in 34 consecutive seasons between 1972 and 2005. Notable Eskimos alumni include former Alberta premiers Peter Lougheed and Don Getty, former lieutenant-governor of Alberta Norman Kwong and former Edmonton mayor Bill Smith.
With our national game now a multi-billion-dollar professional sport, it is perhaps comforting to look back to simpler times when hockey was closer to community, and was played for love and glory by amateurs. In the early days of Stanley Cup competition, any Canadian team with some success at the senior level could challenge the current champs. In 1905 one of the strangest challenges came from Dawson City, Yukon.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are a football team that plays in the Canadian Football League. Located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the Blue Bombers have alternated between the league’s West Division and East Division; they are currently part of the West Division. Since its founding in 1930, the team has won 10 Grey Cup championships.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders are a team that plays in the Western Conference of the Canadian Football League. They are the oldest continuously operating professional football club in western Canada, and second only to the Toronto Argonauts of the Eastern Conference in length of history. One of only three community owned football teams in the CFL, they play their games in Regina, the least populated sports market in Canada; only the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League are based in a smaller centre. Like the Packers, however, the Roughriders are famed for the intensity of their supporters, known as “Rider Nation,” many of whom live well beyond the borders of Saskatchewan.
The Art Ross Trophy is awarded annually to the player who leads the National Hockey League in scoring points during the regular season. If there is a tie at the end of the season, the trophy is awarded to the player with the most goals. The trophy was donated in 1948 by Arthur Howey Ross, general manager of the Boston Bruins. Several players have won the award multiple times, including Wayne Gretzky (10 times), Gordie Howe and Mario Lemieux (6 times), Phil Esposito and Jaromir Jagr (5), Stan Mikita (4), and Bobby Hull and Guy Lafleur (3).
Sometimes the past is interesting, not because of its long-term historical significance or because it might teach us some questionable lesson about the present, but simply because it contains wondrous reminders of the serendipity of fate. I am fascinated by a goal that Bill Barilko scored on 21 April 1951, not because it was a precursor to Paul Henderson's life-saving marker in 1972, or to Sidney Crosby's goal of redemption at the 2010 Olympics, but because I was there.