Canada at the 1952 Olympic Winter Games

The 1952 Olympic Winter Games were held in Oslo, Norway from 14 to 25 February 1952. Canada sent 39 athletes (31 men, 8 women) and tied with Italy for eighth in the overall medal count with one gold and one bronze medal. Speed skater Gordon Audley took bronze in the 500 m final and the Edmonton Mercurys won Canada’s fifth gold medal in ice hockey. The country would not win hockey gold again until 50 years later, when the women’s and men’s teams defeated the Americans at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

Edmonton Mercurys, Olympic Hockey, 1952
The Edmonton Mercurys won the gold medal in hockey at the Winter Olympic Games in Oslo on 24 Feb 1952. The final game was a 3-3 tie against the US. Canada\u0092s hockey teams did not win another until 2002, when both the men\u0092s and women\u0092s teams captured gold at Salt Lake (courtesy City of Edmonton Archives).

1952 Olympic Winter Games in Oslo

The 1952 Olympic Winter Games were held in Norway, which is considered the birthplace of modern skiing. It was the first Winter Games to include a torch relay. The Olympic flame was ignited at Morgedal in the fireplace of the home of skier Sondre Norheim (1825–97), who is credited with the invention of the modern ski binding. The flame was relayed by 94 cross-country skiers to Oslo, where Eigil Nansen, grandson of the famous polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen, lit the Olympic cauldron.

For the first time the Games were opened by a woman, Princess Ragnhild, because her grandfather, King Haakon VII, and her father, Crown Prince Olav, were away attending the funeral of King George VI in England. It was also the first Games to include a cross-country skiing event for women (a 10 km race) and the first to use computers to calculate scores in figure skating.

Speed Skating Bronze

Norwegian speed skater Hjalmar “Hjallis” Andersen was the star of these Games, winning three gold medals in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m. Canadian Gordon Audley took bronze in the 500 m speed skating final, wearing the same skates he had raced in at the 1948 Olympic Winter Games in St. Moritz. “Gordon Audley, who had trained on an ice-coated gravel pit and on the Red River in Winnipeg, was just another speed skater until Saturday,” wrote Jack Sullivan of The Globe and Mail. “Now he’s No. 3 among the Olympic elite and acclaimed for his brilliant performance in the 500-metre race. The bushy-browed, 23-year-old Winnipegger had to settle for a third-place tie Saturday in the race against time. Both Audley and Arne Johansen of Norway were tied in 44 seconds flat. … Said Audley: ‘I’m really amazed and shocked over it all.’”

Frank Stack and Gordon Audley
Olympic speed skaters Frank Stack (left) and Gordon Audley (right), date unknown. Stack represented Canada at the 1932, 1948 and 1952 Olympic Winter Games and won a bronze medal in the 10,000m race at the 1932 Games in Lake Placid. Audley competed at the 1948, 1952 and 1956 Games and won a bronze medal in the 500m at the 1952 Olympic Winter Games in Oslo.
Gordon Audley
Speed skater Gordon Audley (date unknown). Audley won a bronze medal in the 500m at the 1952 Olympic Winter Games in Oslo. He also competed at the 1948 and 1956 Games.

Hockey Gold

In hockey, Canada was represented by the Edmonton Mercurys, who had won the world ice hockey championship in 1950. The Mercs won the first three games with a combined score of 39–4 but had a more difficult time against the Czechoslovakian (4–1) and Swedish (3–2) teams. Canada won all seven of its games before facing the United States. A 3–3 tie with the Americans (who had lost to Sweden) was good enough for gold. “Canada Again Tops In Olympic Hockey,” declared The Globe and Mail. “Canada successfully defended its Olympic hockey championship tonight [24 February], … [but it] was a close call for the Canadian hockey team.” Indeed, it was the end of the era of Canadian dominance in amateur hockey. The Canadians would not win hockey Olympic gold again for 50 years.

Edmonton Mercurys, 1952
Canada's hockey team, represented by the Edmonton Mercurys, celebrates its gold medal win at the 1952 Oslo winter Olympics.

Other Sports

Canadian figure skaters placed well at the Games, although they did not win any medals. Peter Firstbrook finished fifth in men’s figure skating, as did the pairs team of Frances Dafoe and Norris Bowden. Suzanne Morrow placed sixth in the women’s competition. Joanne Hewson was Canada’s highest-placed skier, finishing eighth in the women’s downhill competition. No other Canadian athlete came close to the podium, but The Globe and Mail noted that the men’s ski jump champion, Norwegian Arnfinn Bergmann, worked as a mining engineer in Revelstoke, British Columbia (although his time in Canada seems to have been brief).

Team Canada Statistics

Team: 39 athletes (31 men, 8 women)

Medals: 2 (1 gold, 1 bronze)
Rank: 8th, tied with Italy (overall medal count)

Medal Table

Athletes Sport Medal
Edmonton Mercurys:
George Abel
John (Jack) Davies
Billie Dawe
Robert Dickson
Donald Gauf
William Gibson
Ralph Hansch
Robert Meyers
David Miller
Eric Paterson
Thomas Pollock
Allan Purvis
Gordon Robertson
Louis Secco
Francis Sullivan
Robert Watt
Ice hockey (men) Gold
Gordon Audley 500 m long track speed skating (men) Bronze