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.
Olympic Games are an international sports competition, held every four years. Until 1992 the Olympic Summer Games and the Olympic Winter Games were held in the same year, but beginning in 1994 they were rescheduled so that they are held in alternate even-numbered years.
Para ice hockey (also known as sledge hockey) is a version of ice hockey played by athletes with a lower-extremity disability. Players use a two-bladed sledge, as well as sticks with spikes at one end for propulsion and curved blades at the other end for shooting. Canada is a world power in the game and has won medals at all of the Paralympic Games except 2002 and 2010. In 2016, the International Paralympic Committee decided to rename and rebrand the sport under its jurisdiction. Since November 2016, sledge hockey has been officially known as para ice hockey.
The Toronto Raptors are a professional basketball team based in Toronto, Ontario, that plays in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Since its founding in 1995, the team has won five division titles and made the playoffs 10 times. In 2017–18, the Raptors finished atop the Eastern Conference regular season standings. After the Vancouver Grizzlies moved to Memphis in 2001, the Raptors became the only Canadian team in the NBA.
Canadian women have participated in every Olympic Winter Games since their inception in 1924. The first Canadian woman to medal at the Games was figure skater Barbara Ann Scott, who won gold in 1948. Her success was followed by gold medals in such sports as alpine skiing (e.g., Anne Heggtveit in 1960 and Nancy Greene in 1968), speed skating (e.g., Catriona Le May Doan in 1998 and 2002 and Cindy Klassen in 2006), biathlon (Myriam Bédard 1994), and hockey (2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014). Canadian women have also excelled in Olympic sports such as bobsled, snowboarding, short track speed skating, freestyle skiing, and curling. Since the 1948 Olympic Winter Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Canadian women have won 88 Olympic medals, including 33 gold medals.
Snowboarding is the sport of riding a large flat ski downhill over snow. Unlike downhill skiing, snowboarding does not require the use of poles and both feet are placed sideways on the same board. A relative newcomer to the family of winter sports, snowboarding began to gain popularity in the 1960s and rose in status from the latest "gimmick" to an accredited Olympic event in 1998, a relatively short period of time. Canadians have had great success over the years in international snowboarding at the Olympic Winter Games, Winter X Games and World Snowboarding Championships. Eight Canadian snowboarders have won Olympic medals — Ross Rebagliati, Dominique Maltais, Mike Robertson, Maëlle Ricker, Jasey-Jay Anderson, Mark McMorris, Max Parrot and Laurie Blouin. Rebagliati, Ricker and Anderson won Olympic gold, while Maltais and McMorris are multiple medallists.
Toronto FC (also known as TFC or “The Reds”) is a men’s professional soccer team that plays in Major League Soccer (MLS). Founded in 2006 by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the club has won the Voyageurs Cup six times (2009–2012 and 2016–17). They have made it to the MLS playoffs three times (2015, 2016 and 2017), becoming the first Canadian club to reach the MLS Cup final in 2016 and the first to win the MLS Cup in 2017. TFC has competed in the CONCACAF Champions League four times, making it as far as the semifinals in 2012. The club is one of three MLS franchises in Canada, including Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Olympic Games are an international sports competition, held every four years. Although winter events were included in the 1908 and 1920 Olympic Games, the first separate Olympic Winter Games were held in 1924 in Chamonix, France. Canada has hosted two Olympic Winter Games: in Calgary in 1988 and Vancouver in 2010. In total, Canada has won 199 medals at the Olympic Winter Games: 73 gold, 64 silver and 62 bronze medals. This does not include the gold medal in ice hockey won by Canada at the 1920 Olympic Games; while considered the first Olympic medal in ice hockey, it preceded the establishment of the Olympic Winter Games. The country ranks fifth in the total number of medals won at the Olympic Winter Games.
Curling is a sport in which two teams of four players each send stones over an ice surface toward a target circle in an attempt to place nearest the centre. In Canada, curling has steadily grown in popularity since the first club was formed in Montréal in 1807. The national championships (Brier, Scotties) and Olympic trials are among some of the most popular sporting events in the country, and many winners of these tournaments have also achieved victory on the international stage. Curling is one of the country’s most popular sports, and is the most televised women’s sport in Canada.
The Coloured Hockey League of the Maritimes (CHL) was an all-Black men's hockey league founded in 1895 in Halifax, NS. Organized by Black Baptists and Black intellectuals, the league was designed as a way to attract young Black men to Sunday worship with the promise of a recreational hockey match between rival churches following religious services. Later, with the influence of the Black Nationalism Movement of the period — and with rising interest in the sport of hockey — the league came to be seen as a potential driving force for the equality of Black Canadians.
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.
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 16.
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.