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Joey Votto

Joey Votto, baseball player (born 10 September 1983 in Toronto, ON). Joey Votto is a Canadian baseball player with the Cincinnati Reds. In 2010, he won the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award and Hank Aaron Award, as well as the Lou Marsh Trophy for Canada’s outstanding athlete of the year. Two years later, he became one of the highest paid baseball players in major league history. In 2017, he was again awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy. He has also won the James “Tip” O’Neill Award seven times.

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Ferguson Jenkins

Ferguson "Fergie" Arthur Jenkins, CM, baseball player (born 13 December 1943 in Chatham, ON). Arguably the finest Canadian-born baseball player, Jenkins began his major-league career in Philadelphia before joining the Chicago Cubs in 1966.

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Rick Hansen

Richard (Rick) Marvin Hansen, CC, OBC, Paralympian, wheelchair racer, humanitarian (born 26 August 1957 in Port Alberni, British Columbia). In the 1980s, Rick Hansen won six Paralympic medals and three world championships in wheelchair racing. He was named Canada’s Disabled Athlete of the Year three times and, in 1983, received the Lou Marsh Trophy for Canadian Outstanding Athlete of the Year — an honour he shared with Wayne Gretzky. Hansen is perhaps best known for his Man In Motion World Tour. From 21 March 1985 to 22 May 1987, Hansen wheeled more than 40,000 km in 34 countries to raise awareness, public support and finances for spinal cord research, rehabilitation and wheelchair sports. The tour raised more than $26 million.

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Manny McIntyre

Vincent “Manny” Churchill McIntyre, baseball player, hockey player, railway porter (born 4 October 1918 in Gagetown, New Brunswick; died 13 June 2011 in Candiac, QC). Manny McIntyre was the first Black Canadian to sign a professional baseball contract — just six weeks after American Jackie Robinson broke the pro baseball colour barrier. McIntyre played as a shortstop for the St. Lous Cardinals farm team, the Sherbrooke Canadians. A multisport athlete, he was also a member (with brothers Ossie and Herb Carnegie) of the first all-Black line in pro hockey, known as the “Black Aces.” McIntyre was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, the Black Ice Hockey and Sports Hall of Fame, the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame and the City of Fredericton Sports Wall of Fame.

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George Dixon

George Dixon, boxer (born 29 July 1870 in Africville, NS; died 6 January 1908 in New York, New York). George Dixon was the first Black world champion in boxing history and the first Canadian to ever win a world championship. Despite his small stature (5 feet 3.5 inches and between 87 and 115 pounds), Dixon amassed several notable accomplishments across a 20-year career and was the first boxer to win championships in multiple weight classes — bantamweight (1890) and featherweight (1891–96; 1897; 1898–1900). A cerebral fighter known as a “pioneer of scientific boxing,” he is credited with inventing various fundamental training techniques, including shadowboxing and the use of the heavy bag. As a dominant Black fighter in the post-Civil War United States, Dixon was subjected to fierce racism. He died in poverty from alcoholism at the age of 37. He was an inaugural inductee into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame, and was also named to The Ring Magazine Hall of Fame and the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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Herb Carnegie

Herbert H. Carnegie, CM, O Ont, hockey player, philanthropist (born 8 November 1919 in Toronto, ON; died 9 March 2012 in Toronto). Arguably the first Black Canadian hockey star, Herb Carnegie is widely regarded as the best Black player never to play in the National Hockey League (NHL). Carnegie played in the 1940s and 1950s, mostly in the Quebec and Ontario Junior A and senior leagues. He was a member of the Black Aces, the first all-Black line in hockey outside the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes. Following his retirement from hockey in 1954, he established the Herbert H. Carnegie Future Aces Foundation. He was also an accomplished senior golfer. He was made a Member of the Order of Canada and has been inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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Kaillie Humphries

Kaillie Humphries (née Simundson), bobsledder (born 4 September 1985 in Calgary, AB). Kaillie Humphries is the only woman to win three Olympic gold medals in bobsledding. At the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, she and Heather Moyse became the first Canadian women to win gold in the two-woman bobsled. They won gold again at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Humphries won the 2014 Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year and won a bronze medal at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. She was also one of the first two women to compete in an international four-man bobsleigh competition. Humphries has alleged that she was “driven off” the Canadian bobsled team in 2019 after filing a harassment complaint against a coach. She obtained US citizenship in 2021 and competed for Team USA at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, where she won gold in women’s monobob. She is the only woman ever to win Olympic gold medals for two different countries.

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Mary Spencer

Mary Spencer, boxer, model, humanitarian (born 12 December 1984 in WiartonON). Mary Spencer is one of Canada's premier boxing champions, holding eight national titles, five Pan-American titles, and three world titles. An Ojibwe of the Cape Croker First Nation, Spencer is involved in Motivate Canada’s GEN7 Aboriginal role model initiative, and in 2013 became a mentor with the CIBC Team Next program.

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Michelle Stilwell

Michelle “Mikey” Stilwell (née Bauknecht), wheelchair basketball player, wheelchair racer, politician (born 4 July 1974 in Winnipeg, MB). Michelle Stilwell is the only Canadian woman to win gold medals in two sports at the Paralympic Games. She and the Canadian team won gold in women’s wheelchair basketball at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney. Stilwell also won gold in women’s wheelchair racing at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Paralympic Games. From 2006 to 2016, she was the fastest wheelchair racer in the world in the T52-class; she currently holds world records in the women’s 100 m and 200 m. She also served as a BC MLA for Parksville-Qualicum from 2013 to 2020.

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Marilyn Bell

Marilyn Grace Bell Di Lascio (née Bell), OOnt, swimmer (born 19 October 1937 in Toronto, ON). Marilyn Bell is a long-distance swimmer, best remembered for her 1954 swim across Lake Ontario, which brought her international fame at the age of 16. She won the 1954 Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year, as well as the 1954 and 1955 Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as the country’s top female athlete. She was also named the 1954 Canadian Press Newsmaker of the Year. In 1955, she became the youngest person to swim the English Channel. She also swam across the Juan de Fuca Strait in 1956. She was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and is a Member of the Order of Ontario.

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Angela Chalmers

Angela Frances Chalmers, world-class distance runner from Birdtail Sioux First Nation (born 6 September 1963 in Brandon, MB). Chalmers is one of the most accomplished Indigenous athletes in Canada. She won three gold medals in total at the Commonwealth Games in 1990 and 1994. An advocate for Indigenous issues, Chalmers has made efforts to connect with and inspire Indigenous youth from across Canada. Among many honours and awards, Chalmers was inducted into Athletics Canada Hall of Fame in 2019.

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Darren Zack

Darren Zack (nicknamed Z-Man), pitcher in fastpitch softball (born 9 August 1960 in Garden River First Nation, ON). Compared in his skill to Babe Ruth, Zack dominated fastpitch softball in the 1990s. In addition to many other athletic accomplishments, Zack helped Team Canada win the Pan American Games fastpitch medal in 1991, 1995 and 1999. Though a fearsome competitor, Zack is known for his modest and humble demeanor off the field. He is actively involved in his Garden River First Nation community and in encouraging youth involvement in sports. (See also Baseball.)

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Carey Price

Carey Price, hockey player (born 16 August 1987 in Vancouver, BC). Goaltender Carey Price has played his entire National Hockey League (NHL) career with the Montreal Canadiens. Following the 2014–15 NHL season, Price won the Hart Memorial Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, Vezina Trophy and William M. Jennings Trophy and became the first player to win all four awards in the same season. In international competition, Price won gold medals with Canada at the 2007 IIHF Ice Hockey Junior World Championship in Sweden, the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in Toronto. 

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Jordin Tootoo

Jordin John Kudluk (Thunder) Tootoo, hockey player (born 2 February, 1983 in Churchill, MB). Jordin Tootoo is the first Inuk hockey player to play in the National Hockey League (NHL). Jordin got the attention of the NHL as a tough, talented right-winger in his junior hockey days in Manitoba. In 2003, he received national attention when he played for Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship. After playing 13 seasons in the NHL, he retired in 2018. He is known for speaking to youth and maintaining his Inuit culture.

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Fred Sasakamoose

Frederick (Fred) George Sasakamoose, CM, hockey player, Elder of Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation (born 25 December 1933 at Whitefish Lake, now Big River First Nation, SK; died 24 November 2020 in Prince Albert, SK). Fred Sasakamoose was one of the first Indigenous hockey players from Canada in the National Hockey League (NHL). A former student of St. Michael’s Indian Residential School in Duck Lake, Saskatchewan, he played 11 games for the Chicago Black Hawks in the 1953–54 NHL season. After his retirement from competitive hockey in 1961, he dedicated himself to encouraging youth through sports involvement. A Member of the Order of Canada, he was inducted into the Saskatchewan First Nations Sports Hall of Fame, the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame, the Prince Albert Hall of Fame and the Canadian Native Hockey Hall of Fame.

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Wilton Littlechild

Jacob Wilton (Willie) Littlechild, CM, athlete, lawyer, Cree chief, politician, advocate for Indigenous rights (born 1 April 1944 in Hobbema, [now Maskwacîs] AB). Littlechild formed and coached Alberta’s first all-Indigenous junior hockey team and created the National Indian Athletic Association. He is a member of seven sports halls of fame. In 1976, Littlechild earned a law degree from the University of Alberta. He went on to become the first member of Parliament with Treaty Indian Status in Canada in 1988. Littlechild served as a commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2009. Throughout his career, Littlechild has promoted Indigenous rights both nationally and internationally.

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Stephanie Dixon

Stephanie Dixon, CM, swimmer (born 10 February 1984 in Brampton, ON). Stephanie Dixon is one of Canada’s most decorated Paralympic athletes. She won 19 Paralympic medals (seven gold, 10 silver, two bronze), six gold medals at the Parapan American Games and 10 gold medals at the IPC World Championships. She set world records in nine long course swimming events — some more than once — and still holds the world record in the women’s 200 m backstroke. Dixon has worked as a coach since retiring in 2010. She was also Team Canada’s chef de mission at the 2019 Parapan American Games and the 2020 Paralympic Games. She has been inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and is a Member of the Order of Canada.

List

Notable Indigenous Olympians in Canada

Drawing inspiration from the Olympic Games in ancient Greece, the modern Olympics began in 1896. Like the Olympics, the Paralympic Games take place every two years, alternating between summer and winter sports. Indigenous athletes from Canada have competed at these games and brought home medals. They have represented the country in various sports at the Olympics, from long-distance running to skiing to water sports and more. This article explores some of the most notable Indigenous Olympians from Canada.

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Colored Hockey League

The Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes (CHL) was an all-Black men’s hockey league. It was organized by Black Baptists and Black intellectuals and was founded in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1895. It was defunct during and after the First World War, reformed in 1921 and then fell apart during the Depression in the 1930s. Play was known to be fast, physical and innovative. The league was designed to attract young Black men to Sunday worship with the promise of a hockey game between rival churches after the services. Later, with the influence of the Black Nationalism Movement — 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. Canada Post issued a commemorative stamp in honour of the league in January 2020.

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Angela James

Angela James, OC, hockey player (born 22 December 1964 in Toronto, ON). Known as "the Wayne Gretzky of women's hockey," Angela James was a pioneering and dominant force in women's hockey during the 1980s and 1990s. She led the Canadian women’s hockey team to four world championships (1990, 1992, 1994, and 1997). She was also one of the first three women to be inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame. When James was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010, she was one of the first two women, the first openly gay player, and the second Black athlete ever to be inducted. She was appointed to the Order of Hockey in Canada in 2021 and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2022.