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Ned Hanlan

Three successive victories over the local champion Thomas Loudon led a group of Torontonians in 1876 to form the Hanlan Club to back Hanlan as a professional. The club bought him an English-made shell and equipped it with a sliding seat and swivel oarlocks.

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Sam Langford

Sam Langford, boxer (born 4 March 1886 in Weymouth Falls, Nova Scotia; died 12 January 1956 in Cambridge, Massachusetts). Langford was a professional boxer who competed across multiple weight classes during his 24-year career. A well-rounded boxer with fierce punching power, Langford often found success against much larger opponents and garnered praise as a fearless competitor. Despite an impressive winning record and praise from icons of the sport, Langford faced racial barriers that prevented him from competing for a title during an era when White champion boxers didn’t want to be seen losing to Black opponents. Though he was crowned heavyweight champion of England, Australia, Canada and Mexico, Langford is considered one of the best fighters never to win a title in the United States. Langford lost his vision during a fight later in his career, which ultimately forced his retirement. He was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1955, one year before his death. Langford’s professional record varies depending on the source — with the most comprehensive listing 214-46-44 with 138 knockouts. Some historians contend that Langford may have fought in over 600 matches.

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Alexandre Despatie

Alexandre Despatie, diver (born at Montréal 8 Jun 1985). Alexandre Despatie is one of Canada's most-accomplished athletes in diving, and is a three-time world champion and two-time Olympic medalist.

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Kaillie Humphries

Kaillie Humphries (née Simundson), bobsledder (born 4 September 1985 in Calgary, AB). Kaillie Humphries is the most decorated Canadian bobsledder in Olympic history. She became the first Canadian woman to pilot a Canadian bobsled team to victory at an Olympic Winter Games, winning a gold medal with Heather Moyse in the two-woman bobsled at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. At the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Humphries and Moyse won gold again. They became the first women’s bobsled team ever to successfully defend an Olympic title. Humphries won bronze at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. She has also won two world championships and four World Cup titles. She is the first Canadian female bobsled driver to win the World Championship, and one of the first two women to compete in international four-man bobsleigh competition. She won the Lou Marsh Trophy in 2014 as Canada’s athlete of the year.

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Doug Flutie

Douglas Richard Flutie, football player, philanthropist (born 23 October 1962 in Manchester, Maryland). Doug Flutie is widely considered to be one of the greatest players in Canadian Football League (CFL) history. A Heisman Trophy winner as the best player in US college football, Flutie went on to play for eight teams in three different leagues over a 21-year pro football career (1985–2006). A quarterback with the CFL’s BC Lions, Calgary Stampeders and Toronto Argonauts, he appeared in four Grey Cup games and won three championships, earning MVP honours in all three victories. Flutie is the first non-Canadian inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (2007). In 1998, he and his wife established the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism.

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Robert Daniel Emslie

Robert Daniel Emslie, baseball player (b at Guelph, Canada W 27 Jan 1859; d at St Thomas, Ont 26 Apr 1943). Emslie played baseball in Ontario and Kansas before a brief major-league pitching career in which he won 32 games for Baltimore in 1884.

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Babe Dye

Cecil Henry Dye, "Babe," hockey player (b at Hamilton, Ont 13 May 1898; d 2 Jan 1962). His learning the skills of hockey from his mother on a backyard rink in Toronto became part of hockey lore.

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Kevin Spraggett

Kevin Spraggett, Canadian chess grandmaster (b at Montreal 10 Nov 1954). His chess career gained momentum with a second-place showing at the 1973 Canadian Open.

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Art Ross

​Arthur Howey Ross, hockey player, inventor/innovator and NHL team executive (born 13 January 1885 in Naughton [Sudbury], ON; died 5 August 1964 in Medford, Massachusetts). Ross was considered a top defenseman during a playing career that included several years as a professional (with a brief stint in the fledgling National Hockey League). Following his retirement as a player in 1918, Ross worked as an NHL referee and coached the NHL’s Hamilton Tigers in 1922–23. The Boston Bruins hired him when they entered the league in 1924, and Ross served as coach, general manager and vice president (often holding all three titles at once) until 1954. Ross also invented improved versions of the hockey puck and goalie nets that were used for decades in the NHL, and introduced many of the rules that modernized the game.

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Peter Biyiasas

Peter Biyiasas, chess grandmaster (b at Athens, Greece 19 Nov 1950). He moved to Canada as a child, began to play seriously in Vancouver in the late 1960s, and won the British Columbia championship 1968-71.

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Ryan Cochrane

Cochrane first began swimming with his twin brother, Devon, in the Red Cross Learn to Swim program. While attending swimming camp at Island Swimming, Cochrane began swimming competitively.

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George F. Gate

George F. Gate, SWIMMING coach (born 11 December 1924 in Carlisle, England; died 17 August 2014 in Montreal, QC). In 1942 this young local swimming champion joined the British Royal Navy where he spent his free time reading about swimming techniques. Five years later, George F.

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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 disbanded in 1911 and reformed in 1925 but fell apart by 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.

Macleans

Gretzky Retires

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on April 26, 1999. Partner content is not updated.

Hollywood will no doubt make a movie about Wayne Gretzky some day, and it will have to include the scene where he plays his last game in Canada, in Ottawa against the Senators.

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Marlene Stewart Streit

Marlene Stewart Streit, golfer (b at Cereal, Alta 9 Mar 1934). Streit played junior golf in Fonthill, Ont. She was a powerful competitor, her game marked by fierce pride and will to win, and she became Canada's greatest women's amateur golfer.

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Charlie Conacher

Charles William Conacher, hockey player (b at Toronto 10 Dec 1909; d there 30 Dec 1967). Playing right wing on Toronto's potent "Kid Line," with Joe Primeau and Henry "Busher" Jackson, he was known for his

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Hilda Strike

Hilda Strike, (born at Montréal, 1 Sep 1910; died at Ottawa, 9 Mar 1989). Hilda Strike was an athlete in the 1932 SUMMER OLYMPICS in TRACK AND FIELD.

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Pat Burns

​Patrick John Joseph Burns, police officer, hockey coach (born 4 April 1952 in Saint-Henri, QC; died 19 November 2010 in Sherbrooke, QC).