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Canadian Sports History

Sports have a long history in Canada, from early Indigenous games (e.g., baggataway) to more recent sports such as snowboarding and kitesurfing. Officially, Canada has two national sports: lacrosse (summer) and hockey (winter).

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Kaetlyn Osmond

Kaetlyn Osmond, figure skater (born 5 December 1995 in Marystown, NL). Figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond has competed at two Olympic Winter Games, winning bronze in women’s figure skating (2018) and gold (2018) and silver (2014) in the team event. In 2018, she won gold at the World Figure Skating Championships, becoming the first Canadian women’s world champion in 45 years. She has also been Canadian champion (2013, 2014, 2017), has won gold medals at several international events, including Skate Canada International and the Nebelhorn Trophy.

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Mark Arendz

Mark Arendz, Paralympian, biathlon and cross-country skiing (born 3 March 1990 in Charlottetown, PEI). Arendz has won eight medals at the Paralympic Winter Games in biathlon and cross-country skiing, including a gold medal in the men’s 15 km standing biathlon at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. He has also won eight medals at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Nordic Skiing World Championships and has had great success on the IPC World Cup circuit, including winning the 2013 World Cup Crystal Globe in para-biathlon.

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Andrew Wiggins

Andrew Christian Wiggins (born 23 February 1995 in Toronto, ON). Andrew Wiggins is a Canadian professional basketball player with the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Raised in Vaughan, Ontario, Wiggins first rose to fame as the world’s top-ranked high school basketball player and was a second-team All-American in college. In 2014, he became the second Canadian to be selected first overall in the NBA draft. He is the first Canadian player to be named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year and the first to score more than 40 points in a game. Wiggins also helped Canada secure three bronze medals in international competition. He is the highest-paid Canadian athlete of all time.    

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James Naismith

Dr. James Naismith, physical educator, author, inventor, chaplain, physician (born 6 November 1861 in Almonte, Ontario; died 28 November 1939 in Lawrence, Kansas). James Naismith is best known as the inventor of the sport of basketball. He was also the first full-time athletics instructor at McGill University and established the basketball program at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, where he worked and lived for 41 years until his death. Naismith became the first member of the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959. He was posthumously inducted to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame. In 2010, his original hand-written rules for the sport of basketball were sold at auction for $4.3 million, a sports memorabilia record. 

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Harry Howell

Henry (Harry) Vernon Howell, hockey player, coach, manager, scout (born 28 December 1932 in HamiltonON; died 10 March 2019 in Ancaster, ON). Harry Howell was a defenceman in the National Hockey League (NHL). He played for the New York Rangers, Oakland Seals, California Golden Seals and Los Angeles Kings. Known affectionately as “Harry the Horse,” he set a franchise record with the Rangers for most games played with 1,160. He was also a seven-time all-star and a Norris Trophy winner. Following the end of his playing career, he served as a coach, manager or scout for several teams, including Team Canada (1978 world championships), the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Rangers. Howell was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979. His No. 3 was retired by the Rangers in 2009.

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Canadian Women At The Olympic Winter Games

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 105 Olympic medals, including 38 gold medals.

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Equestrian Sports

Canadians have been involved in modern equestrian sports (dressage, jumping and eventing) since the early 20th century, and have brought home medals from the Olympic Games, World Equestrian Games and Pan American Games.

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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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William “Torchy” Peden

William J. "Torchy" Peden, cyclist (born 16 April 1906 in Victoria, BC; died 26 January 1980 in Chicago, Illinois). One of the greatest cyclists of his era, Peden was particularly successful on the six-day racing circuit in the 1930s. In his first four years of six-day racing, he won 24 of 48 races. In total, he won 38 of 148 races between 1929 and 1948, a record that stood until 1965. Peden was one of the top-paid athletes of the Depression era, alongside Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees. He is a member of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, BC Sports Hall of Fame, Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Cycling Hall of Fame.

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Mikaël Kingsbury

Mikaël Kingsbury, freestyle skier (born 24 July 1992 in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, QC). Mikaël Kingsbury won the silver medal in men’s moguls at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi and the gold medal in moguls at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang (see Freestyle Skiing). In International Ski Federation (FIS) World Cup competition, he has won seven Crystal Globes as the overall champion of freestyle skiing (2012–18) and the World Cup moguls title for seven straight years (2012–18). As of December 2018, he had won a record 50 World Cup gold medals and 74 medals overall in moguls competition, as well as seven medals at the world championships. Also in 2018, Kingsbury became the first freestyle skier to win the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year.

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Mark Messier

Mark Douglas “Moose” Messier, hockey player (born 18 January 1961 in Edmonton, AB). A talented forward who played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for 25 seasons, Mark Messier is considered one of the greatest hockey players of all time. He ranks near the top of many regular-season NHL records: third in points (1,887), eighth in goals (694), third in assists (1,193) and second in games played (1,756). He is also second all-time in playoff goals (109), playoff assists (186) and playoff points (295), and fourth overall in playoff games played (236). Famous for his leadership, he captained the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks. He also won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player with the Oilers in 1990 and with the Rangers in 1992. Messier won six Stanley Cups and received the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1984. An Officer of the Order of Canada, he has been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame.

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Larry Kwong

​Larry Kwong, hockey player (born 17 June 1923 in Vernon, BC; died 15 March 2018 in Calgary, AB).

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David Binnie Turner

David Binnie Turner, soccer player (b at Edinburgh, Scot 11 Oct 1903; d at Victoria 6 Apr 1989). Turner came to Canada at age 11 and played junior soccer in Edmonton. A powerful player with an excellent shot and heading ability, he was one of Canada's top players in the 1920s and 1930s.

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Nelson Robert Stewart

Nelson Robert Stewart, Nels, "Old Poison," hockey player (b at Montreal 29 Dec 1902; d at Toronto 21 Aug 1957). He was the first player to score 300 goals and his record of 324 goals held until broken by Maurice RICHARD.