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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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Manon Rhéaume

Manon Rhéaume, hockey player (born 24 February 1972 in Lac-Beauport, Québec). Goaltender Manon Rhéaume was a pioneer in women’s hockey. In 1992, she became the first woman to try out for a National Hockey League (NHL) team and to play in an NHL game. In doing so, she also became the first woman to play in any of North America’s major sports leagues. Rhéaume also represented Canada in international women’s hockey. She was part of the World Championship women’s team in 1992 and 1994, and helped Team Canada win the Olympic silver medal in 1998, the first year that women’s hockey was included in the Olympic Winter Games.

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Cowboys and Cowgirls in Canada

Cowboys and cowgirls are people employed to tend cattle or horses. The first cowboys to work on the Canadian prairies arrived in the 1870s. The traditional cowboy lifestyle has since given way to a more contained, corporate model of ranching. But the romanticized image of the cowboy on the “open range” lives on as a symbol of the prairies. Today, the terms cowboy and cowgirl can refer to ranch workers or rodeo competitors.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

Article

Willie O'Ree

Willie O’Ree, CM, ONB, hockey player (born 15 October 1935 in Fredericton, NB). On 18 January 1958, Willie O’Ree became the first Black hockey player to play in the National Hockey League (NHL). He played professional hockey for more than 20 years, including 45 games with the Boston Bruins. Since 1998, O’Ree has been the NHL’s Director of Youth Development and ambassador for NHL Diversity. He is a Member of both the Order of Canada and the Order of New Brunswick. He has been inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame, the Hockey Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. The Boston Bruins retired O’Ree’s No. 22 on 18 January 2022, the 64th anniversary of his first NHL game.

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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.

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Marie-Philip Poulin

Marie-Philip Poulin, hockey player (born 28 March 1991 in Québec City, Québec). Poulin is a three-time Olympian who holds the unique distinction of scoring the gold medal-winning goals for Canada at both the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. She was also captain of the team that won silver at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. The forward has also won a world championship and two Clarkson Cup titles in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League championships. The recipient of numerous honours and awards, Poulin is considered one of the world’s top players and has been compared to fellow Canadian Sidney Crosby.

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Jack “Doc” Gibson

John “Jack” Liddell MacDonald Gibson, athlete, administrator, dentist (born 10 September 1880 in Berlin [now Kitchener], ON; died 4 November 1954 in Calgary, AB). Jack “Doc” Gibson founded the world’s first professional hockey team (the Portage Lake Hockey Club in Houghton, Michigan) in 1903 and the first professional hockey league (the International Hockey League) in 1904. He has been called the “father of professional hockey” and the “father of hockey in Michigan.” He was an inaugural inductee into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976.

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Jimmy Rattlesnake

Jimmy Rattlesnake, baseball player (born 1909 in Hobbema [now Maskwacis], Alberta; died 17 April 1972 in Hobbema). A crafty and durable left-handed pitcher, Jimmy Rattlesnake was one of Canada’s first Indigenous baseball stars. He dominated prize money tournaments in Alberta and Saskatchewan in the 1930s and 1940s. Some reports indicate that he also briefly pitched professionally in the United States. Often compared to African American pitcher Satchel Paige, Rattlesnake was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2021.

Article

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. 

Article

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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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.

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.

Article

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.

Article

Mark McMorris

Mark Lee McMorris, Canadian snowboarder (born 9 December 1993 in Regina, Saskatchewan). McMorris competes in both big air and slopestyle snowboarding. He won the bronze medal for Canada in men’s slopestyle at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi and the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, as well as silver in men’s slopestyle at the 2013 FIS Snowboarding World Championships. He has also won multiple gold medals on the World Cup circuit and at the Winter X Games, Dew Tour and the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships.

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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.