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Willie O'Ree

Willie O’Ree, CM, ONB, hockey player (born 15 October 1935 in Fredericton, NB). Willie O’Ree became the first Black hockey player to play a National Hockey League (NHL) game on 18 January 1958. He played professional hockey for more than 20 years, including 45 games with the NHL’s Boston Bruins. Since 1998, O’Ree has been the NHL’s Director of Youth Development and ambassador for NHL Diversity, and has led the Hockey is for Everyone program. He received the Lester Patrick Trophy in 2003 for his outstanding service to hockey in the United States. In 2018, the NHL established the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award in his honour. O’Ree 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 and the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame as a Builder on 27 May 2020 and will be formally inducted in 2021. The Boston Bruins will retire his No. 22 jersey in 2022.

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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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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.

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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 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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Laurent Duvernay-Tardif

Laurent “Dr. Kill” Duvernay-Tardif, CQ, football player, doctor (born 11 February 1991 in Saint-Jean-Baptiste, QC). Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is an offensive lineman with the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League (NFL). Only the 10th player ever drafted into the NFL from Canadian college and university football, he became the first Quebec-born football player to win a Super Bowl championship in 2020. The first active NFL player to become a doctor, he opted out of the 2020 season to work as an orderly at a long-term care facility in Montreal during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was made a Chevalier of the Ordre National du Québec in 2019. In 2020, he was named a Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine, as well as co-winner, with soccer player Alphonso Davies, of the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year.

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Fanny Rosenfeld

Fanny "Bobbie" Rosenfeld, track and field athlete, sportswriter (born 28 December 1904 in Ekaterinoslav, Russia [now Dnipro, Ukraine]; died 13 November 1969 in Toronto, ON).

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Guy Lafleur

Guy Damien Lafleur, OC, CQ, hockey player (born 20 September 1951 in Thurso, QC). Lafleur is one of the most offensively skilled Montreal Canadiens players of all time.

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Jackie Robinson and the Montreal Royals (1946)

On 15 April 1947, Jackie Robinson played in his debut game with the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first African American to play in the major leagues in the modern era. Prior to that point, professional baseball in the United States was segregated, with African Americans playing in the Negro leagues. When Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s colour barrier in 1947, he entered American history books. What many baseball fans may not realize, however, is that Robinson was embraced by Canadian fans one year earlier as a member of the Montreal Royals, a farm team for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

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Johnny Bright

John “Johnny” Bright, football player (born 11 June 1930 in Fort Wayne, Indiana; died 14 December 1983 in Edmonton, AB). One of the most talented running backs in the history of the Canadian Football League (CFL), Bright seemed destined for a career in America’s National Football League (NFL). A top college player in the United States, he was attacked during a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) game in his senior year (1951); most people, including Bright, believed the attack was racially motivated. He was drafted by the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles in 1952 but accepted an offer from the Calgary Stampeders instead. Bright played 13 seasons (1952–64) in the CFL with the Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos. In 1959, he became the first Black player to win the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player award. Bright holds the Eskimos franchise records for most rushing yards in a career (9,966) and most rushing yards in a season (1,722 in 1958).

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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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Alexandre Bilodeau

Alexandre Bilodeau, freestyle skier (born 8 September 1987 in Montreal, QC). Alexandre Bilodeau’s gold medal in moguls at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver made him the first Canadian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal on home soil. At the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, he became the first male Canadian athlete to successfully defend his Olympic gold medal; as well as the first freestyle skier to win consecutive Olympic gold medals. He finished his career with three world championships in dual moguls and 19 World Cup medals. He then became an accountant and a national spokesperson for people with disabilities. He has been inducted into the Québec Sports Hall of Fame, the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

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Benoît Huot

​Benoît Huot, swimmer (born 24 January 1984 in Longueuil, QC). One of Canada’s most successful swimmers, Huot has won 20 medals at the Paralympic Games, 12 medals at the Parapan American Games and over 30 medals at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Swimming Championships.

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Sheldon Kennedy

Sheldon Kennedy, CM, OM, AOE, hockey player, activist (born 15 June 1969 in Brandon, MB). Sheldon Kennedy is a retired professional ice hockey player and a public advocate for child abuse prevention. He was part of the 1988 World Junior Championship-winning team and captained the 1989 Memorial Cup champion Swift Current Broncos before playing eight seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL). In 1996, he came forward with revelations of years of sexual abuse at the hands of his junior hockey coach. Named the Canadian Press Newsmaker of the Year in 1997, Kennedy became a public speaker and activist. He is a member of the Order of Manitoba, the Alberta Order of Excellence and the Order of Canada. He has been inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and received the Order of Hockey in Canada.

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Steve Nash

Stephen John Nash, OC, OBC, basketball player (born 7 February 1974 in Johannesburg, South Africa). Steve Nash is widely considered the greatest Canadian basketball player of all time. He is a two-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player (MVP) and the first Canadian to win the award. A point guard, Nash was an eight-time NBA all-star. He ranks third on the NBA’s all-time assists leaderboard with 10,335 and second in career free-throw percentage with 90.43 per cent. He represented Canada in international competition and led the Canadian Senior Men’s National Team to the quarter-finals of the 2000 Olympic Summer Games. Nash is a three-time winner of the Lionel Conacher Award as Canada’s best male athlete. He won the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete in 2005. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and has been inducted into the Order of British Columbia, Canada’s Walk of Fame, the Phoenix Suns Ring of Honour and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He was named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame on 27 May 2020 and will be formally inducted in 2021. He was named the head coach of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets on 3 September 2020.