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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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Edmonton Grads

The Edmonton Grads (1915–40) was a women’s championship basketball team coached by Percy Page. During their 25 years as a team, the Grads won an astounding 95 per cent of their matches. The Grads were national and world champions, often defeating their opponents by lopsided scores. The team won the Underwood International Trophy (USA–Canada) for 17 years straight (1923 to 1940), and was undefeated in 24 matches held in conjunction with the Olympic Summer Games in 1924, 1928 and 1936. The Grads were named to Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.

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Canada at the 1956 Olympic Winter Games

The 1956 Olympic Winter Games were held in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, from 26 January to 5 February 1956. Canada sent 35 athletes (27 men, 8 women) and finished ninth in the overall medal count with one silver and two bronze medals. Figure skating pair Frances Dafoe and Norris Bowden took home silver, while Lucile Wheeler won Canada’s first medal in alpine skiing, finishing third in the women’s downhill race. In ice hockey, Canada took the bronze medal, defeated by both the Americans and the Soviets, who won gold in their debut at the Olympic Winter Games.

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Canada at the 1936 Olympic Winter Games

The 1936 Olympic Winter Games were held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, from 6 to 16 February 1936. Canada sent 29 athletes (22 men, 7 women) and placed ninth in the overall medal count with one silver medal. For the first time at the Olympic Winter Games, Canada did not win the gold medal in ice hockey. It was a controversial result, with the Port Arthur Bear Cats finishing second to a British team that included several Canadian players. The 1936 Olympic Winter Games were themselves contentious, given the anti-Semitic policies of German Chancellor Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party. Left-wing and Jewish groups in Canada and other countries proposed a boycott of the Games but were unsuccessful.

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Vancouver Asahi

The Asahi was a Japanese Canadian baseball club in Vancouver (1914–42). One of the city’s most dominant amateur teams, the Asahi used skill and tactics to win multiple league titles in Vancouver and along the Northwest Coast. In 1942, the team was disbanded when its members were among the 22,000 Japanese Canadians who were interned by the federal government (see Internment of Japanese Canadians). The Asahi were inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003 and the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.

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Canada at the 1960 Olympic Winter Games

The 1960 Olympic Winter Games were held in Squaw Valley, California, from 18 to 28 February 1960. Canada sent 44 athletes (34 men, 10 women) and finished eighth in the overall medal count with four medals (two gold, one silver and one bronze). Anne Heggtveit won gold in the slalom, becoming the first Canadian Olympic ski champion. Robert Paul and Barbara Wagner dominated the pairs figure skating competition in their second Winter Games, while Donald Jackson added a bronze medal in men’s figure skating. The Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen represented Canada in the Olympic hockey tournament and finished second to the Americans. It was the last time Canada was represented by a club team in Olympic hockey.

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1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)

For many Canadians, particularly baby boomers and Generation X, the eight-game hockey series between Team Canada and the national team of the Soviet Union in September 1972 provided the greatest moment in Canada’s sporting history. Most expected that Canada would handily defeat the Soviet Union, but this confidence quickly disappeared when Canada lost the first game. The series was tied heading into the final game in Moscow, which ended in dramatic fashion, with Paul Henderson scoring in the final seconds to give Canada the victory. The series became as much a Cold War political battle of democracy versus communism and freedom versus oppression as it was about hockey. The series had a lasting impact on hockey in Canada and abroad.