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Origins of Ice Hockey

The origins of ice hockey have long been debated. In 2008, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) officially declared that the first game of organized ice hockey was played in Montreal in 1875. Many also consider ice hockey’s first rules to have been published by the Montreal Gazette in 1877. However, research reveals that organized ice hockey/bandy games were first played on skates in England and that the earliest rules were also published in England. Canada made important contributions to the game from the 1870s on. By the early 20th century, “Canadian rules” had reshaped the sport.

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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.

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Goaltender Masks

The first goaltender to wear a mask in an organized ice hockey game was Elizabeth Graham of Queen’s University in 1927. The first National Hockey League (NHL) goalie to wear a mask full-time was Jacques Plante of the Montreal Canadiens; he wore a face-hugging fibreglass mask created by Bill Burchmore beginning in 1959. The construction and design of goalie masks gradually improved to include a caged section over the eyes and nose. This hybrid-style fibreglass mask was adapted for use in baseball by Toronto Blue Jays catcher Charlie O’Brien in 1996. However, concerns have arisen over the safety of goalie masks and goalie-style catcher masks, particularly their ability to protect against concussions.

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Women and Sport

Despite early successes, women have had to fight to be involved in sports, and to be recognized for their athletic achievement. While female participation in sports has boomed over the last three decades, many girls and women still face barriers and discrimination in the sports world.

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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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Edmonton Elks

The Edmonton Elks (formerly the Edmonton Football Team, or EE Football Team, and the Edmonton Eskimos) is a community-owned football team that plays in the West Division of the Canadian Football League (CFL). In the CFL’s modern era (post-Second World War), the team has won the second-most Grey Cup championships (14). This included three victories in a row from 1954 to 1956 and an unprecedented five straight championships from 1978 to 1982. The club also holds the North American professional sports record for reaching the playoffs in 34 consecutive seasons (1972–2005). Notable alumni include former Alberta premiers Peter Lougheed and Don Getty, former lieutenant-governor of Alberta Norman Kwong, former Edmonton mayor Bill Smith, and former NFL star Warren Moon.

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Hart Memorial Trophy

The Hart Memorial Trophy (originally the Hart Trophy) is awarded annually to the player determined to be the “most valuable” to his National Hockey League (NHL) team during the regular season. The winner is chosen through a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

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Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy

The Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy was added to the NHL’s awards for individual excellence in 1999. It is awarded each year to the league’s top goal scorer during the regular season. The trophy honours former Montreal Canadiens superstar Maurice “Rocket” Richard, who was the first player to score 50 goals in a season and the first to reach the 500-goal plateau. The tribute to Richard was a gift from the Montreal Canadiens and was first proposed by team president Ronald Corey. The award’s first recipient was Teemu Selanne of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Alex Ovechkin has won the award nine times — more than any other player.

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Canadian Olympic Committee

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) is the organization responsible for Canada’s participation at the Olympic Games, Pan American Games, and Youth Olympic Games. It helps select and financially assist Canadian cities in their efforts to host an Olympic Games or Pan American Games. It also manages programs that promote the values of the Olympics throughout Canada. The organization, which was known as the Canadian Olympic Association (COA) from 1912 to 2002, has a staff of more than 100 people. Its offices are in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

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Conn Smythe Trophy

The Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded annually to the player judged most valuable to his team in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cupplayoffs. The player is selected by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association following the final game of the playoffs. The trophy was first presented in 1964 in honour of Conn Smythe, former coach, manager and owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, the only Maple Leaf to win the award is Dave Keon (1967). Two-time winners include Bobby Orr(1970, 1972), Bernie Parent (1974, 1975), Wayne Gretzky (1985, 1988), Mario Lemieux (1991, 1992) and Sidney Crosby (2016, 2017), while Patrick Roy won the award three times (1986, 1993, 2001). Five players have won the trophy despite their team losing the Stanley Cup Final: Roger Crozier (1966), Glenn Hall (1968), Reggie Leach(1976), Ron Hextall (1987) and Jean-Sébastien Giguère (2003).

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Stanley Cup

The Stanley Cup is the oldest trophy competed for by professional athletes in North America. It was donated by Governor General Lord Stanley in 1892 for presentation to the top hockey team in Canada, and was first awarded to the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (1892–93). Since 1926, the Stanley Cup competition has been under the control of the National Hockey League(NHL). The Montreal Canadiens are the most successful team in Stanley Cup history, with 24 victories, followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs with 13. These two “Original Six” teams dominated the championship from the 1940s to the 1970s. (See also Lord Stanley and the Stanley Cup.)

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Calder Memorial Trophy

The Calder Memorial Trophy is awarded annually “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.” First presented in 1933, the trophy is named for Frank Calder, who was president of the NHL from 1917 to 1943. The winner is chosen through a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season and is awarded after the Stanley Cup playoffs. Players who have won the trophy and gone on to stardom include Terry Sawchuk, Bobby Orr, Ken Dryden, Ray Bourque, Mario Lemieux and Martin Brodeur.

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Lady Byng Memorial Trophy

The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League (NHL) player “adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” The trophy was donated to the NHL in 1925 by Lady Evelyn Byng, wife of Governor General Byng. It was known as the Lady Byng Trophy until her death in 1949, when it was renamed the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. The winner is chosen through a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season and is awarded after the Stanley Cup playoffs. Notable winners include Frank Boucher, Wayne Gretzky, Red Kelly, Pavel Datsyuk, Mike Bossy, Ron Francis and Martin St. Louis.

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Vezina Trophy

The Vezina Trophy is awarded to the best goaltender in the National Hockey League during the regular season. Created in 1927 in honour of Georges Vézina, who died in 1926 at the age of 39, the trophy was originally awarded to the goaltender with the best goals-against average. Beginning in 1946, it was presented to the main goalie for the team that had allowed the fewest goals in the regular season; in 1965, it was expanded to include all of the team’s goalies who had played in at least 25 games. Since 1982, the winner has been determined by a vote among all NHL general managers. Voting occurs at the end of the regular season and the trophy is handed out during the NHL Awards, following the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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James Norris Memorial Trophy

The James Norris Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the player selected by hockey writers as the best defenceman in the National Hockey League (NHL) during the regular season. It was presented to the league in 1953 by the children of James Norris, former owner of the Detroit Red Wings. The winner is chosen through a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season and is awarded after the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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Art Ross Trophy

The Art Ross Trophy is awarded annually to the player who leads the National Hockey League in scoring points during the regular season. If there is a tie at the end of the season, the trophy is awarded to the player with the most goals. The trophy was donated in 1948 by Arthur Howey Ross, general manager of the Boston Bruins. Several players have won the award multiple times, including Wayne Gretzky (10 times), Gordie Howe and Mario Lemieux (6 times), Phil Esposito and Jaromir Jagr (5), Stan Mikita (4), and Bobby Hull and Guy Lafleur (3).

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Canada at the 2020 Olympic Summer Games

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Olympic Summer Games were the first Olympic Games to be postponed. They were held in Tokyo, Japan, from 23 July to 8 August 2021. Canada sent 371 athletes (225 women, 146 men) and finished 11th in the overall medal standings with 24 (seven gold, six silver, 11 bronze). It is the most Canada has ever won at a non-boycotted Olympic Summer Games. Of the 24 medals, 18 were won by Canadian women. The seven gold medals tied Canada’s record at a non-boycotted Olympic Summer Games. Highlights for Canada at the Tokyo Games included Penny Oleksiak becoming Canada’s most decorated Olympian; Andre De Grasse winning three medals, including gold in the men’s 200 m dash; the Canadian women’s soccer team winning gold for the first time in dramatic fashion; and gold medallist Damian Warner becoming only the fourth athlete in Olympic history to score more than 9,000 points in the decathlon.

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Dene Games

Dene games are tests of physical and mental skill that were originally used by the Dene (northern Athabascan peoples) to prepare for the hunting and fishing seasons, and to provide entertainment. Today, Dene games (e.g., Finger Pull and Hand Games) are still played in many schools and community centres in the North as a means of preserving tradition and culture. As competitive sports, Dene games are also featured in various national and international athletic competitions, including the Arctic Winter Games.