Anne Heggtveit: A good night’s sleep brings Olympic gold

by Dalton Campbell

In 1960, Anne Heggtveit won Canada’s first Olympic gold in alpine skiing.

She was competing in the VIII Olympic Winter Games, in what is now Palisades Tahoe, California. In her first two races, the women’s giant slalom and the downhill, Anne had finished 12th. She said that the evening before the third race, the slalom, the other racers were out trying to familiarize themselves with the course, but she went back to her room to sleep. She thought that if she looked at the course that evening, she would become nervous and probably not sleep well. Her decision was the right one: she finished first, beating the silver medalist by more than 3 seconds, earning the gold in the slalom.

A young woman wearing a winter coat holding a medal in her left hand.

Anne Heggtveit with her Olympic gold medal in alpine skiing, 1960. The medal, at 55 mm in diameter, was one of the smallest awarded at the Winter Games. By comparison, since 2000, the smallest medal awarded at a Winter Olympics has been 85 mm in diameter. (a209759)

Following her extraordinary success at the Olympic Games, she surprised the sports world when she announced her retirement in March 1960. In an interview with the Globe and Mail later that year, she said that she would miss the sport and her friendships, but that she thought the years of preparation for the 1964 Olympics would be too much of an emotional strain. She discussed the importance of balancing confidence and recklessness when skiing. She also said, “When you stand at the top of that course, you can be scared stiff, you can feel you don’t care what happens to you, or you can suddenly feel the perfect mixture of emotions that can help you make a championship run.”

Her retirement, although a shock, was similar to that of her teammate Lucile Wheeler, who retired in 1958 after winning that season’s world slalom and downhill titles. In an interview in 2019 for The Canadian Encyclopedia, Anne described how Lucile had been a trailblazer, as one of the first Canadians to train in Europe. Anne learned from Lucile at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy, where Lucile earned a bronze in the downhill and Anne had three top-30 finishes.

Anne’s 1960 Olympic results also gave her the Fédération internationale de ski (FIS) [International Ski Federation] world gold medal and the gold in Alpine combined. At the time, the FIS did not hold separate championships in Olympic years; instead, it awarded medals based on the Olympic results. This was her second FIS Alpine combined title. She also won in 1959.

In 1960, Anne received the Lou Marsh Award as Canadian athlete of the year and was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. Her win was voted Canadian sports story of the year. Her medal was one of only four medals earned by the Canadian team.

Anne had an early start in skiing. Her father, who immigrated to Canada from Norway as a young man, was Canada’s cross-country ski champion in 1934, but was unable to raise money to go to the 1936 Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Anne started skiing when she was two years of age and entered her first competition at five. From the age of 8, her goal was to win the Olympic gold medal.

She twice received the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as Canada’s female athlete of the year (1959, 1960), was elected to the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame (1971), and was awarded the Order of Canada (1976). After her retirement, Anne married, started a family and taught skiing, among other pursuits. In 1988, she was an Olympic flag bearer at the Calgary Olympics.

Further research


Dalton Campbell is an archivist in the Science, Environment and Economy Section of the Private Archives Division.

What was really signed on Parliament Hill 40 years ago, on April 17, 1982?

By Natasha Dubois

There are many terms used to describe this particular moment in Canadian history: patriation of the Constitution, signing of the Constitution, signing of the Charter, and more. All of these terms are both correct and incomplete.

Yes, the Canadian Constitution was indeed patriated 40 years ago, in the sense that only Canada has the power to amend it now, not the United Kingdom. It was not signed, however, because it was a legislative act of the British Parliament. British and Canadian laws are proclaimed, not signed, by the head of state. As for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is not even a document, so it cannot be officially signed.

So what document was actually signed on April 17, 1982?

On that date, Queen Elizabeth II signed the Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982 (Schedule B of the Canada Act 1982, proclaimed by the United Kingdom a few weeks earlier), which gives Canada the power to amend its own constitution and includes, among other things, the wording of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

A page of coloured calligraphy. The Canada Coat of Arms and a few signatures are at the top centre, with other signatures at the bottom centre.

Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982. Damaged slightly by rain during the signing ceremony, this version is informally known as the “raindrop” copy (e008125379)

So, then, what is the Charter?

 We often see posters of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, with the Canada Coat of Arms and the signature of the prime minister, but if this is not an official document, then what is it?

A typewritten page in colour. The Canada Coat of Arms is at the top centre, and a drawing of the main Parliament Building is at the bottom centre. There is a signature in the bottom-right corner.

Poster published by the Government of Canada to promote the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (e010758222_s1-v8)

Contrary to popular belief, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is not a document in and of itself. It is actually Part I of the Constitution Act, 1982 and was presented in poster format in 1985. This poster was never officially signed or proclaimed, since it is not a complete proclamation or legislative act. It is also missing the Great Seal of Canada, which must be affixed to all proclamations and certain official documents of Canada.

In 1985, after all of the provisions of Part I of the Constitution Act, 1982 came into force, the government wanted to promote its contents (that is, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms). To do so, it created posters that looked like an official document, with a stamped signature of the prime minister of the day, and distributed more than 250,000 copies to schools, libraries and public places across Canada. Today, the Charter poster can be downloaded (PDF format) or a printed version can be ordered (certificate or poster) from the Canadian Heritage website. Unfortunately, there is no official original version of this poster in the collections held at Library and Archives Canada (LAC).

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is available in 29 languages and seems to have served as a model for the creation of several other constitutions and charters of rights throughout the world. It has also inspired hundreds of works in Canadian literature, many of which have been acquired by LAC through legal deposit: legal treatises, theses and dissertations, professional journal articles, popular works and even children’s literature.

So, what was signed on April 17, 1982?

On March 29, 1982, the United Kingdom proclaimed the Canada Act 1982, Schedule B of which is the Constitution Act, 1982, which applies only to Canada. On April 17, 1982, Queen Elizabeth II signed the proclamation bringing the Constitution Act, 1982 into force for Canada.

According to British and Canadian rules, before legislation comes into force, it must go through a number of steps. First, the bill must be introduced in both chambers of Parliament, where it is discussed and debated before being passed by each chamber. The act must then be proclaimed by the head of state, that is, through royal assent (the Queen’s or the Governor General’s signature). Following the adoption of the Canada Act 1982, the Government of Canada itself drafted the text for the Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982, which the Queen agreed to sign in Ottawa on April 17, 1982. As with all previous Canadian proclamations, the other signatories were the Registrar General of Canada and the Attorney General of Canada. The Prime Minister of Canada also signed the 1982 proclamation, although this was not essential for the document to be considered official.

In fact, the signing ceremony of April 17, 1982, was only the public display of the real political event occurring at the time: Canada’s acquisition of the last political power that it needed to become a truly sovereign state. Until then, only the British Parliament had the power to amend Canada’s Constitution, under the British North America Act of 1867.

In enacting the Canada Act 1982, the United Kingdom agreed that no subsequent act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom would have effect in Canada. This act was also the only British law to be written in both English and French since the Middle Ages.

The Constitution Act, 1982 (Schedule B of the Canada Act 1982) affirms the primacy of the Canadian Constitution over any other law and defines what constitutes the Canadian Constitution (Part VII). This act also sets out the procedures for amending the Canadian Constitution (Part IV), and contains sections on the rights of Indigenous peoples (Part II) and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Part I).

This is why the Charter is said to be enshrined in the Canadian Constitution. The Charter cannot be amended without amending the Constitution, because the Constitution Act, 1982 is an integral part of the Canadian Constitution (Part VII). The constitutional amendment procedures (Part V) would have to be used. This also explains why the Charter takes precedence over all other legislation in the country, because it is one of the components of the Constitution.

In conclusion, there is no single document that can be called the “Charter.” Multiple reproductions of the text that makes up the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are available free of charge. Even though LAC does not have the original poster of the Charter, it does preserve in its collections parchment facsimiles of all six of Canada’s constitutional documents: the Royal Proclamation (1763), the Quebec Act (1774), the Constitution Act (1791), the Act of Union (1840), the British North America Act (1867) and the Canada Act 1982. This collection of parchment copies of the documents was given to Canada by the United Kingdom after the signing of the Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982. Approximately 40 pages long, the Canada Act 1982 comes closest to being the original version of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In some ways, this constitutional text can be considered to be our national copy of the Charter.

Related resources


Natasha Dubois is an archivist in the Government Archives Division at Library and Archives Canada.