Race (noun) – a competition between runners, horses, vehicles, boats, etc., to see which is the fastest in covering a set course.Yes, Canadians race through all kinds of weather and situations too! Visit the Flickr album now!
By J. Andrew Ross
Last year, the National Hockey League (NHL) celebrated the 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup. The celebration year was no doubt chosen because 2017 was also the NHL’s centennial year. However, even though 125 years earlier, on March 18, 1892, it had been announced that Governor General Frederick Arthur Stanley, 1st Baron Stanley, wished to donate a challenge cup for the hockey championship of the Dominion of Canada, that cup only arrived in Canada the following year. Further complicating matters, the team that was to receive the Stanley Cup actually refused it, and was only persuaded to take possession of the trophy in 1894.
Anniversaries aside, the story of how the Stanley Cup eventually became Canada’s holiest sports icon can be told through the collection of Library and Archives Canada.
By the time his cup arrived in Canada, Stanley had returned to England before the end of his term as governor general, having become the 16th Earl of Derby upon his brother’s death. Stanley appointed Ottawa Evening Journal publisher Philip Dansken (“P.D.”) Ross as one of two trustees of the trophy, and left it to him to fashion the rules of competition.
The entry in Ross’s diary for Sunday, April 23, 1893, notes that he sat down that day to draft the new rules, which were printed in his newspaper on May 1, 1893.
While the bowl had already been engraved as the “Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup,” Ross immediately asserted that it should be known as the Stanley Cup in honour of its donor. He confirmed that it would be presented in the first instance to the reigning champions of the elite hockey league of the era, the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada (AHAC), with the idea that they would then defend it against the champions of the Ontario Hockey Association. Ross arranged for the Stanley Cup to be presented to the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (MAAA) team as the reigning champions of the AHAC, “until the championship of the [AHAC] … be decided next year [i.e., 1894], when the Cup shall go to the winning team.”
On May 15, 1893, Sheriff John Sweetland of Ottawa, the other Stanley Cup trustee, travelled to Montreal to present the trophy at the MAAA’s annual meeting. When he arrived with the Stanley Cup—at that time just a simple bowl on a wooden base—he learned that the executive officers of the hockey team had declined to attend the ceremony. The minutes of the meeting, which are in the MAAA fonds (and available online), note: “Sheriff Sweetland then made the presentation, which was accepted by Mr. Taylor [the MAAA president] owing to the unavoidable absence of Mr Stewart the President of the Mtl Hockey Club on behalf of the Assn and the abovenamed club.”
It is not clear whether Sweetland realized that he and the Cup had been snubbed, but the hockey club’s absence had not been “unavoidable.” They had deliberately boycotted the event upon learning that the Cup was to be presented to the MAAA executive and not the team—and that the Cup had been engraved with “Montreal AAA/1893” on a ring around the wooden base of the bowl. The conflict was apparently rooted in the resentment of the hockey club members about being known by the name “MAAA,” rather than the Montreal Hockey Club (Montreal HC). It was a petty point of honour since the hockey club wore the MAAA emblem of the winged wheel on their uniforms, but one that clearly mattered to the proud hockey players.
It was only after almost a year of contentious negotiations—at one point, the MAAA threatened to send the Cup back to the trustees!—that, in March 1894, the Montreal HC finally agreed to take possession of the Stanley Cup. A few weeks later, the club won the AHAC championship yet again, making them the first winners (as opposed to simply the holders) of the Cup. This time, the team took responsibility for the engraving, and pointedly used “Montreal 1894.” With no reference being made to the MAAA, honour was seemingly served.
The next season, the Montreal HC became the first team to successfully defend the trophy in the first Stanley Cup series. Its insistence on getting its own name on the Cup may have been worth the effort, even if its prolonged refusal to accept the trophy risked making the Cup irrelevant. But the Stanley Cup was finally awarded, and the rest is history.
Andrew Ross is an archivist in the Government Archives Division, and the author of Joining the Clubs: The Business of the National Hockey League to 1945.
By Kelly Anne Griffin
Canadians have been playing in various major baseball leagues since the 1870s. The first to do so was New Brunswick native Bill Phillips, who played first base for the Cleveland franchise. In 1883, Ontario native Tip O’Neill, the greatest pre-1900 Canadian player, would make his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut. Since then many have followed suit. The only Canadian to earn his place with a plaque on the walls of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, is Chatham, Ontario, native Ferguson Jenkins. Jenkins had a remarkable pitching career with 284 major league wins.
While Jenkins is the only Canadian in Cooperstown, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in Saint Marys, Ontario, honours Canadians’ contributions to the game both on and off the field. Canada has also been home to two MLB franchises, starting with the National League expansion in 1968.
The Montreal Expos – Nos Amours
The Expos had an exhilarating first week. At Shea stadium on April 8, 1969, “O Canada” played at an MLB game for the first time, bringing team owner Charles Bronfman to tears and giving rise to “Les Expos, Nos Amours”, the nickname affectionately given to the team by fans. The exciting game ended with an 11 to 10 Expos win over the New York Mets. On April 14, in the first MLB game played outside the US, the Expos won over a packed house of fans at Jarry Park in Montreal. Three days later pitcher Bill Stoneman threw a no-hitter against the Phillies. Montreal was captivated and the wild ride began.
Despite an excellent farm system and outstanding talent, the Expos made it to the postseason only once, in 1981. Under the guidance of Canadian Baseball Hall-of-Fame manager Jim Fanning, the ’81 season saw Warren Cromartie, Andre Dawson and Gary Carter all hitting over .300, and Hall of Famer Tim Raines stealing a league-high 71 bases. The season, interrupted by a strike, saw them win the National League East title. They went on to play the Dodgers and came within one win of advancing to the World Series when Rick Monday hit a 9th inning home run securing Dodgers victory. That hit ended the Expos’ run and the fateful day became known as “Blue Monday” to fans.
Ironically, a second work stoppage dashed fans’ hopes in 1994. In that magical season, manager Felipe Alou had the Expos sitting on top of the baseball world with a 74 wins and 40 losses record. The 232-day strike resulted in commissioner Bud Selig cancelling the World Series and so ending the chances of an Expos playoff run.
The franchise never recovered from the strike, either on the field or in the stands. In 2004, after 36 years, the Expos played their last game at Olympic stadium. The Expos’ first French-Canadian player, Claude Raymond, who had played in their inaugural 1969 season, gave a tearful final speech to fans, providing a bookend for the franchise.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays were founded in 1977 as part of the American League expansion. The team has won six Eastern Division titles, two American League pennants and two World Series titles.
The Blue Jays first game in franchise history took place at Exhibition Stadium on April 7, 1977. Fans braved the unseasonably frigid temperatures to witness the historic event that resulted in a 9 to 5 win over the Chicago White Sox. An unknown first-baseman named Doug Ault slammed two homeruns to become the first Jays hero.
After many turbulent years, the Blue Jays finally made 1992 a historic one for Canadian baseball. They won their first American League championship and became the first team based outside the United States to win a World Series Championship. As a sign of respect for the team that had paved the way, the Jays asked the Expos’ original owner, Charles Bronfman, to perform the ceremonial first pitch prior to Game 3 of the series. The impressive six-game World Series concluded with Dave Winfield driving in the winning runs in the 11th inning. Jays catcher Pat Borders was awarded the series MVP.
The Blue Jays’ success continued into the 1993 season as they defended their title of American League champions. John Olerud became the first Blue Jay to win a batting title. The Jays went on to defend their World Series championship, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. In a moment forever etched in the memory of fans, Joe Carter hit a theatrical home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the deciding game. It was only the second time in World Series history that a series had ended on a home run.
The luck ended two years later when the Jays finished dead last in the American League East. Jump ahead to 2015, however, and the 22-season streak of failing to reach the post-season was broken under Manager John Gibbons, with the Jays winning their sixth American League East Division title. They then came back from a two-game deficit to beat the Texas Rangers in the Division Series. That series included the iconic home run and bat flip by right fielder Jose Bautista. In the American League Championship Series, the Jays lost to the Kansas City Royals, who would go on to win the World Series.
For the Jays, the 2016 regular season proved inconsistent and found them in second place in the American League East. However, they battled to make it to the sudden-death American League Wild Card game, where, in a nail-biter, they defeated the Baltimore Orioles 5 to 2, thanks to Edwin Encarnacion’s dramatic walk-off homerun in extra innings before a packed Rogers Centre crowd of roaring Canadians. A new generation of Canadian baseball fans had arrived.
Canada and baseball have not always had an easy relationship, but it has been one full of exciting and individual moments. Baseball in Canada has served as an introduction for children to the importance of team work, it has been there for soldiers in wartime, and it has united the country in times of both triumph and defeat.
“Cheers” to many more memories and many more moments for the history books as Canada plays ball!
- Diamond of the North: A Concise History of Baseball in Canada by William Humber (AMICUS 14058982)
- Full Count: Four Decades of Blue Jays Baseball by Jeff Blair (AMICUS 41528327)
- The Montreal Star Fonds
- Rusins Kaufmanis Collection
Kelly Anne Griffin is an archival technician in the Science, Environment and Economy section of the Archives Division at Library and Archives Canada.
By Kelly Anne Griffin
Long before unforgettable Canadian baseball moments, such as Joe Carter’s World-Series-winning home run, the emotion and pride Canadians felt as our national anthem was performed for the first time at a Major League Baseball (MLB) game, and Jose Bautista’s iconic bat flip, baseball already had a strong presence in Canada. While many of us consider baseball a North American sport, it actually has its origins in the European bat-and-ball game played by British schoolkids known as rounders. Variations of baseball were being played in Canada at least three decades before Confederation. The first documented account of the game, however, comes from Beachville, Ontario, on June 4, 1838. Southwestern Ontario was where the game was most prominent in these early days.
The first official Canadian baseball team was formed as a result of efforts by William Shuttleworth, who was known as the father of Canadian baseball. The first pioneering team, comprised of various working class men from around Hamilton, was called the Young Canadians. For the next two decades, teams adhering to different rules sprouted up all over Canada. As the popularity of the sport soared, businessmen sponsored their favourite teams as a way to promote their products, and the Canadian Association of Baseball Players was founded. At this time, rather than competing nationally, many local baseball clubs competed cross-border with their closest American neighbours. By 1913, there were 24 minor league teams in Canada.
First World War
Sports were an important part of everyday life in Europe for Canadian troops during the First World War. They served as a way to break the monotony of the troops’ duties and relieve stress. The leadership saw sports as a way of keeping the men out of trouble and boosting their morale while they stayed physically fit. Baseball became so beloved by soldiers that it was even sponsored by the government. In April 1916, the government held a fundraiser with the proceeds going towards baseball equipment.
Second World War
During the Second World War, baseball continued to be a favourite pastime of troops. With the Americans’ arrival in 1942, there were suddenly plenty of other teams against which to compete. As was the case in the early days of the game back at home, Canada-versus-the-US games were commonplace. One of the most memorable games occurred at Wembley Stadium on August 3, 1942, with 6,000 cheering fans in the stands. The Canadian troops defeated US Army Headquarters, 5 to 3.
Upon returning to Canada, many soldiers spoke fondly of the baseball games and continued playing and watching back home. While Canadians played many sports during war times, none was played as often or to such an enthusiastic audience as baseball.
In 1945, the young Negro Leagues player Jackie Robinson was approached by Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey. Shortly after that initial, secret meeting it was announced that Robinson had signed a contract with the organization. The plan was to find the path of least resistance to his race to ease him into the Majors. The first step was to assign Robinson to spring training in Florida then ease him into professional baseball in Montreal with the team’s triple-A affiliate. Montreal was a deliberate selection, a city in which Rickey believed Robinson could get acclimated to baseball with less of a negative experience than he likely could in many American cities. However, during that first spring, in 1946, Robinson experienced unrelenting racism. In Sanford, Florida, the sheriff stepped onto the field and cancelled an exhibition game because African Americans were not allowed to compete with white players.
Montreal was a more welcoming city for Jackie and his wife Rachel. While still not without incident, the city and its fans embraced him. In his first and only season in Montreal, Jackie helped lead the team to an exceptional record of 100 wins and only 54 losses.
Learn more about Jackie Robinson’s groundbreaking career.
From humble beginnings in southwestern Ontario to a favourite wartime activity to the city of Montreal embracing Jackie Robinson, by the middle of the 20th century baseball had captured the heart of the nation. Still, Canada’s love of baseball was about to take on new heights. With Major League Baseball on its way, more Canadians than ever would soon fall in love with the game.
- Diamond of the North: A Concise History of Baseball in Canada by William Humber (AMICUS 14058982)
- Jackie Robinson: Breaking the Color Line in Baseball by Matt J. Simmons (AMICUS 42657081)
- “Keep-A-Fighting! Play the Game!” Baseball and the Canadian Forces during the First World War by Andrew Horrall
Kelly Anne Griffin is an archival technician in the Science, Environment and Economy Section of the Archives Division at Library and Archives Canada.
This collective passport includes the photographs of, and information about, 19 men from the Royal Canadian Air Force Flyers who were on Canada’s 1948 Olympic Hockey Team. They departed on January 8, 1948, for the United States of America, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, and returned to Canada as gold medalists on April 8, 1948.
By Judith Enright-Smith
The 1912 summer Olympics held in Stockholm, Sweden, from May 5 to July 27 was a venue for many firsts. This fifth Olympiad, comprised of 2,408 athletes from 28 nations, was the first to showcase women’s swimming and diving events as well as the men’s pentathlon. It was the first Olympics to use electronic timing and the first occasion a team from Asia (Japan) competed at the games. For Canada, the 1912 summer Olympics meant another first—the first Canadian Black athlete to compete in the Olympic Games.
John Armstrong Howard was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on October 6, 1888. Howard was a qualified mechanic and played baseball for Winnipeg’s Crescent Creamery Baseball Club; at 6 foot 3 inches tall, he was also an exceptional sprinter. He handily qualified for the 1912 Olympics and was looked upon not only in sporting circles but also in the Canadian media as the nation’s best hope for bringing home a gold medal.
Walter Knox was coach of the 1912 Canadian Olympic Track and Field Team. During training, Knox and Howard had several disputes and confrontations. Knox described Howard as outspoken and disobedient and, at a time when discrimination against Black athletes was common, recommended he be fired from the team for “insubordination.” It was only through the intervention of the Amateur Athletic Union of Canada that Howard remained on the team.
While en route to Sweden, Howard faced discriminatory and prejudicial treatment, an affront endured by people of colour in that time. Before setting sail from Montreal, he was barred from the hotel where the other athletes were staying, and while on board, he had to eat his meals in a different dining area away from his teammates.
Once in Stockholm, the cumulative stress of his interactions with Knox manifested itself in the form of severe stomach complaints. At the games, Howard’s health issues seriously hindered his efforts and he was defeated in the semi-finals of the 100- and 200-metre sprint. However, once back home, Howard redeemed himself at the 1913 Canadian Outdoor Championships by winning every race he entered.
After the outbreak of the First World War, Howard went overseas in 1917 as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He worked in various English army hospitals carrying stretchers. His military records show that he suffered from chronic lung ailments. While overseas, Howard met Edith Lipscomb. Edith returned to Winnipeg with Howard in 1920 where they were married. They attempted to set up house in Ste. Rose du Lac, but experienced much hostility and prejudice as an interracial couple. Howard’s granddaughter, Valerie Jerome, tells of townspeople pelting the couple’s car with stones to drive them away. Eventually they settled near the Crane River Indian Reserve on the northwest shore of Lake Manitoba. The couple had three daughters, but the marriage did not last. Howard later died from pneumonia at the age of 48.
John Armstrong Howard’s athletic legacy lives on. Two of Howard’s grandchildren are Canadian athletes. Valerie Jerome is a sprinter who competed in the 1960 summer Olympics. Her brother Harry Jerome competed in the 1960, 1964 and 1968 summer Olympics, winning a bronze medal in 1964 in the 100-metre dash.
Judith Enright-Smith is an archival assistant in the Aboriginal and Social Affairs Section of the Private Archives Branch of Library and Archives Canada.
Ms. Greene Raine is an Officer of the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia and a member of both Sports Halls of Fame. She was named Canada’s female athlete of the 20th century by the Canadian Press and Broadcast News. She won gold and silver medals in alpine skiing at the 1968 Grenoble Olympics and overall World Cup titles in 1967 and 1968. Her total of 14 World Cup victories (including the Olympics) is still a Canadian record. During her nine-year career she won a total of 17 Canadian Championship titles.
- Senator Nancy Greene Raine – Senate of Canada
- Discover the Collection: Sports Canada at the Winter Olympics: An Essential Media Guide (2018)
Boxing is the sport of fighting with padded, gloved fists in a square, roped-off ring under a set number of rounds and rules.
However, the first boxers in Canada did not use gloves. Bareknuckle fisticuffs were the norm during the early 19th century, with some bouts lasting 40 rounds. Outside of the military and a few men’s clubs, boxing was not sanctioned in the provinces of Canada, as the sport did not have a great reputation for fair play or honest promotion. Respectability for the sport came slowly, and views changed during the 1890s. The popularity of the sport grew steadily during the early 20th century.
Today, the Canadian Amateur Boxing Association oversees the sport in coordination with 10 provincial and three territorial boxing associations. Some athletes eventually turn to professional boxing, while others retain their amateur status with the intent to represent Canada in international events, such as the Olympics or Commonwealth Games.