Fergie Jenkins’s Long and Grinding Road to Cooperstown

By Kelly Anne Griffin

The 700-kilometre journey from Chatham, Ontario, to Cooperstown, New York, under favourable conditions, can be a simple eight-hour drive. But for one young Canadian, his trip became a battle, facing Major League Baseball (MLB)’s best hitters and society’s racial barriers. Fergie Jenkins eventually arrived at baseball’s unique Hall-of-Fame destination after a long and grinding road and a lifetime of accomplishments.

Ferguson Jenkins was born in Chatham, Ontario, in 1942, the only child of Ferguson Jenkins Sr. and Delores Jackson. Fergie Sr. had immigrated to Canada from Barbados. Delores descended from enslaved people in the United States and had come to Southwestern Ontario via the famed Underground Railroad.

Jenkins’s love of sports came naturally, as both his parents grew up competing in athletics. His father became his sporting role model. Fergie Sr. played for the Chatham Coloured All-Stars, a top-tier amateur baseball team, during the 1930s, and was also an amateur boxer. The young Fergie Jr. excelled in track and field, hockey and basketball. The scope of his athletic skills is clear: between 1967 and 1969, in the baseball off-season, Jenkins was part of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team.

It was not until his teens that Fergie started playing baseball, the sport for which he would be known. He began his career playing first base, but others saw promise in his strong right arm. Fergie worked on his pitching skills by throwing pieces of coal from a local coal yard. To practice his aim, he chose targets such as an open ice chute or between the gaps of passing freight-train cars. At the age of 15, Jenkins was discovered by Philadelphia Phillies scout Gene Dziadura. Together, they continued to focus on fine-tuning Jenkins’s arm while he completed high school.

A city with houses and buildings on either side of a river, with a bridge connecting the two sides.

Aerial view of Chatham, a multicultural community in Southwestern Ontario, 1919 (a030462)

From Chatham, Ontario, to the Big Leagues

Like many young Canadians, Jenkins originally dreamed of becoming a professional hockey player. Canadians were rare in MLB in the ’60s. However, by the time Jenkins finished high school and his work with Dziadura, it was clear he was destined for pro baseball and maybe even the major leagues. Fergie was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1962 and made his big-league debut in 1965 as a relief pitcher. He became a starter shortly before being traded to the Chicago Cubs in April 1966.

On April 15, 1947, when Fergie was only 4 years old, Jackie Robinson broke major league baseball’s unwritten colour barrier and paved the way for future greats such as Jenkins. By the 1960s, baseball had come a long way for Black players, but there was still a long way to go. Fergie was sent to train in the minor leagues, playing in the Deep South of the United States, where washrooms and even stadium seating were segregated. It was definitely culture shock for Jenkins coming from Canada, a country that Jackie Robinson’s wife, Rachel, had called “heaven” after her year in Montreal in 1946.

For most of his 19-year baseball career, Jenkins pitched for the Chicago Cubs. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Jenkins emerged as one of baseball’s premier starters. He won 20 games per season—the gold standard for pitchers of that era—six years straight (1967–72) and seven times in total. The right-hander had remarkable control of all his pitches and, most important for a starter, he was consistent. Opponents feared his pinpoint fastball, and his arm, like many from that era, seemed more resilient than those of modern-day pitchers. He recorded more than 300 innings per season on five different occasions.

A Black man in a white baseball uniform pitching a baseball, with a scoreboard behind him

Baseball. Ferguson Jenkins pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, in action against the Montreal Expos
Date : 19 Sept. 1970. Credit : Montreal Star / Library and Archives of Canada (Mikan 3195251)

In 1982, Jenkins returned to Chicago as a free agent after excelling for the Texas Rangers. That same year he also recorded his 3,000th strikeout. At the time, he was the only pitcher in baseball history to strike out more than 3,000 batters while issuing less than 1,000 walks. In the 40 years since, this feat has only been matched by Greg Maddux, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.

Fergie remains the Cubs’ all-time strikeout king (2,038) and starts leader (347).

Awards and Honours

Jenkins’s remarkable career is marked by many outstanding MLB records. In 1971, Jenkins was the first Canadian pitcher to win the coveted Cy Young award, named after a Hall-of-Fame legend of the early 1900s. It is awarded annually to the best pitcher in each of the American and National Leagues, based on voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association. Jenkins led the league in wins twice (1971, 1974), and also led five times for the fewest walks per nine innings and nine times for the most complete games. He led the league in strikeouts in 1969 with an impressive 273. For six straight seasons between 1967 and 1972, he posted 20 or more wins. He is considered the anchor of the Black Aces, a group of African-American pitchers with at least 20 wins in a season. Jenkins’s total of 284 wins is still the most by a Black pitcher in major league history.

A Legacy to Remember

In 2009, the Chicago Cubs announced that Fergie’s number would be retired at Wrigley Field. In a ceremony on May 3, his number 31 was raised in left field, forever enshrining him as one of the greatest Chicago Cubs players in its storied 138-year history. In May 2022, the organization unveiled a statue of Jenkins outside his beloved Wrigley Field. At the ceremony, long-time radio voice Pat Hughes introduced him as “the greatest pitcher in the long and legendary history of the Chicago Cubs.”

On December 17, 1979, Jenkins was awarded the Order of Canada. In 1987, Jenkins was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ontario. Finally, in 1991, he earned the sport’s ultimate honour and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Jenkins was the first Canadian to grace the halls of Cooperstown, only joined by Larry Walker in 2020.

In December 2010, Canada Post announced Jenkins would be featured on his own postage stamp to commemorate Black History Month the following February. In 2011, Fergie travelled to 46 cities across Canada promoting the stamp and speaking to Canadians about Black History initiatives.

A stamp with a baseball player throwing a ball on the left and a man looking towards the camera on the right.

Commemorative stamp of Fergie Jenkins issued by Canada Post to honour Black History Month. (e011047401-v8)

Jenkins retired from the MLB in 1983, but he continues to be an active and visible presence in Canadian baseball. In 1999, he established the Fergie Jenkins Foundation in St. Catharines, Ontario. In 2011, the Foundation unveiled the Fergie Jenkins Baseball and Black History Museum. The Foundation continues to operate, raising millions of dollars for charities across North America. Fergie is a constant presence during the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s induction weekend. He warmly interacts with fans and young Canadian players that he helped inspire with his career accomplishments. Jenkins remains a stalwart figure in the promotion of baseball in Canada.

Other Resources


Kelly Anne Griffin is an Archival Assistant with Specialized Media and Description in the Government Archives Division at Library and Archives Canada.

Terry Fox– A Legacy of Hope

By Kelly Anne Griffin

Terrance Stanley Fox was born on July 28, 1958, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The family would eventually settle in Port Coquitlam, B.C., in 1968. As he was growing up, his family and friends described him as competitive and driven, someone who displayed a passion for sports and who excelled at both long-distance running and basketball. Little did they know he would go on to become a Canadian hero who would leave the world a better place than he found it.

In 1977, at the age of 18, Terry Fox was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma, a form of bone cancer, in his right leg. Tragically, this would result in amputation just above the knee. He went on to endure sixteen months of chemotherapy. During those grueling months, he was deeply affected by all the suffering and hardship he experienced and also witnessed in the others around him in the hospital receiving treatment for his horrible disease. At the time, cancer research was still in its infancy, and he knew there was much to be done for those affected by cancer. This led him to come up with the idea to run from coast to coast in what he coined the Marathon of Hope. His goal was to help inform Canadians of the battle cancer patients faced and to raise money for a cure.

A drawn image of a man with a prosthetic leg, running. The words Marathon of Hope, Terry Fox, Marathon de l’espoir and the number 30 are written.

The stamp issued by Canada Post in 1982 to commemorate Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope. (s003769k) Copyright: Canada Post Corporation

On April 12, 1980, Terry Fox dipped his prosthetic leg in the Atlantic Ocean and officially began the Marathon of Hope. The idea came to him after reading about Dick Traum, an amputee who had run the New York City Marathon. This gave Fox, a dedicated athlete, the idea to run across Canada to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.

What happened over the course of the next 143 days was truly inspirational. At the onset, there was little media attention, but that had changed by the time he reached Ontario. By then, the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division, had caught wind, as had the media and some prominent journalists. Events were held across the province, and saw Fox meeting with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and a host of celebrities. With fierce determination, and averaging 42 kilometres a day, he united and captivated Canadians in a way that had not been seen before and has not been seen since. On September 1, 1980, with the cancer having spread to his lungs, he was forced to end his cross-country journey after completing a remarkable 5,373 kilometres, from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, to Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Despite not being able to keep running, on February 1, 1981, Terry Fox realized his goal of raising $1 for every Canadian. On June 28, 1981, after a long and courageous battle, Terry Fox passed away. His legacy is enshrined in the hearts and minds of Canadians. The Marathon of Hope so touched Canadians that many wrote to the federal government speaking of how connected they felt to Fox and asking that the government find ways to keep his memory alive.

His legacy lives on with Canadians today. Since 1980, the annual Terry Fox Run, organized by the Terry Fox Foundation, has raised more than $850 million dollars. It has made an incalculable difference in cancer research in Canada and has given hope to millions affected by the disease. Over the years, Terry Fox’s impact has reached well beyond Canada. It has grown to include millions of participants in more than 60 countries. It is the world’s largest one-day fundraising event for cancer research.

A rectangle frame in which can be seen a photograph of a man placing a ribboned medal on another man, whose head is tilted downwards. In the upper right-hand corner, there is a postal stamp featuring a drawing of a man running and a postmark that reads “Day of issue, Jour d’émission, Ottawa Canada, 82-04-13.”

A postal cover of Terry Fox receiving the Companion of the Order of Canada medal, issued by Canada Post in April 1982. (e001218739) Copyright: Canada Post Corporation

A promotional poster with a black background featuring a red-and-white piggy bank out of which a daffodil grows. The following wording appears on the poster: “April is Cancer Month”; “give generously”; and “Canadian Cancer Society.”

A poster issued by the Canadian Cancer Society to promote Cancer Month (April). Terry Fox’s impact on cancer research and the annual Terry Fox run have deeply touched the lives of Canadians affected by cancer. (e010779335-v8) Copyright: Canadian Cancer Society

Fox is remembered as a Canadian hero for his efforts. For his dedication to the cause and his bringing together of Canadians, he was named a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1980, the youngest person ever to receive this honour. Also in 1980, he received the Lou Marsh Award as Canada’s top athlete. In both 1980 and 1981, the Canadian Press named him Canadian Newsmaker of the Year. His legacy is honoured all across Canada by way of monuments, statues and sculptures, as well as buildings, roads and parks named in his honour.

Additional resources:


Kelly Anne Griffin is an Archival Assistant with Specialized Media and Description in the Government Archives Division at Library and Archives Canada.

Proud to be peculiar: The little-known story of the Archives Museum

By Geneviève Morin

One ordinary June day in 2011, an unordinary mystery landed on the desks of Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) documentary art archivists. A small bronze statuette of James Wolfe by sculptor Vernon March had just been found at the Lord Elgin Hotel in Ottawa, carefully wrapped and secretly left unattended. The only clue was a note in which the anonymous author expressed regret at having stolen the statuette “in an act of foolishness” while visiting the Archives in the 1950s. Now in the twilight of his life, he was endeavouring to make amends…

The archivists familiar with the history of LAC’s non-textual collections immediately got to work: research was undertaken, paperwork was retrieved, and provenance was confirmed. The bronze likeness of General Wolfe had indeed been added to the Archives’ holdings in 1914! The statuette was gratefully retrieved and eventually transferred to its new current home, the Canadian Museum of History.

However, the question remains… Why would archives ever have collected that sort of sculpture in the first place? Do archives not typically stick to two-dimensional material like textual documents, photographs, maps and drawings? To be sure, even though many Canadians are aware that LAC and its predecessor institutions (the National Archives of Canada, the National Library of Canada and the Public Archives of Canada) have acquired non-textual material for over 130 years, few are familiar with the reason why our holdings were—and, in some cases, still are—so eclectic.

The bold ambition of Arthur Doughty

Simply put, the diversity of our past and present holdings is in large part owed to Canada’s second Dominion Archivist, Arthur Doughty. His ambition, as he explained in the Archives’ 1925 Catalogue of Pictures, was nothing short of making the institution “… a national department of history, where are preserved sources of every kind having value for the study of the history of Canada.” This was a substantial mandate, to say the least…

Black-and-white photograph of a man with a mustache wearing a dark suit and boots. He is sitting in a wood chair and reading a book beside a wood desk covered in papers. There are large plants, a wall with many framed images and a fireplace mantel in the background. General Wolfe’s leather campaign chair leans against the wall to the man’s right.

Dr. Arthur G. Doughty, Dominion Archivist, c. 1920, Pittaway Studio. (c051653)

Doughty’s vision caused a considerable increase in the types of material acquired by the Archives after his appointment, in 1904. The gargantuan Duberger model of Québec, pictured below, transferred from the British War Office in 1908, is one of the most striking examples of this change in acquisition practices.

Black-and-white photograph of a large room with display tables running along the sides and lights hanging from the ceiling. In the background, there is a large model of a city.

Grey Room, Public Archives of Canada, Sussex Street, after 1926. (a066642) (The model was built at Québec by draftsman Jean-Baptiste Duberger and Royal Engineer John By between 1806 and 1808. Today, the model is in the custody of Parks Canada.)

Over the years, the Archives became responsible for taking in thousands of diverse items, which included artefacts such as:

  • the red tunic worn by Isaac Brock at the time of his death during the Battle of Queenston Heights;
  • James Wolfe’s leather campaign chair (pictured above in Doughty’s office, left-hand side);
  • a war club said to have been used in the War of 1812 and several other weapons;
  • Indigenous eyewear, weapons and clothing;
  • mirrors, chandeliers and various pieces of furniture;
  • the nation’s most extensive collections of coins, tokens, paper money, medals and decorations;
  • and quirkier curiosities, such as a wooden potato pounder believed to have been used in the kitchen of Sir John Johnson, and an elaborate set of brass sleigh-bells having once belonged to Princess Louise and the Marquis of Lorne.

In short, nothing seemed to be off limits for the Archives, as long as it could teach Canadians something about their history.

Black-and-white photograph of a wood cabinet with a mirror. On top of the cabinet is an elaborately decorated mantel clock. There are two candelabras in the shape of cranes standing on turtles’ backs on either side of the cabinet.

Raingo Frères mantel clock on display at the Public Archives building, date unknown. (a066643)

A must-see for locals and visitors alike

Deemed “A Treasure-House for the Canadian Historian” by Saturday Night Magazine in 1910, the Archives came to develop a hugely successful museum program providing space for Canadians to immerse themselves in displays that combined publications, textual records, and varying forms of specialized media, such as maps, photographs, paintings, engravings, and three-dimensional artefacts. Coincidentally, the infamous Wolfe statuette can be seen in just such a display in the photograph below, taken around 1926, co-starring with Benjamin West’s painting The Death of General Wolfe in the Archives’ Northcliffe Room.

Black-and-white photo of a room with book cases and display cabinets. In the background, there are windows and plants.

The Northcliffe Room in the Public Archives Building, Sussex Street. Ottawa, Ont., ca. 1926-1930. (a137713). The Vernon March statuette of Wolfe can be seen on top of the display case below the large painting on the right wall.

Housed in various spaces that included three custom-built rooms on the ground floor of the Archives building at 330 Sussex Street, the permanent exhibits were regularly supplemented by special displays marking commemorative events, the intake of significant acquisitions, or the visit of important guests. Space was tight, but under the guidance of Doughty and curators Mr. Weber and A.E.H. Petrie, nearly every usable surface was considered an opportunity to showcase the collection—even hallways and Doughty’s own office.

Black-and-white photograph of a large room with display cabinets, a statue, flags, plants, framed images, chairs and a throne.

Minto Room, Public Archives of Canada, arranged for a reception for delegates attending the Imperial Conference – Ottawa, August 1932. (c000029) The sovereign’s throne [centre-right] was housed at the Archives Museum when not in use at the Senate of Canada.

Black-and-white photograph of a long narrow room. There are two hanging lights in the middle of the room, and posters are plastered on each wall.

War Posters Room, Public Archives Building, Sussex Street, c. 1944 (a066638). We still find thumbtack holes in some of the war posters in LAC’s collections. Conservation and exhibition practices have greatly evolved since the days of the War Posters Room!

As a result, the Archives Museum hosted countless groups of schoolchildren, scholars, history enthusiasts and visiting dignitaries. The popular attraction was even graced by Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1951. The royal couple enjoyed the experience so much that, as Archives officials proudly reported, “[by] the time the party had signed the visitor’s book and left for Government House, a much longer period had elapsed than had been arranged for in the official programme.”

Black-and-white photograph of four men and one woman looking at items in a glass display cabinet. One man is pointing at a document in the cabinet.

“Their Royal Highnesses the Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburg in the Public Archives, accompanied by the Hon. F. Gordon Bradley, Secretary of State (left).” Report of the Public Archives for the year 1951.

By the mid-1960s, the Museum’s popularity was growing by leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, as Mr. Petrie observed in 1960, this level of success did have its adverse effects: “One guard seems to be insufficient for the three rooms [as there have been] petty thefts and minor vandalism to collection items.” Security was struggling to keep up with growing crowds; perhaps these were the conditions in which the Wolfe statuette came to its unfortunate disappearance?

The unavoidable unsustainability

Ultimately, Doughty’s well-intentioned ambition could not keep going in this manner. After nearly 60 years of existence, the Museum had accumulated such a large three-dimensional collection that the Archives building was bursting at the seams. Space had become so tight that, in 1965, the exhibition spaces occupying the Sussex building had to be moved to temporary lodgings at the Daly Building, near the Château Laurier; so did the surplus artifacts that had until then been stored at the Loeb Building, on Besserer Street.

Black-and-white photograph of two buildings. On the left side of the image, there are blurry people and cars. In the foreground, power lines can be seen.

G.T.R. Hotel [Chateau Laurier] and Ria [Daly] Building. William James Topley, after 1911. (a009116) The federal government bought and began occupying the Daly Building, a commercial building, in 1921.

Appraisal of the Museum’s conundrum by both the Massey Commission of 1951 and the Glassco Commission of 1963 provided the necessary weight to the argument for downsizing. While the Archives had gone beyond their traditional role at a time when “no alternative was available,” it was obvious that being the national archives and a museum all at once was impossible and no longer necessary. The time had come to share the burden of responsibility with other existing institutions.

New building, reduced holdings

In 1967, the National Library and National Archives of Canada moved to new quarters, at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa. While this modern, custom-designed building did include exhibition spaces, the displays of days past would not be replicated there; rather, focus would be dedicated to the wealth of resources found in the library and archives holdings.

The years surrounding the move were therefore occupied with the redistribution of the Museum’s collection. Most of the three-dimensional artefacts were transferred to the upcoming Museum of Man (now known as the Canadian Museum of History), while war trophies and military artefacts remained behind at the Sussex location to continue on as part of Canada’s War Museum. Approximately 16,000 coins and other monetary items were sent to the Bank of Canada, and the Archives’ philatelic holdings were taken in by the Post Office Department. The Archives retained its holdings of some 6,000 military, commemorative and ecclesiastical medals and tokens; these, along with the extensive collection of paintings, remained part of the Public Archives holdings of documentary art and objects. Mr. Petrie stayed on as Curator of Museum and Numismatics, showing groups around exhibits and paintings on display and conducting tours of the new building’s impressive decorative and architectural features.

A continuing legacy

As Library and Archives Canada evolves into the 21st century, the spirit of Doughty’s ambition and the legacy of the Archives Museum live on through a distinctly Canadian approach to archives. Bred out of collecting and caring for over 100 years’ worth of government records, private papers and non-textual “sources of every kind,” this approach has generated the eclectic array of expertise that remains with LAC’s professionals to this day. Most importantly, it has ensured that a diverse trove of documentary heritage continues to intrigue, inform and impress Canadians and visitors alike, even though security and access conditions have become just a bit tighter since the days of the Wolfe statuette affair.


Geneviève Morin is a Senior Archivist for Documentary Art, Objects and Photography, Government Archives Division.

The beginning of airmail delivery

By Dalton Campbell

On December 25, 1927, a Fairchild aircraft flew along the north shore of the St. Lawrence from La Malbaie to Sept-Îles, Quebec. As the plane approached each town, the pilot lowered the altitude of the aircraft and threw out a packet of mail attached to a parachute. The postmaster retrieved the parachute and mail as the pilot flew to the next town.

This was the first official Post Office air mail delivery for the communities along the north shore of Quebec. In the winter, these communities—like many others throughout Canada—had been isolated with irregular mail delivery arriving after slow transport by boat or dogsled.

A black-and-white photograph of a group of men standing in front of a single-engine aircraft. The men are arranged in a semi-circle around many sacks of mail piled on the ground.

Reknowned pilot Roméo Vachon at the doors of the Fairchild FC-2W aircraft of Canadian Transcontinental Airways Ltd. inaugurating airmail service between Montreal and Rimouski, Quebec, May 5, 1928. The mail was transferred from transatlantic ships at Rimouski and flown to Montreal and then to Toronto, saving 24 hours in delivery. (MIKAN 3390347)

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