With our national game now a multi-billion-dollar professional sport, it is perhaps comforting to look back to simpler times when hockey was closer to community, and was played for love and glory by amateurs. In the early days of Stanley Cup competition, any Canadian team with some success at the senior level could challenge the current champs. In 1905 one of the strangest challenges came from Dawson City, Yukon.
Special Olympics is a global sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities. The impetus for the organization was research done by Canadian sports scientist Dr. Frank Hayden, who helped develop the first International Special Olympics Games in Chicago in 1968. The World Games are now held every two years and alternate between summer and winter events. The 2015 Summer Games were held in Los Angeles, California, and the 2017 Winter Games will be held in Austria. Canada began holding National Games in 1969, thanks to the efforts of broadcaster Harry “Red” Foster. Like the World Games, the National Games alternate between summer and winter events, with the 2014 Summer Games held in Vancouver, British Columbia, and the 2016 Winter Games held in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador. Special Olympics Canada has chapters in all provinces and territories, except Nunavut, and there are currently more than 40,000 children, youth and adults registered in Special Olympics programs across the country.
George Orton is known as Canada's first Olympic gold medal winner. On the official Olympic Games website, there are two records concerning George Orton at the 1900 Paris Olympics. The records show that he won a bronze medal in the 400 m men's hurdles and a gold medal in the 3000 m steeplechase.
During the 1920s Oppenheimer Park, also known as the Powell Street Grounds, was home to the best baseball team in the city. The Asahi drew its members from the surrounding Japanese-Canadian community. It all ended with the outbreak of World War Two.
The Brier is one of the most prestigious trophies in Canadian curling. A Dominion championship competition for men's curling was inaugurated in 1927, sponsored by the W.D. Macdonald Company for a trophy known as the Macdonald Brier Tankard. This annual event gave curling a significant impetus.
While the games always carried a sacred aspect, held on the open plains of Elis, surrounded by magnificent groves of gleaming, silver-grey olive trees, they also displayed that most Greek of contributions to our civilization: individualism.
Politicians lobbied to hold the race in their constituencies in the early years. It was raced in Ontario at Toronto, Guelph, St Catharines, Whitby, Kingston, Barrie, Woodstock, Picton, London, Hamilton and Ottawa before it settled permanently, with the Queen's approval, in Toronto in 1883.
The Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, visited in 1860 and offered £100 to the winner. Times improved in the late 19th century, and in 1901 a crew from Outer Cove set a record time, 9:13.75, that was not broken until 1981 (the crew has been elected to the CANADA SPORTS HALL OF FAME).
Rod Warren remembers vividly the first time he competed professionally at the Calgary Stampede. It was 1989 and Warren, a 21-year-old greenhorn from the northern Alberta community of Valleyview, found himself in the company of riders he had idolized while growing up.