The First Ottawa International Dog Derby

5 February 1930

If you ask most Canadians today to name the principal winter sports, hockey would undoubtedly top any list. Other contenders would include skiing (alpine or cross-country), ice-skating, snow-boarding, bobsledding, and snowmobiling. Curling too would likely make the cut. If people thought about the question a bit longer, dog sled racing might also be mentioned. Today, the most famous dog sled race is the 1,000-mile Alaskan Iditarod from Anchorage in the south to Nome on the western Bering Sea. The race, held annually, covers some of the toughest winter terrain. The race was started in 1973 in part as a means of saving the dog-sled culture and the Alaskan husky, threatened by the growing popularity of the snowmobile. Another prominent sled race is the Yukon Quest, a 1,000-mile journey, held annually since 1984, from Whitehorse, Yukon to Fairbanks, Alaska, tracing the route prospectors took during the great Klondike Gold Rush of 1898.

Despite the high profile of these two races, dog-sledding is pursued by relatively few outdoor winter enthusiasts. But ninety years ago, it was mainstream stuff, with both national and locally-sponsored races known as “dog derbies.” Major sled races of the day included the American Dog Derby of Ashton, Idaho, the Hudson Bay Dog Derby of Le Pas, Manitoba, and the Eastern International Dog Derby held at Quebec City. Just as today’s fans idolize star hockey players, the top sled drivers, such as Emile St. Godard of Le Pas, Manitoba and Finnish-American Leonhard Seppala of Nome, Alaska were household names. Seppala became world famous in 1925 when he and his team of dogs led by Togo, along with other “mushers,” brought much needed anti-diphtheria serum to Nome from Nenana, Alaska, a distance of 600 miles, by sled. Seppala, who drove the most dangerous section across the treacherous ice of Norton Sound in order to save a day’s travel time, handed the serum off to Norwegian Gunnar Kaasen and his team of dogs led by Balto for the final leg of the journey into Nome. Being the first dog to enter Nome, Balto received the public’s adulation; a fact that didn’t sit well with Seppala who thought his dog Togo was more deserving of honour. A bronze statue of Balto stands in New York’s Central Park, while his stuffed body is on display at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. In 1995, an animated Hollywood movie titled Balto, which was loosely based on the 1925 serum run, was produced by Amblin Entertainment and distributed by Universal Pictures.

In 1930, as part of the Ottawa’s Winter Carnival activities, the Ottawa Business Men’s Association organized the first Ottawa International Dog Derby. Under the leadership of Major F. D. Burpee, the Association raised $3,895 from area businesses and citizens to help fund the event. The Sparks Street department stores Murphy-Gamble and Bryson-Graham donated $100 and $50, respectively. The Ottawa Electric Railway and the Ottawa Electric Company each gave $50, while Thomas Ahearn, the great Ottawa inventor and entrepreneur personally donated $25. Additional funding to cover transportation, as well as room and board for the drivers and their dogs, was provided by the Canadian National Railways and the Château Laurier Hotel. The Château also purchased the gold Challenge Trophy for the Derby winner valued at $1,000.


The Challenge Trophy donated by the Château Laurier Hotel, The Ottawa Evening Journal, 7 February 1930

The 100-mile Derby was held over three days, with the third and last segment of the race taking place on 5 February 1930. The course for the Derby started at Connaught Place in front of the Château Laurier. It crossed the site of the old Russell Hotel, before heading down the Driveway, under the Bank Street Bridge, along Carling Avenue out to Britannia and Bell’s Corners, over to Fallowfield, down a side road to the Prescott Highway (Prince of Wales Drive), then homeward for the “final dash” along the Driveway to the finish line at Connaught Place. Weather conditions for the Derby were perfect—cold and snowy.

The event was open to any individual from Canada and the United States, with teams of no more than seven dogs. The dogs’ feet could be enclosed in protective boots or moccasins. Doping was prohibited. Teams were divided into three groups, with starting positions within each group determined by lot. The starting position of each group rotated so that the sled teams in the first group on Day One would start last on Day Two, and second on Day Three. There were five race judges, among whom were some eminent mushers, including Major Burwash who had gone out to the Yukon in the 1898 Gold Rush and had mushed 175,000 miles through the Arctic and sub-Arctic.

There was lots of pre-race hype. In late January, one of the Derby contestants, Jack “Yukon” Melville, an Algonquin Park camp owner, made a $500 bet with Mayor Plant and Joseph Van Wyck, the manager of the Château Laurier, that he could mush 400 miles from Rochester to Ottawa, and arrive in time for the start of the race. Melville attached long banners to the sides of his sled inviting everybody to Ottawa to advertise the Dog Derby and the Ottawa Winter Carnival. To facilitate Melville’s journey, Mayor Plant wired town mayors along his route. The Ottawa Automobile Club also wired ahead to ascertain snow conditions on the highways. While Melville completed the sled trip, he arrived back in Ottawa one day late, losing the bet and missing the start of the Ottawa Derby, owing to a lack of snow in upstate New York. The unfortunate Melville also broke two ribs setting out from Rochester. However, so delighted was the city, hotel and the Ottawa Business Men’s Association with the massive press coverage of Melville’s journey and the Ottawa Winter Carnival, his losses were covered. “Jack Melville is not going to lose out on his trip, wager or no wager,” the Château’s manager said according to The Ottawa Evening Journal.

With Melville out of the running, eight sled teams showed up on Day One of the Derby on Monday 3 February. However, judges scratched the entry of Mrs E. P. Ricker Jr of Poland Springs, Maine, the only female musher, owing to four of her dogs being injured in a fight. This left seven teams to contest the first Ottawa International Dog Derby. At noon, in front of a huge, frenzied crowd, estimated at up to 20,000 people, including Prime Minister Mackenzie King who attended with his dog Pat, the Governor General, the Viscount Willingdon, officially opened the Derby. First away was Harry Wheeler of Grey Rocks, Quebec and his team of five huskies. Next was the crowd favourite, Emile St. Godard of Le Pas, Manitoba and his team of seven greyhound/husky mixed breeds led by Toby. Third out was Leonhard Seppala and his seven huskies, followed by Georges Chevrette of Quebec City. Chevrette’s team of greyhound/husky mixed breeds dashed into the crowds on the word “Go,” forcing people to scatter. Undeterred, Chrevette continued the race after disentangling his team, aided by a helpful bystander. Next came Earl Brydges of Le Pas and his seven huskies, followed by Boston’s Walter Channing and his seven Russian wolfhound/husky mixed breeds. Last, was Frank Dupuis of Berthier, Quebec and his six-dog team, owned by the “Come-On Travellers’ Club” of Quebec. Dupuis, held up by Ottawa traffic, almost missed his start. A bellboy from the Château Laurier rushed out to the starting line with a telephone message to the officials saying that Dupuis was on his way. Arriving a few minutes later, Dupuis, unperturbed by a time penalty, gave a jaunty wave to the crowd, and set out puffing on a big cigar. St. Godard easily won the first leg of the Derby in a time of 2 hours and 37 minutes, many minutes ahead of his nearest opponent.

Day Two was also easily won by St. Godard who set the pace in front of another huge crowd that lined the route. But the second day of the competition was not without its excitement. Frank Dupuis’ dogs got spooked by a heaving throng of people who had pushed their way onto the Driveway track despite police barricades. With no place to go, he and his sled were forced over a snow bank into the railing of the Rideau Canal. As it wasn’t his fault, Derby judges allowed him to restart the race without penalty.


Emile St. Godard led by Toby, The Ottawa International Dog Derby, 1930, Department of the Interior, Library and Archives Canada, PA-043702.

The third and final day of the competition also had its share of thrills. Prior to the start of the last lap, judges disqualified Frank Dupuis “for cause,” reducing the field to just six teams. The rumour was that he had mistreated his dogs. Then St. Godard, who had run flawless legs the previous two days, got into early difficulties when his dogs ran into the crowd and tangled their leashes. Although he lost more than a minute of time re-organizing his sled team, St. Godard continued to have commanding cumulative time advantage over his nearest rivals, leaving Seppala and Brydges to fight it out for second place.

As the clock on the old Post Office read 3.04 pm, a loud roar went up from the huge crowd of spectators, many of whom were school children whose principals had given them time off to watch the race. “Here comes St. Godard under the bridge” was the cry as the “The Saint” mushed his way down the Driveway under the Laurier Street Bridge. Onlookers crowded the windows and even the roof tops of the Post Office, the Château Laurier and Union Station. When the leaders swept down the Driveway past the court house, the presiding magistrate allowed people to rush to the eastern windows for a view of the passing sledders. Emile St. Godard won the first Ottawa International Derby in a total time of 8 hours, 13 minute and 23 seconds. Second place went to fellow Manitoban Earl Brydges with a time of 8 hours 33 minutes and 45 seconds. In third place, close behind, was Leonhard Seppala with a time of 8 hours 34 minutes and 13 seconds.

The following evening at the Carnival Ball, hosted by the Ottawa Business Men’s Association, St. Godard strode into the Château Laurier’s ballroom wearing breeches and moccasins with Toby by his side to be presented the gold Challenge Trophy by the Governor General. To honour Toby, the Trophy was filled with milk. Lord Willingdon also gave St. Godard a cheque for $1,000, the purse for first place. (An anonymous sportsman gave St. Godard an additional $300.)  Earl Brydges, the runner-up, received $400, while third-place Leonhard Seppala received $100.

With the Derby judged a huge success, organizers of the Ottawa Carnival hoped that it would become an annual event. While the second Ottawa International Dog Derby, which was also won by St. Godard, was held in 1931, it was to be the last for almost twenty years, a victim of the Depression. In its place a “Junior Dog Derby” for youngsters was organized at Lansdowne Park until it too succumbed.  In February 1949, senior dog-sled racing resumed in the nation’s capital under the auspices of the Junior Board of Trade’s first Winter Carnival. Once again, the Château Laurier’s Gold Challenge Cup was presented to the winner. Annual races were held through the 1950s.

Over a sledding career that spanned ten years form 1925 to 1934, Emile St. Godard, the winner of the first Ottawa International Dog Derby, won more than twenty major races, including the 1932 Winter Olympics held at Lake Placid, New York,  A demonstration sport at that year’s Olympics, St. Godard took the gold medal beating his arch-rival Leonhard Seppala who had to settle for silver. Fellow Canadian Shorty Russick took bronze.

Toby, St. Godard’s lead dog, died from peritonitis in 1934 at the age of nine. Indicative of his fame, many newspapers, including The Ottawa Evening Journal, ran obituaries for the half husky, half greyhound sled dog. Devastated by the death of his devoted friend, to whom he credited his victories, St. Godard retired. He died in 1948 at the age of 43. He was inducted posthumously into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1956, the only sled dog racer so honoured. In 2007, he was also inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.

Dog sledding has seen a modest revival in recent years, helped by the success of the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest races. In eastern Ontario and west Quebec, there are a number of dog sled operators, including Escapade Eskimo, Timberland Tours, and Mush Larose, who offer the chance to feel the thrill of racing across snow-covered fields behind a team of powerful, sled dogs.


Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, Emile St. Godard,

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————————————, 1930. “Course Is Decided For Big Dog Derby,” 21 January.

————————————, 1930. “Dogs To Mush 400 Miles Before February 2 To Win $500 Wager,” 27 January.

————————————, 1930. “Woman’s Entry Leave Field To Seven Men,” 3 February.

————————————, 1930. “Rules For Dog Sled Derby,” 3 February.

————————————, 1930. “Melville Suffers Two Smashed Ribs On Rochester Trip,” 4 February.

————————————, 1930. “Another Huge Crowd To See Dog Teams Go,” 4 February.

————————————, 1930. “These Dog Derby Judges Men With A Keen Sense For Adventurous Life,” 5 February.

————————————, 1930. “St. Godard’s Team Runs Into Crowd At Starting Post,” 5 February.

————————————, 1930. “St. Godard Wins Dog Derby; Brydges Comes Second,” 5 February.

————————————, 1930. “Godard Sets Up World Record 100-Mile Course.” 6 February.

————————————, 1930. “Toby Attends Ball As St. Godard Gets Beautiful Trophy,” 7 February.

————————————, 1930. “Total Dog Derby Donations $3,895, 25 February.

————————————, 1931. “Goes To Dogs With Great Vigor,” 6 February.

————————————, 1931. “Junior Dog Derby To Be Big Feature Of Carnival Week,” 29 December.

————————————, 1934. “Toby, Famous Lead Dog, Dead,” 31 July.

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Lord Stanley’S Cup

18 March 1892

Each spring as winter’s snows begin to recede, the thoughts of Canadians turn to the Stanley Cup. One of the oldest sporting trophies in the world, the Cup is the symbol of hockey supremacy in North America. Its provenance is well known; it was purchased and given to the hockey community by Lord Stanley of Preston, Canada’s Governor General, in 1892. What is less well known is that Ottawa featured prominently in the Cup’s story. It was in Ottawa that Stanley let it be known his intention to provide a championship trophy. As well, during his vice-regal tenure in the nation’s capital, the Governor General, an avid hockey fan, and his equally hockey-mad children, did much to make hockey Canada’s national game. The Ottawa Hockey Club also played in the first Stanley Cup championship game.

The sport of ice hockey has a long history. It probably originated in “ball and stick” games played by both Europeans and natives peoples in North America. Shinny, an early form of ice hockey, was played on rivers or ponds in Nova Scotia during the early nineteenth century. Shinny could involve scores of players on each team, using a wooden puck, one-piece hockey sticks and hockey skates. Modern ice hockey dates from early 1875 when Halifax native James Creighton organized an indoor game at the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal. Given the constrained skating surface, teams were limited to nine per side (reduced to seven in 1880). Played with a flat wooden disk using hockey sticks made by Mi’kmaq carvers from Nova Scotia, the game used “Halifax Rules” that included a prohibition on the puck leaving the ice and no shift changes. The match was an overwhelming success for both its participants and its appreciative audience.

In response to growing interest in the sport in central Canada, the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada (AHAC) was formed in 1886 with five teams, four from Montreal (the Victorias, the Crystals, the Montreal Hockey Club, and McGill College) and one from Ottawa, the Ottawa Hockey Club, known as the Ottawas.  The Ottawas were established in 1883 and were a frequent participant in hockey games held during the Montreal Winter Carnival during the 1880s.

Lord Stanley Topley Studio, Library and Archives Canada, PA-027166

Lord Stanley of Preston, 1889, Topley Studio/Library and Archives Canada, PA/027166.

Lord Stanley of Preston arrived in Canada in 1888 to take up his position as the Dominion’s sixth Governor General. An avid sportsman, he was introduced to the game of ice hockey in February 1889 when he and members of his family, including his eldest son Edward and daughter Isobel, visited the Montreal Winter Carnival. Arriving while a hockey game was in progress—play was temporarily halted on his arrival—the Governor General, his family and friends watched the Montreal Victorias defeat the Montreal Hockey Club.

Lord Stanley was instantly hooked on the game. He quickly built an outdoor rink at Rideau Hall, his Ottawa residence, for the use of his family and staff. He took to the ice himself, though he apparently got into some trouble for skating on the Sabbath. In March 1889, his Rideau Hall rink was the site of what is believed to be the first woman’s hockey match between a Government House team on which Isobel Stanley played, and a Rideau ladies team. Her brothers, Edward, Arthur, Victor and Algernon, were also keen hockey players. They played with various official aides, MPs and senators on a team dubbed the “Rideau Rebels,” but more formally known as the Vice-Regal and Parliamentary Hockey Club. The Rebels played exhibition games throughout eastern Ontario including Kingston and Toronto that helped to popularize the game. The fact that Lord Stanley had placed his vice-regal stamp of approval on the game was another important factor in hockey’s rapid acceptance as Canada’s national winter sport.

In 1890, Lord Stanley’s son, Arthur, along with two team mates from the Rideau Rebels, helped create the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA), composed of thirteen teams from Toronto, Kingston and Ottawa, later joined by a team from Lindsay. Today, the OHA oversees junior hockey in Ontario. During the late nineteenth century, long before there was a National Hockey League and professional players, OHA teams represented the cream of Ontario hockey. The Ottawa Hockey Club team played in both the OHA and the AHAC centred in Montreal.

The Stanley Cup dates from 18 March 1892. That night, a celebratory dinner for members of the Ottawa Hockey Club was held at the Russell House Hotel. The Russell House was Ottawa’s top watering hole at the time, standing at the north-eastern corner of Sparks and Elgin Streets, roughly between today’s National War Memorial and the National Arts Centre. The Ottawas had just finished a championship year, winning the Cosby Cup of the OHA and holding the AHAC championship from January to early March before losing it to the Montreal Hockey Club. The Ottawa Evening Journal noted that the back of the dinner’s menu cards recorded the achievements of the team: nine championship matches won to only a single defeat, during which the team scored 53 goals “against the best teams in Canada,” allowing only 19 goals the other way.

Accounts differ on the number of people at the dinner. The Journal reported that there were between 70 and 80 present, while the Montreal Gazette said that about 200 admirers attended. The latter, larger number probably reflected the addition of the ladies who joined the men after the dinner for “ices.” Mr J.W. McRae, president of the Ottawa Amateur Athletic Association, the senior umbrella sporting association to which the Ottawa Hockey Club was affiliated, presided over the soirée, while the band of Governor General’s Foot Guards provided suitable musical entertainment.

At about 10pm, after the loyal toast to Queen Victoria, followed by another toast to the health of the Governor General, Lord Kilcoursie, an aide to Lord Stanley, rose to reply on behalf of the Governor General who had been unable to attend the evening’s event. After thanking the gathering, Kilcoursie read out a letter from Stanley. Dated 18 March 1892, it said:

I have for some time past been thinking that it would be a good thing if there were a challenge cup which should be held from year to year by the champion hockey team in the Dominion. There does not appear to be any such outward and visible sign of a championship at present, and considering the general interest which matches now elicit, and in the importance of having the game played fairly and under rules generally recognized, I am willing to give a cup, which shall be held from year to year by the winning team.

I am not quite certain that the present regulations governing the arrangement of matches give entire satisfaction, and it would be worth considering whether they could not be arranged so that each team would play once at home and once at the place where their opponents hail.

The letter was enthusiastically received by the partisan hockey crowd.

Kilcoursie also revealed that the Governor General had commissioned his former military secretary, Captain Charles Colville of the Grenadier Guards, who had recently returned to Britain, to purchase an appropriate trophy on Stanley’s behalf.

After a series of more toasts, including one to the Ottawa Hockey team as well as others to members of the league, the Press and the Ladies, the dinner broke up at about midnight, though not before many songs were sung. In particular, Lord Kilcoursie entertained the party goers by singing a “ditty” titled The Hockey Men that he had personally composed to honour the members of the Ottawa Hockey Club. The first two verses went:

There is a game called hockey
There is no finer game
For though some call it ‘knockey’
Yet we love it all the same.

This played in His Dominion
Well played both near and far
There’s only one opinion
How ’tis played in Ottawa.

At the end, the crowd gave “a rousing chorus, rendered in stentorian style” according to the Journal, repeating the third verse of the eighteen-verse poem:

Then give three cheers for Russell
The captain of the boys.
However tough the tussle
His position he enjoys.

And then for all the others
Let’s shout as loud we may

Over in England, Captain Colville purchased Stanley’s Cup from the London silversmiths G.R. Collis of Regent Street for the sum of 10 guineas (ten pounds, ten shillings). As one pound was worth $4.8666 in Canadian money, this was the equivalent to $51.10, a considerable sum in 1892.  On one side of the silver bowl with a gilt interior was engraved “Dominion Hockey Challenge Trophy,” while the inscription “From Stanley of Preston” with his family coat of arms was on the other. The Cup arrived in Ottawa the end of April 1893 and was entrusted to two trustees, Sheriff John Sweetland and Philip D. Ross.

Stanley Cup Library and Archives Canada

The original Stanley Cup. The silver bowl stands 19 centimetres (7 1/2 inches) high, and has a diameter of 28.5 centimetres (11 1/4 inches), and a circumference of 89 centimetres (35 inches), Library and Archives Canada.

The trustees announced that the Cup would henceforth be called the “Stanley Cup” in honour of its donor and, as specified by Lord Stanley, it would be a “challenge” cup. In other words, the Cup would be open for all. Any team could challenge the holder of the Cup for the championship title though the two trustees had the final say on whether a challenge would be accepted. Other conditions included the requirements that a winning team keep the trophy “in good order,” that each winning team (except for the first winner) would engrave its name on a silver ring fixed to the trophy at its own cost, that the Cup was not the property of any one team, and that in case of doubt over who was rightly the champion team in the Dominion, the trustees’ decision was final.

Unfortunately, the presentation of the first Stanley Cup in May 1893 was mired in controversy. The Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (MAAA) was awarded the trophy by virtue of the 7-1 victory of its affiliated hockey team, the Montreal Hockey Club, over the Ottawa Hockey Club, the OHA champions. The trustees duly engraved Montreal AAA on the Cup, and arranged for Sheriff Sweetland to present the trophy at the Association’s Annual General Meeting. The president of the Montreal Hockey Club, James Stewart, who was also a player on the team, was asked to attend the Annual General Meeting to receive the Cup. However, Stewart refused to accept the trophy until the terms and conditions related to holding the Cup were clarified. Enraged by this decision, and not willing to embarrass the Governor General’s emissary, Stewart accepted the Cup from Sweetland on behalf of the MAAA.

The spat between the MAAA and the Montreal Hockey Club went on for some months. After a number of letters between the two organizations and between Sweetland and Ross, a reconciliation was achieved, and the Stanley Cup was finally transferred to the Montreal Hockey Club in time for the 1894 championship game.  Held in late March of that year with the Ottawa Hockey Club, their long-time rivals, the match attracted some five thousand cheering fans to the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal.  After Ottawa took a one-goal lead, the Montreal team stormed back with three unanswered goals to win the game 3-1 and the Cup. Later, the neutral words “Montreal 1894” were engraved on the Cup to avoid any hard feelings between the parent Montreal Association and its related Montreal Hockey Club.

Sadly, Lord Stanley, the man behind the Cup, was not there to witness the first challenge match for his trophy. He had returned home the previous summer to take up the duties as the 16th Earl of Derby following the death of his elder brother.



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————————————, 1893. “The Stanley Cup.” 1 May.

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Lord Stanley of Preston, 1889. Topley Studio/Library and Archives Canada, PA-027166.

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Dawson City Challenge

16 January 1905

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the rules of ice hockey were considerably different than they are today. For one thing, a team had seven players on the ice instead of the modern six. The extra player was known as the “rover.” The game itself was divided into two, thirty-minute halves, instead of three, twenty-minute periods. Forward passes were illegal. Similar to rugby, the puck-handler who found his progress blocked was forbidden to pass the puck forward to an open team mate. Pity the poor goalie too.  He was virtually indistinguishable from other players, wearing little or no padding. At best, his shins were protected by cricket pads. The other team members didn’t have it easy though; line changes were a thing of the future.

Who could compete for the Stanley Cup was also very different. Instead of the Eastern and Western Conference champions of the National Hockey League playing in a best-of-seven series, the Cup was a “challenge” cup for amateur play. A hockey club, usually the winner of some league play, challenged the Cup holder for the trophy, typically in a best of three game series, or a two-game, total goals series. The winning team also got to take home the Cup, and only relinquished the trophy upon its defeat by a challenger.

In the fall of 1904, the reigning Stanley Cup champions, Ottawa’s Silver Seven, the forerunners of the Ottawa Senators, were challenged by an upstart team from Dawson City, Yukon called the Dawson City Nuggets, or sometimes the Dawson City Klondikers. The Cup challenge was organized by Colonel Joe Boyle, Dawson City’s number one citizen. Boyle, a larger-than-life character, had made a fortune in the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898 through mining concessions and other businesses. His nickname was “King of the Klondike.”

By 1904, however, Dawson City was in decline, the gold largely played out. Its population, which had topped 40,000 at the peak of the gold rush in 1898, had fallen to less than 5,000, though there were more settlers in the surrounding hinterland. Boyle, a one-time boxing promoter with a passion for hockey, put together a four-team league consisting of miners, prospectors, police and civil servants. The small league played at a newly-built, indoor rink that amazingly boasted an attached clubhouse, dressing rooms, showers, lounges and a dining room. The Dawson City Nuggets, an “all-star” team, were drawn from this ragtag bunch. Confident of their abilities, however, somebody came up with the idea, reputedly at a “knees up” in a local saloon, of challenging the Ottawa Hockey Club’s Silver Seven for the Stanley Cup.

This wasn’t as wacky an idea as it sounds. A number of good hockey players had come to the Klondike to seek their fortunes. As one press report of the time noted, the men “continued to play hockey when they were not ‘plucking gold nuggets.’” Coincidently, many of the players were from the Ottawa area. The team’s captain, Weldy Young, was a legitimate star who had played for the Ottawa Hockey Club during the 1890s. The team’s rover, Dr Randy McLennan, also had considerable hockey experience, having played for Queen’s University in Kingston when it challenged the Montreal AAA team in a losing cause for the Stanley Cup in 1895. However, the Ottawa team was a formidable opponent. It had defeated the Montreal Wanderers for the Stanley Cup in March 1903, and had successfully defended it against five challengers over the following year.

Dawson City Nuggets outside Dey Arena, 1905, Yukon Archives 88.25.1

The Dawson City Nuggets in front of Dey’s Rink, Ottawa, 1905. In rear, left to right: Hector Smith, George Kennedy, Lorne Hannay, James Johnston, and Norman Watt. In front, left to right: Albert Forrest, Joseph Boyle, and Dr Randy McLellan, Yukon Archives, 88.25.1.


For reasons that are unclear, the Ottawa Club accepted the cheeky challenge from the northerners to a best of three series to be held in January 1905 in Ottawa. Col. Boyle bankrolled the Nuggets, covering their travel and other expenses of $6,000, equivalent to about $125,000 in today’s money. With the team’s likely share of the box office from the Stanley Cup games expected to be only $2,000, he also organized a series of post-Cup exhibition games in eastern Canada and the United States to help re-coup his expenses. The Dawson City Nuggets became an instant media sensation throughout North America. The Montreal Gazette called their trek out east “the most gigantic trip every undertaken by a hockey team.” Ottawa’s Evening Journal said it was “the pluckiest challenge in the history of the Stanley Cup.”

Most of the team set out from Dawson City on 19 December 1904. They were originally supposed to leave several days earlier, but their departure was delayed by a federal election in the Yukon. As it was, the team left without Weldy Young. Employed by the government, he had to work over the election period and couldn’t get the time off. He later caught up with the rest of the players, too late, however, to play in the Stanley Cup series in Ottawa. The team’s number two player, Lionel Bennett, was also a no-show. He didn’t want to leave his wife’s bedside who had been injured in a sleigh accident.

Undeterred, the team set out on the 4,300 mile (6,900 kilometre) trek to Ottawa. The first leg of their voyage was to Whitehorse, a 330-mile slog through the wilderness, on bicycle, foot, and by sled. Despite the cold and overcoming frostbite, the men made good time. They covered 46 miles on their first day alone. But it took them nine days to get to Whitehorse, sheltering at night in cabins owned by the North West Mounted Police. From Whitehorse, they caught a train to Skagway, Alaska. Delayed two days by snow storms in the White Pass, the team missed their boat and had to wait an additional three days before catching a steamer to Seattle. They then backpacked to Vancouver. At Vancouver, they boarded the transcontinental Canadian Pacific train for Ottawa. Before leaving, Boyle sent a telegram to the Ottawa Hockey Club asking for the series to be postponed to allow the Nuggets to recover from their odyssey; the request was denied.

The Nuggets arrived in Ottawa on 11 January 1905, two days before their opening game at Dey’s Rink located at Gladstone and Bay Streets. The team was warmly greeted in Ottawa. The Ottawa Journal called the Dawson players “hardy Norsemen,” and opined that the “Yukon team was a sturdy lot” and would “bear themselves bravely.” The team took some light practice at the arena before the series began, as well as visited the Ottawa Amateur Athletic Club to watch boxing matches and an endurance contest.

The first game of the series was held on 13 January at 8.30pm. In goal for Dawson City was 17-year old Albert Forrest, originally from Trois Rivières, Quebec. Replacing the absent Weldy Young as team captain was Dr Randy McLennan (rover). The other players included Jim Johnstone (point), Lorne Hannay (cover point), Hector Smith (centre), George Kennedy (right wing) and Norman Watt (left wing). Joe Boyle acted as the team’s manager.  At the other end of the ice, Dave Finnie was in goal for Ottawa. The other Silver Seven players included Arthur “Bones” Allan (point), Art Moore (cover point), Harry “Rat” Westwick (rover), Frank McGee (centre), Alf Smith (right wing) and Fred White (left wing). Bob Shillington was the team’s general manager.

The game was played to a capacity crowd of roughly 2,500 spectators. The Governor General, Lord Grey, dropped the puck to start play. Through the first half, the Nuggets, dressed in black sweaters with gold trim, were competitive, holding the Silver Seven, wearing their red, black and white jerseys, to only three goals to their one. But the Nuggets began to flag in the second half, the effects of their trip becoming apparent. Penalties didn’t help either. A punch-up in the first half sent Norman Watt of the Nuggets and Ottawa’s Alf Smith off for ten minutes each for fighting. Tempers deteriorated further during the second half. When Art Moore, Ottawa’s cover point, tripped Watt, Watt retaliated. After he picked himself off the ice, Watt skated over to Moore and smashed him over his head with his stick, knocking him out cold for ten minutes. Two quick Ottawa goals followed. The final score was a lopsided 9-2 decision in Ottawa’s favour; Alf Smith tallied for four goals, Rat Westwick and Fred White each got two, while Frank McGee scored once. For Dawson City, Randy McLennan and George Kennedy retaliated.

Notwithstanding Watt’s brutal assault on Moore and the other fights, the Ottawa Evening Journal admired the sportsmanship displayed by both teams. In the newspaper’s description of the game, the reporter commented: “It was rather a novelty to the Ottawa public to see such a wholesome, even-tempered exhibition and it went down very well with the audience. More power to you boys!” One wonders what rough games were like during that era.

The second game of the series took place two days later on 16 January 1905. Both teams made modest changes to their line-ups. For the Nuggets, Dave Fairburn replaced Randy McLennan as rover. Harvey Pulford, the Silver Seven captain took over on point from “Bones” Allan. The national press didn’t rate the Nuggets chances very highly. The St John Daily Sun commented that the Stanley Cup would likely stay east. The newspaper commented that although the Klondikers had demonstrated they could handle the puck during the first game, the team had been “outskated, out-generalled, out-pointed in very department” by the Ottawa club. Still, the Dawson City newspaper, Yukon World, remained optimistic saying that the Klondike team had “a good chance.” The paper was wrong. Ottawa destroyed the Nuggets in the most lop-sided victory in the history of the Stanley Cup, defeating the northerners 23-2 in front of another capacity crowd at Dey’s Rink. Reports were pretty unanimous that Ottawa would have run the score up even higher if it hadn’t been for the strong goal-tending of young Albert Forrest.

Frank McGee, Ottawa’s centre, scored fourteen times, another record that still stands today. Eight of those goals were scored consecutively in less than nine minutes in the second half. McGee, an Ottawa native, was the nephew of D’Arcy McGee, the father of Confederation who was assassinated in 1868. McGee was a well-rounded athlete who had played football for the Ottawa Rough Riders during the 1890s. He had only one eye; he lost the other one in 1900 to a high stick. With a full time job as a public servant, he retired from hockey in 1906 at the tender age of 23 years. Despite his handicap, he enlisted during World War I after cheating on his vision test. He died in 1916 at the Battle of the Somme.

The evening after the blow-out, second game, the Ottawa Hockey Club hosted a party for the visiting Nuggets at the Ottawa Amateur Athletic Club, with George Murphy, president of the Ottawa Club acting as toastmaster. It must have been quite an event. The Stanley Cup, filled with champagne, was passed around the table repeatedly. Later, somebody drop-kicked the trophy onto the frozen Rideau Canal.

The team from the Klondike left Ottawa for their tour of eastern Canada and the United States. With the return of Weldy Young to the team, the Nuggets had a modicum of success, though not enough to mitigate their overwhelming defeat in Ottawa. The team then disappeared from history, though not before getting its name engraved on the Stanley Cup for all time.

In 1997 a Dawson City team took on an Ottawa Senators Alumni team in a re-enactment of the 1905 game at the Corel Centre (now the Canadian Tire Centre) in Ottawa. Retracing the steps of their predecessors, the Dawson team travelled by dog sled and snowmobile from Dawson City, to Whitehorse, to Skagway and then by ferry to Seattle, before heading to Vancouver, and finally Ottawa. Before a crowd of 6,000 the visitors were once again thumped, this time 18-0. The proceeds of the charity event, split between the two teams, went to the Ottawa Heart Institute, the Yukon Special Olympics, and Yukon Minor Hockey.


Story suggested by André Laflamme, Ottawa Free Tours,

Gaffin Jane, 2006. Joe Boyle: The SuperHero of the Klondike Gold Rush,–%20SuperHero%20of%20the%20Klondike%20Goldfields.htm.

Gates, Michael, 2010. “The game that almost brought the Stanley Cup to Dawson,” Yukon News, 22 January.

Globe, (The), 1904. “Coming of the Gold-Diggers,” 29 November.

—————-, 1905. “Ottawa Outclassed Dawson.” 17 January.

Levett, Bruce. 1989. “2-game Series took month’s trek.” Ottawa Citizen, 27 August.

McKinley, Michael, 2000. Putting A Roof On Winter, Greystone Books: Vancouver, Toronto, New York.

Montreal Gazette (The), 1904 “The Stanley Cup Dates,” 23 November.

—————————-, 1905. “Story of the Stanley Cup,” 18 January.

Ottawa Evening Journal (The), 1905. “Overcame All Hardships,” 13 January.

————————————, 1905. “Ottawas Victorious In the First Stanley Cup Match,” 14 January.

———————————–, 1905. “The Stanley Cup Will Not Be Going To The Klondike,” 17 January.

———————————-, 1905. “J.P. Dickson Threw Down Gauntlet To The C.A.A.U. 18 January.

Pelletier, Joe, 2014. “Great Moments in Hockey History: Stanley Cup Challenge from the Yukon,” Greatest Hockey,  9 May,

Pittsburgh Press (The), 1905. “Hockey Flashes,” 13 January.

Rodgers, Andrew, 2011. “Dawson City Nuggets and the Ottawa Senators Alumni: Interview with Award-Winning Author Don Reddick,” TVOS, 16 March,

St John Daily Sun, 1905. “Stanley Cup Will Probably Stay East,” 14 January.

Yukon World, 1904. “Dawson’s Champions And The Cup,” 18 December.

—————-, 1905. “Klondike Hockey Team Creates Great Interest In Ottawa,” 13 January.

—————, 1905. “Klondike Hockey Team Defeated In Extremely Rough Game In the Presence Of Thousands Of People,” 14 January.

—————, 1905. “Klondike Team Has Good Chance In The Game Monday Night,” 15 January.

————–, 1905, “Klondike Hockey Meet An Overwhelming Defeat At The Capital,” 17 January.


Canada’s Sweetheart

9 March 1948

The Fifth Olympic Winter Games began in late January 1948 in the small, Swiss alpine village of St Moritz. It was the first Olympic Games since World War II. The first post-war Summer Olympic Games were to be held later that year in London. The previous Winter Games had been held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Nazi Germany in 1936. St Moritz was selected to host the 1948 Games partly because it was located in neutral Switzerland, and partly because it already had the sports infrastructure in place, having hosted the 1928 Winter Games; economy was an important consideration during the immediate post-war years. Twenty-eight countries participated in twenty-two events. Germany and Japan were not invited, while the Soviet Union participated only as an observer. All events took place outdoors. The centre of attention was Canada’s Barbara Ann Scott. Three weeks earlier, the nineteen-year-old native of Sandy Hill, had successfully defended her European Figure Skating crown in Prague, Czechoslovakia. There, Scott had been lionized, with thousands clamoring for her photograph and autograph. Prague newspapers vied daily for the best pictures of the talented and charming, blond beauty.

The media buzz continued in St Moritz. Time Magazine featured Scott on its cover for the first week of February 1948 with a lengthy write-up on her and her prospects at the Olympics. The Canadian Press dubbed the St Moritz Olympics the “Barbara Ann Scott Olympics.” On the afternoon of 6 February, Scott did what everybody had been expecting, easily winning the gold medal with 163.077 points over her rival Eva Pawlik of Austria (157.588 points) who had also been runner-up to Scott in the European championships. In third position was Jeanette Attwegg of the United Kingdom (156.166 points).  Scott beat her opponents in both the compulsory figures and the free skating components of the competition. Her superb free-skating performance, despite poor ice conditions owing to warm weather and an earlier hockey game, brought the crowd to their feet. (Rare colour film footage of Scott’s performance is available on YouTube; see sources.)

Barbara Ann Scott

Barbara Ann Scott being greeted by Mayor Stanley Lewis and Prime Minister Mackenzie on her arrival home, Union Station, Ottawa, 9 March 1948, City of Ottawa Archives, CA024868/Newton.

That evening, the headline in The Evening Citizen said it all: “Our Barbara Wins It!” Ottawa went wild with excitement. Plans were set in motion for a huge celebration on her arrival home. Congratulatory messages poured in to Scott from across the country. Prime Minister Mackenzie King’s message read: “From one end of Canada to the other there is great rejoicing at your victory and of the high honour you have brought to yourself and your country. The government joins with the people in extending warm congratulations to you. All are delighted beyond words.” Ottawa’s Mayor Stanley Lewis’ message said: “Ottawa is a city in of rejoicing and triumph. All feel great pride in your victory and honour you for your sportsmanship, your hard work, your genius.”

Ten days later, Scott did it again, winning the World Women’s Figure Skating crown in Davos, Switzerland for the second successive year. Once again, she beat out Eva Pawlik to first place on the podium. It was the first and only time that a Canadian skater had simultaneously held the European, Olympic and World skating titles.

Success did not come overnight for the young Canadian skater. Practising at the Minto Skating Club, Scott quit school at a young age, and was tutored privately so that she could train for seven to eight hours each day. She first came to national prominence when she was the silver medalist in the 1941 and 1942 Senior Canadian Figure Skating championships.  In 1944, at the tender age of fifteen, she won gold, the first of four national championships. The following year, she captured the North American title, and again in 1947. Also in 1947, she placed first at both the European and World Figure Skating Championships. Many compared her to the great Sonja Henie of Norway who was the undisputed queen of ladies’ figure skating prior to the war.

Scott’s chance to add an Olympic title to her string of victories was almost dashed on her return home from the 1947 World Championship when she accepted a canary-yellow Buick convertible with the licence plate 47U1 from the City of Ottawa. Although the Canadian Ice Skating Association had approved the gift, telling Scott that it would not compromise here amateur status, and hence her chance to compete at the following year’s Olympic Games, the U.S. Olympic President, Avery Brundage, complained to the Olympics’ international body that she was in breach of Rule 3 of the Olympic Code—“Participants who have received money, presents or advantage of material character shall not be admitted to the Olympic Games.” He also claimed that Scott had accepted jewellery, and was considering a Hollywood contract. Scott denied these latter charges, and, reluctantly, gave back the car, saying that “It would be selfish of me to keep the car and lose the chance to bring honour to Canada.” The suspicion was that Brundage was trying to improve the chances at the St Moritz Olympics of U.S. skater Gretchen Merrill who had placed third at the 1947 World Championship.

Scott arrived home from her Olympic, World and European victories on 9 March 1948 to a hero’s welcome. As her train stopped in small towns along the line from Montreal, she was applauded by enthusiastic crowds. At Lachute, thousands waited at the station for her train’s seven-minute station stop, and sang “For She’s A Jolly Good Fellow.” Finally, at 12.40pm, Scott’s train pulled in the capital. The Ottawa Journal reported that she “had changed means of transport to ride a tidal wave of acclaim.” Union Station in downtown Ottawa was packed with adoring fans, with thousands waiting several deep outside on the city sidewalks. It was reported that 70,000 people jammed Confederation Square close to the station, even more than on V-E Day in May 1945. School children were given a half day holiday to greet their idol, while government bosses looked the other way as civil servants deserted their offices.

When Scott got off of the train, the cheering crowds began singing “Let me call you Sweetheart.” Prime Minister King and Mayor Lewis greeted the skating queen with kisses and a big bouquet of roses, with Scott hugging and kissing them both in return. Dressed in a black velveteen outfit and a beaver coat, Scott made her way with difficulty through the crush of fans to an open, black limousine covered in daffodils for a tickertape parade through the flag-draped, city streets, accompanied by sixteen RCMP motorcycle escorts. The bands of Governor General’s Foot Guards, the RCAF, and the Ottawa Technical School played the tunes to which Scot had skated to victory at St Moritz and Davos. Banners strung across the city streets read “Canada Greets You—Bienvenue” and “Welcome Home, Barbara Ann–Champion of Champions.” At a city reception that followed, Mayor Lewis told Scott that “Today, Ottawa is yours.” For her part, Barbara Ann Scott thanked everyone saying” I’ve been in many wonderful cities of Europe this winter but the greatest thrill of all was to come back to Ottawa and hear the band play O Canada at the station.” She thanked her mother, her trainer, Sheldon Galbraith, and gave a special word of appreciation to the Minto Skating Club.

Barbara Ann Scott greets fans

Barbara Ann Scott waves to her fans outside Union Station, Ottawa, 9 March 1948, City of Ottawa Archives, CA024867/Newton.

The City of Ottawa later presented Scott with another new car with the licence plate 48U1. This time, as she had retired from the amateur ranks, she gratefully accepted it. In December 1948, she embarked on a professional career, debuting at the Roxy Theater in New York City. In 1951, she joined Arthur M. Wirtz’s “Hollywood Ice Review,” replacing Sonja Henie. The big Christmas gift in 1950 for little girls was the “Barbara Ann Scott” doll which sold in major department stores for $5.95 (equivalent to more than $60 in today’s money). Sixteen inches tall, the blond doll, which wore tiny silver ice skates, and had movable arms, leg, and head, was dressed in white velvet trimmed with fur. In April 1955, Scott appeared with her dog Pierre as the mystery guest on the famous CBS television programme What’s My Line.

Scott’s professional career ended in 1955 when she married Tom V. King, an ex-Marine and ex-professional basket-ball player, who was a publicist for the Chicago Stadium Sports Enterprises and Wirtz’s ice show. The couple settled in Chicago where Scott adopted the traditional 1950s lifestyle. One newspaper reported that “Barbara Ann Scott, now Mrs Tom King, is a housewife, as pretty a homemaker as one can imagine, and she loves cooking, sewing and dusting.” For her part, Scott said “I believe wives should look after their husbands or else don’t get married. I do all his personal laundry by hand. I keep his dresser drawers tidy. I don’t think a husband should have to worry about picking up his own clothes, or shining his razor after he uses it.” However, she still remained active outside of the home, operating for a time a beauty salon in Glencoe, Illinois. She also did commercials and directed theatre. She also became an accomplished equestrian.

During her lifetime, Scott was the recipient of many awards and honours. She won the Lou Marsh Award as Canada’s outstanding sport star for 1945, 1947, and 1948, and the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as Canada’s top female athlete for 1946, 1947, and 1948. A member of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1991, and was given the Order of Ontario in 2008. Barbara Ann Scott passed away at her home in Florida in 2012 at the age of 84. Shortly before her death, she left her Olympic gold medal and other memorabilia to the City of Ottawa which houses them in the Barbara Ann Scott Gallery located at Ottawa City Hall on Laurier Street.

Sources: Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, 2015, Honoured Member Stores – Barbara Ann Scott,

City of Ottawa, Barbara Ann Scott Gallery,

Floskate, 2009. 1948 Winter Olympics Figure Skating – Dick Button and Barbara Ann Scott, YouTube,

The Milwaukee Journal, 1948. “Ottawa Puts on Big Show for Barbara Ann Scott,” 10 March. The Milwaukee Sentinel, 1958. “Whatever Happened To Barbara Ann Scott?” 12 April.

The Montreal Gazette, 1948. “Barbara Ann Scott’s Car To Be Returned.” 7 May.

————————–, 1965. “Barbara Ann Scott Anniversary Today, 6 February.

The Ottawa Citizen, 1950. “Happy Home Life Is Career For Her,” 4 April.

———————–, 1950. “Barbara Ann Scott Doll,” 1 December.

———————–, 1980. “Barbara Ann Scott recalls thrill of Olympics,” 12 February. The Ottawa Journal, 1948. “Ottawa All Out For ‘B.A.-Day,’” 9 March.

————————, 1948. “All Along Line Thousands Cheer,” 9 March.

Skate Canada. 2015. “History and Milestones,”

The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington), 1959. “Barbara Ann Scott Prefers Being Housewife to Stardom,” 5 April.

Wikipedia, 2015. “Barbara Ann Scott,”

What’s My Line, 2013. YouTube, 17 April, 1955,

Images: Barbara Ann Scott greeted by Mayor Stanley Lewis and Prime Minister Mackenzie at Union Station, 9 March 1948, City of Ottawa Archives, CA024868/Newton.

Barbara Ann Scott Greets Her Fans, Union Station, 9 March 1948, City of Ottawa Archives, CA024867/Newton.

Marathon of Hope Reaches Ottawa

30 June 1980

In the pantheon of Canadian heroes stands a young, twenty-one year old man from British Columbia named Terry Fox. Fox, who had lost his right leg to cancer, inspired millions with his attempt in 1980 to run across Canada, from the Atlantic shore of Newfoundland to the Pacific coast of British Columbia, to raise funds for cancer research. Starting his journey in relative obscurity, Fox’s initial goal was to raise $1 million through his Marathon of Hope. But as the word began to spread about his journey, the entire country got behind him enabling him to increase his goal first to $10 million, and then to $24 million ($60 million in today’s money), or $1 for every Canadian.

With a distinctive hopping gait as he compensated for the limitations of his prosthetic limb, Fox ran close to a marathon every day. Weather, traffic, fatigue, blisters, equipment failure, and nagging thigh pain did not deter him. Only the return of his cancer which had metastasized to his lungs stopped him halfway from his goal, after he had run 5,373 kilometres (3,339 miles) in 143 days from St John’s, Newfoundland to just outside Thunder Bay, Ontario. Despite enduring further bouts of chemotherapy, Fox succumbed to the disease roughly nine months later. But his courage and self-sacrifice has had a lasting impact on people everywhere. School, roads, sports fields and even a mountain have been named after him to honour his memory. Each year, Terry Fox runs are held around the world to raise funds for cancer research. To date, more than $650 million has been raised worldwide by the Terry Fox Foundation. Thanks in part to these funds, considerable progress has been made in the war against cancer since Fox’s day. Indeed, osteosarcoma, the cancer which ultimately killed the young man, is now highly treatable, with a cure rate of 80 per cent. As well, most victims, typically young people, no longer face the pain and trauma of amputation.

Terry Fox’s story began in the fall of 1976 when he was in a traffic accident near his home town of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. Fox seemingly hurt his right knee in the incident. But the pain persisted. In March 1977, X-rays and other tests confirmed the worst—cancer. In an effort to halt the spread of the disease, doctors amputated the leg six inches above the knee. Within weeks of the surgery, he was relearning to walk using a prosthetic limb. While undergoing follow-up chemotherapy, Fox, an avid athlete, joined the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association basketball team, and help the team win three national championships.

Inspired by a story of an amputee runner in the New York City Marathon, Fox decided to run across Canada to raise funds for cancer research. Through 1979, he trained daily with weights to increase his upper-body strength. He also begun to run, just a half mile at the beginning. But by the fall he had built up his endurance sufficiently to run his first marathon in Prince George, British Columbia. Although he finished in last place, he crossed the finishing line to the cheers and applause of other contestants. Encouraged by his progress, he contacted the Canadian Cancer Society regarding his intentions for a cross-country run, and to get its support. Friends and family raised $3,000 though garage sales and dances to help fund his journey. Fox also approached corporations for financial assistance. Touched by his request, Ford Motors provided a van, Imperial Oil, the gasoline, Adidas, his running shoes, and Safeway, food coupons, redeemable in its stores.

On 12 April 1980, Fox dipped his artificial leg in the water of St. John’s harbour and commenced his Marathon of Hope. He hoped to reach the west coast by the following November. Accompanying him on his journey was his good friend Doug Alward who drove the van a short distance ahead of Fox, carrying supplies, including three spare legs and various parts. They were later joined by Fox’s younger brother Darryl. The early going was tough. Bad weather, including snow and heavy rain, hampered the run. Often, the boys were disappointed by poor receptions as they travelled through towns on their route, owing to a lack of publicity for the Marathon of Hope. While the run through the St Lawrence Valley of Quebec was beautiful, their inability to speak French hampered communication; they apparently went five days without showers. Traffic on the trans-Canada highway was another issue until the Quebec police gave them an escort. Happily, things markedly improved on their arrival in Montreal. There, they were greeted by Isadore Sharp, the CEO of the Four Seasons Hotel chain. Sharp, who had lost a son to cancer in 1978, took the young men under his wing, putting them up in his Montreal hotel. In addition to sponsoring the marathon, Sharp challenged other businesses to do likewise, an act which hugely raised their national profile.

Fox jogged into Ottawa on 30 June, 1980 to a hero’s welcome. At 11am, the young runner was received by Governor General Ed Schreyer at Rideau Hall. Still dressed in his sweaty, running clothes, the athlete, accompanied by his two t-shirted companions, drank orange juice, and lemonade out of champagne glasses in a grand reception room. He later spoke to a large crowd of supporters on the Sparks Street Mall who gave him a boisterous welcome. Jean Luc Pepin, the federal minister of transport, released a thousand helium balloons from the roof of Ottawa’s Four Seasons Hotel; each balloon advertised Fox’s Marathon of Hope. That night Fox dined with Ron Foxx, an outside linebacker for the Ottawa Rough Riders, as well as volunteers from the Ottawa branch of the Cancer Society.

The next day, Fox was honoured at the Canada Day football game between the Ottawa Rough Riders and their western arch-rivals, the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Despite some initial trepidation, he took the ceremonial opening kick-off, receiving a standing ovation from 16,705 Ottawa fans. Tony Gabriel, Ottawa’s star running back, gave Fox a football autographed by the whole team. Agreeing that he was “one tough kid,” Gabriel commented that there wasn’t a single player among them that could do what Fox was doing. Moved by his spirit, Gabriel hoped that Fox would achieve his dream, and was honoured to have had the opportunity to meet the courageous runner. Fox was later introduced to Prime Minister Trudeau, though the meeting was a bit awkward as the prime minister had not been properly briefed.

Terry Fox

Terry Fox in Ottawa meeting with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, July 1980

Following his rapturous greeting in Ottawa, Fox was a national celebrity. Concerns about publicity melted away, and funds in support of his marathon began to pour in. Amounting to about $300,000 when he entered the nation’s capital at the end of June, pledges soared as he made his way to Toronto and through southern Ontario. By mid-August, $11.4 million had been raised for cancer research with more coming in each day.

But by the end of August, it was apparent that something was wrong; Fox had seemingly caught a bad cold. On 1 September, despite suffering from a hacking cough and chest pains, he resumed his run, unwilling to disappoint cheering fans who turned out to welcome him into Thunder Bay. Eighteen miles outside of town, he was forced to halt. Taken to hospital, doctors confirmed the worst; his cancer had returned. The next day, Fox and his parents held a press conference to announce the news, and that the Marathon of Hope would have to be suspended. The young runner returned to British Columbia to undergo more treatment.

News of Fox’s relapse stunned the country. Tens of thousands of letters of support poured into the hospital from across Canada, and around the world. Many came from young children. The CTV television network organized a nationwide, five-hour televised tribute to Terry Fox, raising more than $10 million for his cause. Celebrity singers, included Anne Murray, John Denver, Glen Campbell, Elton John, and Nana Mouskouri. Ballet dancers, Karen Kain and Frank Augustyn, performed a dance from Romeo and Juliet on the broadcast. By February 1981, Fox’s Marathon of Hope had reached its goal of $24 million. Fox received many honours for his courage and self-sacrifice.  Governor General Ed Schreyer flew out to British Columbia in September 1980 to make him the youngest ever Companion of the Order of Canada. Fox was also awarded the Order of the Dogwood by British Columbia’s Premier, Bill Bennett, and the Lou Marsh trophy for Canada’s top sportsman of 1980. Canadian Press named him Canada’s newsmaker of the year for 1980; an accolade which he again received in 1981 posthumously. With his family at his bedside,

Terry Fox Statue

Terry Fox Statue, Wellington St, Ottawa

Terry Fox passed away on 28 June 1981. He was later buried in his home town of Port Coquitlam. At a memorial service held on Parliament Hill attended by more than 8,000 people, Prime Minister Trudeau tearfully praised Fox saying that his “selfless generosity” “elevated him above the merely courageous to the exceedingly thin ranks of the truly heroic.” The Prime Minister called the Marathon of Hope “a gift of the spirit, and act of love for mankind.” On the twenty-five anniversary of the Marathon of Hope, the Royal Canadian Mint issued a special commemorative dollar coin. A statue of Terry Fox stands on Wellington Street across from the Parliament Buildings. In 2015, the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau exhibited memorabilia from Fox’s marathon, including a jug of Atlantic Ocean water that Fox had wanted to pour into the Pacific, as well as two prosthetic legs, his camper, and scans of some 60,000 cards and letters well-wishers had sent him.


Brown, Jeremy & Harvey, Gail, 1980. Terry Fox: A Pictorial Tribute To The Marathon Of Hope, General Publishing Co, Don Mills, Ontario. CBC, 2008. Terry Fox,

Greenizan, Nick, 2014. “Terry carried people’s emotions with him,” PeaceArch News,

Skuce, Tony, 2014. Terry Fox is still inspiring Canadian kids,” Canadian Running;

The Globe and Mail, 2015. “New Canadian Museum of History honours Terry Fox,” 1 April.

The Ottawa Citizen, 1980. “Cancer victim jogs into Ottawa on a leg and a prayer,” 28 June.

———————–, 1980. “Ottawans cheer for courageous one-legged runner,” 2 July.

———————–, 1980. “Prairie drought threatens to hit Roughriders,” 2 July.

———————–, 1981. “Terry Fox funeral to be televised,” 2 July.

The Tuscaloosa News, 1981. “Terry Fox is buried near home,” 3 July.

The Terry Fox Foundation, 2014, Mission Statement and History,

Trottier, Maxine, 2005. Terry Fox, A Story of Hope, Scholastic Canada Ltd. Toronto.

Images: Terry Fox with Prime Minister Trudeau, July 1980,

Terry Fox Statue, Wellington Street, 2015, by Nicolle Powell.

A Week Without Worry

28 January 1922

Back in 1922, Ottawa hosted a week-long winter festival that easily surpassed any that came before or since. Called the Canadian National Winter Carnival, its slogan was “A Week Without Worry,” a motto that Ottawa citizens and thousands of visitors took to heart. In a time before television and radio, the extravaganza was all the more appreciated, just the ticket to dispel the mid-winter blues. The preparation and organization of the events started months in advance, and involved the city, civic organizations, such as the Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs, as well as church groups, stores, and ordinary citizens. There was even an official Carnival song, written and composed by Mr Cecil Birkett. To an “Indian swing,” the chorus of the tune went: “Ottawa, Canada, Up, where the hills are great and steep, Up, where the snow is good and deep, Ottawa Canada, Up, to the north, where the air is pure and healthy.”

With the city made resplendent with colourful bunting and flags, the carnival officially began at 12.30pm on 28 January 1922 when the Governor General, Lord Byng, and his wife opened the “Slide-a-Mile” toboggan chute located between the Château Laurier Hotel and the Rideau Canal locks. For a dime, toboggan enthusiasts could take a thrilling rollercoaster ride out over the Ottawa River at speeds approaching 100 kilometres an hour on the specially constructed ice slide. Exhilarated riders eventually stopped midway across the river close to the Carnival Tea Room, a restaurant built on the ice that could accommodate more than 100 people. There, they could warm up with tea, toast, hot dogs, and soft drinks before making the long trek back to the Château. One thing that partyers couldn’t buy was booze. Prohibition was in full swing in Ontario; liquor could only be legally obtained with a doctor’s prescription, though doubtlessly more than a few flasks of bootleg booze were consumed.


Slide-A-Mile, beside the Château Laurier Hotel, January 1922

After the opening of the toboggan run, the vice-regal party was escorted by members of the Gaiete and A.J. Freiman snowshoe clubs to Cartier Square, the main venue for outdoor events. Many of the snowshoers wore traditional French-Canadian winter costumes, complete with toques, fur coats, and sashes.  Also in attendance was a Mohawk band in full regalia led by Chief Martin Two Axe from the Caughnawaga Reserve. At the Cartier Square Ice Palace, Ottawa’s Mayor Plant and other members of city council greeted the Governor General, and extended an official welcome to all visitors to the Capital. The Ice Palace was a sixty-five foot high, fairyland castle, complete with ramparts and crenellated towers, made entirely out of ice.

Other events that first day included snowshoe competitions, where participants from across Canada vied for gold, silver and bronze medals. At 7pm, there was a torchlight parade to the Ice Palace which was illuminated by multi-coloured lights; fireworks lit up the skies. This was followed by hockey games at the nearby Rideau Rink, amateur boxing and wrestling at the Drill Hall, and dancing at St Patrick’s Hall. Events held at Cartier Square were free to all, while a small admission fee was charged for the others.

That first day set the pattern for the rest of the week. There was something for everybody. The “Slide-a-Mile” toboggan ride ran constantly day and night. Carnival goers were wowed by daring stunts performed on the slide. George Labelle of the Cliffsides Ski Club descended on one ski, while holding his other leg extended behind him. Each afternoon, large crowds flocked to the rink at Cartier Square to witness varsity, junior, and ladies’ teams play hockey. There was also skiing, curling, and dog races. Every night, snowshoers, marching bands, and soldiers paraded to the Ice Palace, where a searchlight played over the revellers, with dancing to follow at St Patrick’s Hall. On one evening, the Mohawk band held a pow wow at the Drill Hall, treating the crowds to traditional dances, songs, and rope tricks. Lt. W.H. Currie, the chairman of the Carnival parade committee, was made an honorary chief and given the name “Raneriene,” which signified leader. At the ceremony, Chief Two Axe spoke of the friendship shown to him and his companions.

Some events were most unusual. On the first weekend, the YMCA organized a “Balaclava Melee” at the Drill Hall. Popularized by British regiments during the late nineteenth century, this was not a game for the fainthearted. It consisted of two teams on horseback trying to knock feather plumes out of the headgear of their opponents using singlesticks, or cudgels. The melee was followed by a contest of quarterstaves demonstrated by two soldiers. Even more bizarre, a baseball game on skates was attempted, as was a hockey game between two teams riding hobby horses strapped to their waists.  The hobby horse teams were a source of considerable merriment both on and off the ice. The Great War Veterans’ Association also put on a minstrel show.

One of the highlights of the Carnival was an NHL hockey game between the hometown Senators and arch-rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. The Sens topped the Habs 4-2 in an infamous game where notorious Montreal brawler Sprague Cleghorn, dubbed the “disgrace of the NHL,” sent off four Ottawa players with serious injuries; three had to sit out the next two games. Despite their wounds, the Ottawa Senators went on that year to become the Stanley Cup champions.

Through the Carnival week, people bought tickets and voted for their choice to be the Carnival Queen from a slate of Ottawa beauties, with the victor to be presented at a gala ball at the Château Laurier Hotel. For the event, the hotel ballroom was decorated with multi-coloured balloons and streamers in a “Mardi Gras” style. After thousands of ballots were counted, Miss Theresa McCadden emerged the winner. Mayor Plant introduced the brown-eyed, brunette beauty at the ball, her entry heralded by a fanfare of bugles. Escorted by a detachment of boy scouts, she wore a simple black gown with sequin trimmings; her bodice was embroidered with flowers. The Mayor crowned Miss McCadden with a laurel wreath, and gave her a bouquet of roses and a fur scarf before presenting her to her “subjects.” The Ottawa Journal reported that Miss McCadden fulfilled her role “with an easy grace” that charmed everybody.

Gala participants swayed through the night to the sound of two orchestras. But at 10.30pm, in keeping with the Carnival spirit, there was a snowball fight; dancers pelted each other with white feather “snowballs.” A buffet supper followed at 11.30pm in the hotel dining room. Tables were decorated with potted plants and arrangements of spring flowers.

Ice Palace, Ottawa, 1922

Ice Palace, Canadian National Winter Carnival, Ottawa, January 1922

The climax of the Canadian National Winter Carnival took place on the last night, Saturday 3 February. After another day of sporting events, virtually all of Ottawa made their way to Cartier Square to greet the Carnival Queen, and to participate in the “storming” her palace. By 8pm, people had jammed the Square and the surrounding streets. According to the police, it was the largest crowd in Ottawa’s history. For a time, the press of people was a cause for concern as children and seniors were swept along by the crowd, or were squashed against the walls of the Ice Palace. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

At about 8.30pm, “Her Royal Highness” Miss McCadden emerged from the Ice Palace on a fur-draped sleigh, accompanied by the Mohawk band in full regalia. Wearing a white turban, she gracefully acknowledged the cheers of the crowd as her sleigh made its way through an honour guard of boy scouts and snowshoers. The Gaiete Snowshoe Club band played music as the parade wound its way through the city before returning to Cartier Square.

The Carnival Queen’s return marked the beginning of the “storming” of her palace. Starting with a few sky rockets, the fireworks display grew in magnitude above the crowds. Flares and multi-coloured lights, which changed from white, to red, and then to green, lit up the Ice Palace. At times, its ramparts were blazing as if on fire. The grand finale came when hundreds of sky rockets were shot from every window and tower. Fifty “bombs” burst a thousand feet in the air, showering the crowds with rainbow-hued sparks. The light show was accompanied with the thunder of guns as if the castle was truly under attack. After the “storming,” the partying began in earnest at the Drill Hall where men and women dressed in wild costumes danced the night away amidst swirls of confetti.

The next morning the city congratulated itself on a job well done. There was hopes that the Carnival had encouraged people to get out and enjoy winter sports, and that Ottawa could have a Winter Carnival every year. Sadly, that was not to be. It wasn’t until 1979 before Winterlude, or Bal de Neige, became an annual fixture on Ottawa’s social calendar.



The Ottawa Citizen, 1922. “Great Winter Carnival Certain To Flood The City With Visitors,” 18 January.

———————–, 1922. “Thrilling Stunt By Ski Artist On Carnival Slide, 1 February.

———————–, 1922. “Senators Again Trim Canucks By 4-2 In Gruelling Game At Arena: Cleghorn Is Reported,” 2 February.

The Ottawa Journal, 1922. “Winter Carnival Gets Underway at Noon Today,” 28 January.

————————, 1922. “Ottawas And Canadiens To Provide Main Carnival Hockey Attraction,” 31 January.

————————, 1922. “Cartier Square A Gay Spectacle Of Happy Carnival Celebrators For Brilliant Night Programme, 2 February.

————————, 1922. “Many Attractions For Carnival Crowd,” 2 February.

————————, 1922. “Winter Carnival Queen Crowned At Enjoyable Ball In Chateau,” 4 February.

———————–, 1922. “Largest Crown in City History Enjoys Carnival,” 4 February.

———————–, 1922. “The Carnival,” 4 February.

UrbSite, 2013. “Winter Follies: The Ottawa Winter Carnival, 1922,

Images: Slide-a-Mile,

Ice Palace,





The Cup

13 April 1927

The Ottawa Senators’ Cy Denneny, the “Cornwall Colt,” streaks down the left wing side, with Frank “Finny” Finnegan keeping pace along the right-hand boards. Swinging towards centre ice, Denneny fakes a pass to Finnegan. Lionel Hitchman, the Boston defenceman, moves out of position to make the interception.  Putting on the breaks, Denneny drills the puck at the Bruin goaltender, Hal Winkler. The puck bounces off his chest but deflects into the net. The fans go wild. It’s Denneny’s second mark of the night. The time is 11:25 of the third period of the fourth and what turns out to be deciding game of the series. While a late goal helps to keep Boston in the game, it’s too little, too late.  In front of a jubulent home crowd, the Ottawa Senators win 3-1 over the visiting Boston Bruins, and take 1926-27 edition of the Stanley Cup. This is the fourth time in seven years that the Ottawa Senators have hoisted the Stanley Cup, and the last…so far.

Winning the Stanley Cup capped a stupendous year for the Ottawa Senators. The team, under manager Dave Gill and Captain “Buck” Boucher, started the season at a blistering pace, losing only one match of their first fifteen of the 44-game regular season. When the season ended, the team had racked up a 30-10-4 record, with a division leading 64 points, six up on the second place Montreal Canadiens.  The Sens took on the Habs for the Canadian Division crown in a two-game, total-goal, playoff series. Ottawa downed Montreal 4-1 in the first game. In the second, Montreal could only manage a 1-1 tie, leaving the Senators the divisional champions, five goals to one.

The NHL champion series between Ottawa and the Boston Bruins, the American Division champions, opened on 7 April 1927 at the Boston Arena.  Although the “Beantowners” had the edge in play in Game 1, they failed to get past Senator goalie, Alec Connell. But neither could Ottawa find the Boston net. After twenty minutes of overtime, the game ended in a scoreless draw when the referees called the game owing to deteriorating ice conditions. Earlier in the first period, it had appeared that Ottawa had gone in front on a goal by Cy Denneny. But the goal was disallowed as Denneny had received the puck on a forward pass from teammate Frank Nighbor; forward passes were not allowed in the NHL until 1929. In overtime, Boston’s Percy Galbraith managed to get past Connell, but that goal too was disallowed.

Game two, held on 9 April at the Boston Arena, was a distinctly different affair. Both teams abandoned the defensive style of the previous game. The Sens quickly jumped to a two-goal lead in the early minutes of the opening period, on power-play marks from “King” Clancy and Finnegan. Boston narrowed the lead to one goal in the second period when Harry Oliver scored in a scramble in front of the Ottawa net. At the end of a thrilling third period which saw Boston battling desperately to tie the game, Cy Denneny struck again five seconds before the final buzzer, bringing the final score to 3-1 for the visiting Senators.


1926-27 Ottawa Senators

1926-27 Ottawa Senators

With the series moving to Ottawa, Game 3 was held on 11 April in the Auditorium, located on the corner of Argyle and O’Connor Streets, today’s site of Ottawa’s YMCA. The arena, built in 1923 as the home of the Ottawa Senators, had a seating capacity of 7,500, with standing room for another 1,500. Like the first game in Boston, Game 3 ended in tie; this time 1-1in another goaltenders’ duel in front of a boisterous capacity crowd of 9,000. Boston took an early first period lead when Jimmy Herberts, the “Collingwood Sailor,” picked up a pass from Harry Oliver in front of the Ottawa goal and batted it past Sens’ goalie, Alec Connell. The Sens got the equalizer late in the second period. In a brilliant play that got the crowd cheering on their feet, defenceman King Clancy picked up the puck close to his own net, raced to centre ice, eluding the Boston defencemen in the process, before making a brilliant pass to Cy Denneny on left wing who drilled the puck past Hal Winkler. During overtime, Ottawa’s goalie saved the game by coming out of his net to smother the puck, robbing Frank Frederickson, the Boston centre, of an all but certain goal.

Game 4, played on 13 April in the Auditorium, was a hard-fought match in front of a crowd of more than 8,000. With no scoring in the first period, Ottawa struck at the five minute mark of the second period when Finnegan picked up the puck “like a hawk after a hen” and fired it at close range into the upper corner of the Boston net. Less than three minutes later, Denneny scored his first of the night on a blistering shot from the Boston blue line. Denneny’s second goal midway in third period effectively put the game out of Boston’s reach. Connell lost his bid for a third shutout of the series when Harry Oliver, the Boston right winger, got past him in the dying minutes of the game.

The game turned ugly late in the third period. A feud between Boston’s Lionel Hitchman, an Ottawa native, and Hooley Smith, Ottawa’s centreman, led to a fight five minutes before the end of the game. The two slashed at each other near the left-side boards close to the Ottawa net before dropping their gloves. Ottawa Captain “Buck” Boucher raced in, and he and Hitchman came to blows. Both were sent off of the ice, Hitchman bleeding from the mouth. Seconds later, Hooley Smith jabbed Boston’s Harry Oliver in the head, knocking him out. Coming to his team mate’s rescue, Eddie Shore took on Hooley Smith; both were sent off for the rest of the game. Worse was yet to come. As referees Jerry Laflamme and Billy Bell made their way to the dressing room at the conclusion of the game, Laflamme was assaulted by Boston relief defenceman, Billy Coutu. Fortunately, Laflamme was unhurt in the altercation. The next day, NHL President, Frank Calder, fined Coutu $100 and expelled him from the league.  Several other Ottawa and Boston players were also fined or suspended for their roles in the third period fights.

With the victory over the Bruins, the Senators won the O’Brien Cup as NHL champions, as well as the Stanley Cup, still at that time a “challenge cup.” The victory meant a bonus of $1,200 for each Ottawa player, equivalent to about $16,500 in today’s money. The Senators Hockey Club also eked out a small profit owing to the revenues from the playoff series. With the smallest catchment area of any NHL franchise, the team’s revenue stream, shaky even in good times, shrank drastically during the Great Depression. After the team’s management sold off the best players in a bid to survive, the franchise was moved to Saint Louis in 1934 where it lingered as the St. Louis Eagles for another year. Revived in 1990, the Ottawa Senators made it to the Stanley Cup finals in 2007 but fell short, losing to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in five games.



Lewiston Evening Journal, “Bruins Licked, 3-1 Victory to Senators,” 11 April 1927.

The Globe,” Brilliant Attack Wins for Ottawa,” 11 April, 1927.

The Ottawa Evening Citizen, “Third Game of N.H.L. Titular Series Ends a Tie,” 12 April 1927.

————————, “Senators Score Decisive Win for Championship,” 14 April, 1927.

———————–, “Pres. Calder Takes Action Against Five Players,” 15 April, 1927.

The Saskatoon Phoenix, “Boston Bruins Battle To Tie With Ottawans,” 8 April, 1927.

Image:, Pitway Studios, Ottawa.