Library and Archives Canada: Unique Resources for the Winter Olympics
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has acquired an undeniable reputation as custodian of our country’s documentary heritage. We hold a considerable amount of archives and resources – images, photos, documents, videos and films – that cover the world of sports and chronicle the exploits of Canadian teams and athletes.
In the lead-up to the 2018 Winter Olympics to be held in PyeongChang, South Korea, from February 9 to 25, LAC has prepared this press kit for the media. In it, we have included important anniversaries and notable events, as well as a chronicle of exploits of Canadians who have marked the history of the Winter Olympics. We hope these will be of interest to your readers and viewers, and that they will inspire you as you work on your programs, reporting and articles.
For more information on our resources on the Olympics and on sports in general, please do not hesitate to contact our media relations service by email or by telephone at 819-994-4589
50 Years Ago: Nancy Greene, Olympic Alpine Skiing Queen
At the Grenoble Olympics in 1968, Canadian Nancy Greene wins gold in giant slalom and silver in slalom. That year, the Ottawa skier would also be crowned world downhill skiing champion for a second year in a row. In fact, she had captivated the world the previous year by winning the very first edition of the World Cup of Downhill Skiing.
In 1999, Ms. Greene Raine was named “Canada’s Female Athlete of the 20th Century” by the Canadian Press following a survey of the country’s media. Today, she is a Senator and represents the Thompson-Okanagan-Kootenay region in British Columbia.
Flickr album on Nancy Greene Raine’s archives
70 Years Ago: Canada is Golden on the Ice
Figure skater Barbara Ann Scott wins gold and becomes the darling of the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Her triumph did not happen by chance. Indeed, by 1947 she had won every championship she was eligible for: Canadian, North American, European and World. To this day, Ms. Scott remains the only Canadian in Olympic history to reach the top of the podium in the women’s figure skating event.
While Barbara Ann Scott’s win had been expected, the Royal Canadian Air Force’ Flyers hockey team took everyone by surprise when they won gold. The team composed of amateur hockey players were not among the favourites to reach the finals. Given that the Flyers had been outclassed in exhibition games, they were given slim odds of winning even a single game in St. Moritz. Last-minute additions, including goaltender Murray Dowey, changed things dramatically. Led by head coach Frank Boucher, the Flyers went unbeaten. In eight games, Dowey recorded five shutouts, including the last game (3-0 against the Swiss), leading the Canadians to gold. Today, it is still considered to be one of Canada’s greatest exploits in the history of the Winter Olympics.
Barbara Ann Scott archives
- Short film Canadian Headlines of 1947 where we see Barbara Ann Scott in action.
- Former Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King never hid his admiration for Ms. Scott. In his personal diary, he often praises the Ottawa-born athlete: 30463, 30520, 30554, 30583, 30789, 30816, 30946, 31192, 31785, 31786, 31813
RCAF Flyers archives
In 2015, LAC acquired the fonds of Alexander Gardner ”Sandy” Watson, the Royal Canadian Air Force doctor who built the Flyers’ team with players coming from Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. The archival fonds includes more than 200 photographs, telegrams, albums of press clippings, programs, medals and other records relating to the team’s games and activities during the Winter Olympics, the subsequent European tour, and the motorcade and reception in its honour upon returning to Ottawa in April 1948. Murray Dowey is the only surviving member of the team that was inducted into Canada’s Olympic Hall of Fame in 2008.
Numerous Canadian Exploits
Here is a selection of notable successes of Canadian athletes who left their mark on the Winter Olympics and on Canadian sports history.
- Icelandic Team Canada — 1920 (Antwerp, Belgium): The Winnipeg Falcons win the first gold medal in hockey in the history of the Olympics. A little-known fact: the very first Olympic competition in this sporting event took place … during the Summer Games! The team, coached by Frank Fredrickson (see his personal record of the First World War), was made up almost entirely of players of Icelandic heritage.
- Hockey Arrives at the Winter Olympics — 1924 (Chamonix, France): Hockey becomes an official event at the first edition of the Winter Olympic Games. The Toronto Granites represent Canada and win the gold medal after defeating the United States. The film on the Chamonix Olympic Games includes footage from the final game.
- First Canadian Gold Medal in Alpine Skiing — 1960 (Squaw Valley, United States): Anne Heggtveit wins the slalom event and becomes the first Canadian to win a gold medal in alpine skiing at the Winter Olympics. This event had largely been dominated by European athletes for decades.
- Golden Couple — 1960 (Squaw Valley, United States): Three-time world champion figure skaters Barbara Wagner and Robert Paul live up to their billing by winning gold in the pairs figure skating event. Shortly after the Games, they would go on to win a fourth consecutive world title at the world figure skating championships held in Vancouver.
- A Four-man Bobsleigh Miracle — 1964 (Innsbruck, Austria): For the first time in its history, Canada competes in the bobsleigh event at the Winter Olympics. Far from being favourites, Canada's bobsleigh team of Victor Emery, Peter Kirby, John Emery and Doug Anakin stun the bobsleighing world by winning gold by over one second, a remarkable feat in a sport measured in milliseconds.
- On Top of the Slopes and Podium — 1976 (Innsbruck, Austria): First out of the gate in the giant slalom final, Kathy Kreiner wins gold, surprising the downhill skiing world by beating the heavily favoured Rosi Mittermaier, double gold medalist at the Games.
- A Double Gold Medalist from Quebec — 1984 (Sarajevo, Yugoslavia): Sainte-Foy, Quebec’s Gaétan Boucher dominates in the 1,000 m and 1,500 m long track speed skating events, winning two gold medals. He also wins bronze in the 500 m. Four years earlier in Lake Placid, the Quebec athlete had won a silver medal in the 1,000 m event.
Sports Heritage Resources
First book about hockey: View a scanned version of a rare book on our national sport, Hockey: Canada's Royal Winter Game, by Arthur Farrell, a Stanley Cup champion in 1899 and 1900. There are only four copies of this book in existence.
Military service records: Consult the most complete database of personnel records of the First World War. The records of many Canadian athletes can be found there.
Photos: Delve into LAC's millions of images in its collection. Use keywords! LAC’s Flickr account contains an album on hockey.
Films: Explore LAC’s collection of over 90,000 films, which include both short and feature-length films, documentaries, and silent films, some dating back to 1897. Consult our YouTube channel.
Podcast: LAC has produced a number of podcasts, including one on hockey: “Canada's Royal Winter Game,” and another on curling: “Shot Stone: Curling in Canada.”
Blog: LAC keeps a blog with posts and stories inspired by the archives in our collection. A number of these are sports-themed.
Patents: Engineers and inventors have applied their ingenuity to winter sports. Learn about a few of their creations in this blog. Find out about others on our Canadian Patents, 1869–1919 page.
Music: Have a listen to … the Virtual Gramophone, a site dedicated to the earliest days of sound recording in Canada.
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Photos from the collection