Tag Archives: Saskatoon

Mr. Hockey

Trading Card of Gordie Howe

Trading card photo of Gordie Howe as a member of the Detroit Red Wings. These cards were printed on the backs of Chex cereal boxes in the US and Canada from 1963 to 1965. Those collecting the cards cut them from the back of the boxes.

Gordie Howe, a great Canadian hockey legend, known for, among other feats, for his Hat Trick.

Here are a few facts:

* Born on March 31, 1928 in Floral, Saskatchewan.

* Died on June 10, 2016 in Toledo, Ohio at the age of 88.

* He was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.

* He was ambidextrous.

* Played from 1946-1971 and 1973-1980.

* He was nicknamed Mr. Hockey.

* A 23-time NHL All-Star, he held many of the sport’s scoring records until they were broken in the 1980s by Wayne Gretzky. He continues to hold NHL records for most games and seasons played.

* He won the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings four times, won six Hart Trophies as the league’s most valuable player, and won six Art Ross Trophies as the leading scorer.

* Howe was most famous for his scoring prowess, physical stamina and career longevity. He is the only player to have competed in the NHL In five different decades (1940s through 1980s). Although he only accomplished the task twice in his own career, he became the namesake of the “Gordie Howe hat trick”: a goal, an assist and a fight in the same game. He was the inaugural recipient of the NHL Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

* He was slightly dyslexic growing up, however, he was physically beyond his years at an early age. Already six feet tall in his mid-teens, doctors feared a calcium deficiency and encouraged him to strengthen his spine with chin-ups. He started playing organised hockey at eight years old. Howe quit school during the Depression to work In construction with his father, then left Saskatoon at sixteen to pursue his hockey career.

* Howe was an ambidextrous player, one of just a few skaters able to use the straight sticks of his era to shoot either left or right-handed.

* He experienced his first taste of professional hockey at age 15 in 1943 when he was invited by the New York Rangers to their training camp held at “The Amphitheatre” in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He played so well that the Rangers wanted Howe to sign a “C” form which would have given that club his NHL rights and to play that year at Notre Dame, a Catholic school in Wilcox, Saskatchewan, which had a reputation for discovering good hockey players. Howe wanted to go back home to play hockey with his friends, and declined the Rangers’ offer and returned to Saskatoon.



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British Settlers Arrive in Saint John

English: Barr colonists in Saskatoon, Saskatch...

Barr colonists in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1903 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many settlers from England proved to rank with the best citizens of Canada, although enduring terrible hardships; and probably because they endured terrible hardships.  The journey made by the founders of Lloydminster on the Saskatchewan-Alberta border shows their courage.

In 1903, The Laurier Government was enjoying a great immigration boom, thanks to an almost worldwide drive for new settlers.   One of the immigration agents was the Reverend I. M. Barr, a silver-tongued orator in England.  Anxious to earn the $5 paid for every head of family and the $2 for every person sent to Canada, he persuaded a large group of people that life in western Canada was better than in England.  Their ship, an old tub called the Manitoba, arrived in Saint John on April 10, 1903, after a dreadful crossing.  Men, women and children slept in the cargo holds.  There was no privacy, the most primitive of toilet facilities, and the food and water were unfit to eat or drink.

When they arrived in Saint John, they were loaded into “colonist cars.”  The train was so slow it was said that the people in the front coaches could shoot a rabbit from a window, jump out, pick it up and get back on one of the coaches to the rear!

When they arrived at Saskatoon, they lived in tents for two weeks before journeying on.  The wagons they travelled in were overloaded; baggage dropped into mud-holes and coal oil spilled into the food.  The temperature was often below zero as blizzards gusted across the prairies.

Many of those people were ordinary city-folk.  Yet, they stuck it out.  The colonists deposed Reverend Isaac Barr and replaced him with the Reverend George Lloyd. He encouraged the colonists, as shown by the founders of present day Lloydminster, which they named after him, because he did so much to keep them going.

Do you want a visual?  Just go to Canadian Museum of Civilization, where you will find a painting by C.N. Frey depicting this voyage. A great place to get a more detailed account, a good place would be at .

If you want to read not only about this, but about everything Canada and Canadian, I highly suggest reading The Oxford Companion to Canadian History.

“Barr Colony, Isaac Barr (1847-1937), a charismatic but inept Anglican clergyman, promised Clifford Sifton‘s Department of Immigration, anxious to import farmers to the thinly populated Prairies, that his colonization scheme would “save Canada for the British”.  The Laurier government did more than usual to ensure the safety and comfort of the 2,000 British townsfolk — bank clerks, butchers, housemaids, gardeners — who responded to Barr’s Call.  Halfway through the 330-km trek, which took them by wagon from the railhead at Saskatoon to the “Promised Land” west of Battleford in the dismal spring of 1903, the colonists deposed Barr and replaced him with the Reverend George Lloyd (1861-1940), another controversial man, after whom they named Lloydminster. Watched by the international press, “the raw Englishmen loose on the plains’ spent a miserable first winter in poorly built sod huts, but most proved their homesteads and eventually became successful farmers and business people.”

The previous is reprinted here, with permission, from  The Oxford Companion to Canadian History, Edited by Gerald Hallowell, (,  -Lynne Bowen, pp.64 copyright Oxford University Press Canada 2004  ISBN: 13:978-0-19-541559 :

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Burns Wins Boxing Crown

World heavyweight boxing champion Tommy Burns

World heavyweight boxing champion Tommy Burns (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Canada once “produced” a world heavyweight boxing champion who became an ordained minister in Vancouver. He was Tommy Burns, born Noah Brusso in Hanover, Ontario.

Although Tommy Burns won the world heavyweight title on February 23, 1906 by defeating Marvin Hart in a 20-round fight in Los Angeles, he wasn’t a real heavyweight at all. Burns was only five feet seven inches tall, and usually weighed about 170 pounds in the ring. Most of his fights were against men who were from 30 to 60 pounds heavier. However, he had an extraordinary reach of 74-1/2 inches. Perhaps more important, he was highly intelligent, self-sufficient (he never had a manager) and knew how to get into the best condition. His training methods were copied not only by boxers but other athletes, and he wrote a book about scientific boxing.

When Burns beat Hart in 1906, his claim to the world’s championship was disputed by other fighters, and so he took on all the challengers., He defended his title successfully ten times before he lost to huge Jack Johnson in Australia in 1908. The fight was no contest. Johnson was far too big, and Burns could not land a blow. Finally the police stopped the fight during round 14 to save Burns from further punishment. Still, he made $30,000, the biggest purse ever won by a fighter at that time. Altogether, Burns won about $200,000 from the fight game and lifted it into the big-money class.

After Burns lost the championship, he fought in Calgary, Saskatoon, and Prince Rupert, winning every time. He was over forty when he was finally defeated by Joe Beckett in England.

Then he retired to Vancouver where he became a church minister. Later, Tommy became an honored member of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.


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“Most Modern Railways in the World”

Sir Henry and Lady Thornton at Ontario Jockey ...

Sir Henry and Lady Thornton at Ontario Jockey Club. He was the energetic second President of the Canadian National Railway from 1922 to 1932. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In many railway stations across Canada there is a bronze plaque commemorating Sir Henry Thornton, the first president of Canadian National Railways.

When World War I ended, the privately owned Grand Trunk and Canadian Northern Railways were bankrupt, and the government decided to take them over. An Order-in-Council was passed on December 20, 1919, but the amalgamation was not completed until January, 1923. It included the Canadian Government Railways, the most important of which was the Intercolonial to the Maritime.

Sir Henry Thornton was an American-born engineer who had gone to Britain in 1914 to become general manager of the Great Eastern Railway. During the war he served as Assistant Director-General of Transportation in France. Then a British subject, he was knighted for his services.

Prime Minister Mackenzie King invited him to come to Canada to organize the Canadian National Railways. It’s 22,000 miles of track in Canada and 2,000 miles in the United States made it the longest in the world.

Sir Henry Thornton was a man of great drive and imagination. Before he resigned in 1932, it was said he knew personally every member of the train crews. CN porters were proud that they had talked with him and shaken his hand. Even though there was a great deal of criticism levelled at the railway with its annual deficits, the morale of the CN employees was never shaken.

Sir Henri modernized railroading. He built hotels, acquired ships for coastal service, and Canadian National radio stations to provide entertainment for the passengers on the trains. The radio stations became the basis for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). He even introduced a two-way telephone service on trains like the International Limited between Montreal, Toronto, and Chicago. In all, Sir Henry Thornton spent about $400 million to make the CN of the most modern railways in the world!

Sir Henry was heavily criticized because he built new hotels in Halifax, Saskatoon and Vancouver, and enlarged the Château Laurier in Ottawa. The C.P.R. had enough influence to prevent the Hotel Vancouver from being opened, and it stood empty for a several years. When World War II began, conditions would have been chaotic if it had not been for Sir Henry Thornton’s foresight.

Yet criticism forced him to resign in 1932 and he died soon after.


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