Blacks in Canadian Athletic History

In Canada, sport has been an important component of our culture. We celebrate our communities through sport as well as our shared stories.

Black Canadians have a rich sporting history that dates back to the 1800s. This timeline depicts some of the many stories of extraordinary Black athletes.;xNLx;;xNLx;Most of the Black athletes had to wage a personal battle for acceptance and respect. Some eventually received it while others never did. Facing racism and discrimination has been an unfortunate reality for almost all of them. How they dealt with that reality is what makes them unique. What seems to unite them, however, is their love of and passion for their particular sport. ;xNLx;;xNLx;In overcoming adversity and indifference, these Black athletes managed to leave a lasting mark upon sport in Canada and abroad in some cases. Their achievements helped instill Black pride and self-esteem and also served to improve the social inclusion of Blacks within Canadian society.;xNLx;;xNLx;Thanks to trailblazers like Sam Langford (boxing), Jackie Robinson (baseball), Willie O’Ree (hockey) and Angela Issajenko (track and field), they helped to pave the way for other Black athletes to follow and also achieve success, which has forever changed Canada’s sporting landscape. ;xNLx;;xNLx;Bob Dawson;xNLx;Sports Writer, Diversity Management Consultant and Black Hockey Historian;xNLx;

William Oliver

William Oliver is the first known Black person to play on a Canadian university hockey team -- Acadia University in Nova Scotia.

John Utendale - First Black player to sign with an NHL team

In 1955, John Utendale, from Edmonton, Alberta, was signed by the Detroit Red Wings. He never played for the Red Wings but did play in their farm system at the minor professional level.

Saint Mary’s All-Black Forward Line

The first all-Black forward line to play Canadian university hockey consisted of Bob Dawson, Darrell Maxwell, and Percy Paris, all from Nova Scotia. They played together in 1970 at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia in what was then the Atlantic Intercollegiate Hockey League.

Darren Lowe, First Black National Team Captain and CIAU Head Hockey Coach

Darren Lowe of Toronto, Ontario, was the first Black player to be named captain of the Canadian Men's National Hockey Team that competed in the 1984 Winter Olympics.

Sam Richardson

Born in Toronto, Samuel Richardson competed for Canada in the 1936 Summer Olympics.

Angella Taylor Issajenko

Angella Taylor Issajenko is one of Canada's best sprinters.

Sam Agee

Sam Agee of Dawson City, Yukon, played on the Renzoni Championship Hockey Team. He was the first Black person to play hockey in Canada's far north.

Larry Gains

Larry Gains from Toronto, Ontario, was one of the top heavyweight boxers in his time. He became the Champion of the Dominion of Canada and the British Empire.

Dave Downey, A Canadian Boxing Champion

Dave Downey of Halifax grew up in a family that produced three professional boxers. He held the Canadian Middleweight Championship from 1957 to 1970. After a defeat, he regained the title and successfully defended it three times. He was inducted into the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame in 1976.

George Godfrey

George Godfrey was a heavyweight boxer born 1853 in the Bog in Prince Edward Island. He left Canada for Boston and began boxing. Over his career, he fought over 100 matches. He won the World Colored Heavyweight Championship in 1883.

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