The game is six degrees of Canadian history. Take two seemingly unrelated pieces of Canadian culture and connect the dots through various people, places and events to discover how they’re distantly — or maybe not so distantly — related. Along the way we visit the quizzical and curious, the tragic and comic, and everything in between.
Canadian women have participated in every Olympic Winter Games since their inception in 1924. The first Canadian woman to medal at the Games was figure skater Barbara Ann Scott, who won gold in 1948. Her success was followed by gold medals in such sports as alpine skiing (e.g., Anne Heggtveit in 1960 and Nancy Greene in 1968), speed skating (e.g., Catriona Le May Doan in 1998 and 2002 and Cindy Klassen in 2006), biathlon (Myriam Bédard 1994), and hockey (2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014). Canadian women have also excelled in Olympic sports such as bobsled, snowboarding, short track speed skating, freestyle skiing, and curling. Since the 1948 Olympic Winter Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Canadian women have won 88 Olympic medals, including 33 gold medals.
Georges St-Pierre (nicknamed GSP), mixed martial artist (born 19 May 1981 in Saint-Isidore, Québec). Considered one of the best ultimate fighters ever in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight division, St-Pierre has a career record of 26 wins and two losses. A UFC welterweight champion from 2006 to 2007 and 2008 to 2013, St-Pierre holds the record for the most title defenses in the UFC welterweight division, with nine. In 2017, he defeated Michael Bisping to win the middleweight championship. St-Pierre was named the 2008, 2009 and 2010 Rogers Sportsnet Canadian Athlete of the Year, the 2008 Black Belt Magazine MMA Fighter of the Year, the 2009 Sports Illustrated Fighter of the Year and the 2009 World MMA Awards Fighter of the Year.
Sonja Gaudet (née Melis), Paralympic wheelchair curler (born 22 July 1966 in North Vancouver, British Columbia). A three-time Paralympian, Gaudet won gold for Canada at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games in Turin, 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver and 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi. She was the first wheelchair curler ever to win multiple Paralympic gold medals. Gaudet is also a three-time world champion, having helped Canada win a gold medal at the 2009 World Wheelchair Curling Championship in Vancouver, 2011 World Wheelchair Curling Championship in Prague and 2013 World Wheelchair Curling Championship in Sochi.
Mikaël Kingsbury, freestyle skier (born 24 July 1992 in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, QC). Kingsbury won the silver medal in men’s moguls at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. In International Ski Federation (FIS) World Cup competition, he has won six Crystal Globes as the overall champion of freestyle skiing (2012–2017) and the World Cup moguls title for seven straight years (2012–18). As of 16 January 2018, he has won a record 48 World Cup gold medals and 69 medals overall in moguls competition. Kingsbury has also won seven medals at the world championships.
Alexandre Bilodeau, skier (born 8 September 1987 in Montréal, QC). Moguls skier Alexandre Bilodeau was the first Canadian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal on home soil, when he won gold in moguls at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. He successfully defended his gold medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
Tessa Virtue, figure skater (born 17 May 1989 in London, ON) and Scott Moir, figure skater (born 2 September 1987 in London, ON). Virtue and Moir are the most successful Canadian ice dance team of the early 21st century, and were the first North Americans to win the Olympic Gold Medal for ice dance, at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. At the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, they won silver in ice dance and in the team competition. They have also won four world championships (three senior and one junior), three Four Continents championships, nine Canadian championships (eight senior and one junior) and multiple Grand Prix events, including a Grand Prix Final.
Mark Arendz, Paralympian, biathlon and cross-country skiing (born 3 March 1990 in Charlottetown, PEI). A two-time medallist at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Arendz won a silver medal for Canada in the men’s 7.5 km standing biathlon competition and a bronze medal in the men’s 12.5 km standing biathlon competition. Arendz also competed for Canada in para-cross-country skiing in Sochi and para-cross-country skiing and biathlon at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver. He has also won eight medals (two in cross-country skiing and six in biathlon, including three gold medals) at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Nordic Skiing World Championships. Arendz won eight IPC World Cup events and 40 individual IPC World Cup medals, as well as the 2013 World Cup Crystal Globe in para-biathlon.
Meagan Duhamel, figure skater (born 8 December 1985 in Sudbury, ON) and Eric Radford, figure skater (born 27 January 1985 in Winnipeg, MB). Figure skaters Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford have been competing together in pairs competitions since 2010. Known for their technical excellence, they have won two world championships (2015, 2016) and an Olympic silver medal, as well as gold medals at nine other international competitions. They were Canadian champions from 2012 to 2018, the longest consecutive streak for Canadian pairs.
Kaetlyn Osmond, figure skater (born 5 December 1995 in Marystown, NL). Figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond has been Canadian champion (2013, 2014, 2017), an Olympic silver medallist in the team event (2014) and a silver medallist at the World Figure Skating Championships (2017). She has won gold medals at five other international events since 2012.
Charles Hamelin, short track speed skater (born 14 April 1984 in Lévis, QC). Hamelin has won three Olympic gold medals for Canada in short track speed skating. At the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, he won the men’s individual 500m event and men’s 5000m team relay event (with Guillaume Bastille, François Hamelin, Olivier Jean and François-Louis Tremblay). At the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Hamelin won a gold medal in the men’s 1500m short track speed skating event. Hamelin also won a silver medal in the men’s relay at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin. As of 2017, he has won 10 gold medals at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships. Hamelin has been named Male Short Track Athlete of the Year 10 times by Speed Skating Canada.
Dennis Lloyd (Denny) Morrison, speed skater (born 8 September 1985 in Chetwynd, BC). A four-time Olympic medalist in speed skating, Morrison won gold for Canada in the men’s team pursuit at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, with Mathieu Giroux and Lucas Makowsky. He also won silver in the men’s team pursuit at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin and two individual medals at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi: silver in the 1000m and bronze in the 1500m. Morrison has also won 11 career medals, including two gold medals, at the World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships and 57 career World Cup medals, including 16 gold medals, as of 10 December 2017.
Gaylord Powless, Mohawk lacrosse player (born 1 December 1946 in Six Nations of the Grand River, ON; died 28 July 2001 in Ohsweken, ON). Gaylord Powless was a box lacrosse player who transcended the game to become one of Canada’s most famous athletes. Powless lived most of his life in Six Nations of the Grand River, near Brantford, Ontario. He became the signature player on the Oshawa Green Gaels’ junior lacrosse dynasty of the 1960s and shattered the Ontario junior league scoring record in his sophomore year with the team. The Gaels won the Minto Cup, Canada’s national junior lacrosse championship, in all four years that he played at the junior level. Powless also won the 1971 Mann Cup, which is emblematic of the Canadian senior lacrosse champions, and was a marquee player in three different professional leagues. Powless and his father, Ross, are both members of the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame and the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame. In 2017, Powless was elected to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Marie-Philip Poulin, hockey player (born 28 March 1991 in Québec City, Québec). Poulin is a two-time Olympic champion who holds the unique distinction of scoring the gold medal-winning goals for Canada at both the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. The forward has also won a world championship and two Clarkson Cup titles in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League championships. The recipient of numerous honours and awards, Poulin is considered one of the world’s top players and has been compared to fellow Canadian Sidney Crosby.
Anik Bissonnette, OC, CQ, ballerina, arts administrator (born at Montréal 9 Feb 1962). Québec's best-known ballerina, Anik Bissonnette is renowned for her exceptional musicality, purity of line and extraordinary balances, and for using her technical assurance to plumb exciting emotional depths. After garnering wide acclaim in many performances with Louis Robitaille, she was a principal dancer at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens (LGBC) from 1989 to 2007 and made annual appearances at Montréal's Gala des Étoiles from 1983 until 2006. She was artistic director of the Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur from 2004 to 2014, and has been artistic director of the École supérière de ballet contemporain de Montréal since 2010. An Officer of the Order of Canada and a Chevalière of the National Order of Québec, she has received the Prix Denis Pelletier and the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Hull won the Art Ross Trophy 3 times, the Hart Trophy twice and the Lady Byng Trophy once, scoring 610 goals and 1170 points in 15 NHL seasons. In 1972 he accepted $1 million to jump from the NHL to the Winnipeg Jets, giving immediate credibility to the fledgling World Hockey Association.
Dr. James Naismith, physical educator, author, inventor, chaplain, physician (born 6 November 1861 in Almonte, Ontario; died 28 November 1939 in Lawrence, Kansas). Naismith is best known as the inventor of the sport of basketball. He established the basketball program at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, where he worked and lived for 41 years until his death on 28 November 1939. Naismith was posthumously inducted to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and in 1959 became the first member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. His original hand-written rules for the sport of basketball were sold at auction for $4.3 million, a sports memorabilia record.
Kaillie Humphries (née Simundson), bobsledder (born 4 September 1985 in Calgary, AB). At the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Humphries won a gold medal for Canada in the two-woman bobsled competition with Heather Moyse of Summerside, PEI, becoming the first Canadian woman to pilot a Canadian bobsled team to victory at an Olympic Winter Games. At the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Humphries and Moyse won gold again, becoming the first women’s bobsled team in history to successfully defend an Olympic title. Humphries is also the first Canadian female bobsled driver to win the World Championship in bobsled competition. In November 2014, she became one of the first two women to compete in international four-man bobsleigh competition.
Joey Votto, baseball player (born 10 September 1983 in Toronto, ON). Joey Votto is a Canadian baseball player with the Cincinnati Reds. In 2010, he won the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award and Hank Aaron Award, as well as the Lou Marsh Trophy for Canada’s outstanding athlete of the year. Two years later, he became one of the highest paid baseball players in major league history. In 2017, he was again awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy. He has also won the James “Tip” O’Neill Award seven times.
Chris Williamson, Paralympic alpine skier (born 5 May 1972 in Edmonton, Alberta). Williamson competed in four Paralympic Winter Games over the course of his 17-year career, winning four medals, including gold in the men’s slalom at the 2002 Paralympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. He also dominated the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Cup competition, winning 56 gold medals (105 medals in total), 14 titles in individual disciplines, and 8 Crystal Globes. At the IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships, Williamson won two gold medals and 14 medals overall. He retired from competition in 2015.