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Biggest Moments in Canadian Sports History


Canada has one of the most interesting sports cultures in the world. First, some of the most popular leagues are shared with the US, including the NHL, MLB, and NBA. This lends to plenty of content for fans of each sport, as well as international rivalries.

Second, Canada has a long list of its own unique sporting interests. While ice hockey is the crown jewel, lacrosse, Canadian gridiron, and soccer also have well-rounded fanbases. This also includes winter sports that have seen national athletes take home more than a few Winter Olympics gold medals.

But not all of Canada’s top sporting moments involve gold medals—or even a win at all. For example, some might argue that the recent change to betting laws could count as a pivotal moment in sporting history.

For many, Canada’s long-standing law that required bettors to wager on more than one game at a time left fans with few casual options with sportsbooks. However, Parliament passed a special bill over the summer that legalized wagering on single games.

With sportsbooks offering no deposit bonus codes and other welcome offers, Canadian sports fans can now wager on single events like the Grey Cup or Stanley Cup online. Or, taken from the examples listed below, maybe even an NBA Slam Dunk Contest or the Olympic track and field events.

Keep reading for some of Canada’s most pivotal moments in sports culture.

Vince Carter Brings Basketball to Toronto, 2000

Many lists that tally the most memorable moments in Canadian sports history will focus on Kawhi Leonard leading the 2019 Toronto Raptors to victory. It was the first Canadian win in the NBA, and Leonard’s buzzer-defying shot was enough to send the city into a multi-day celebration.

But before the Raptors turned Toronto into a basketball-crazed city, Vince Carter reinvigorated interest in the sport. While the 1992 US Dream Team introduced Europe to basketball, Vince Carter’s through-the-legs dunk turned countless Canadians into Raptors’ fans. Today, the city remains the country’s hotbed for basketball recruits.

Canada Wins the Summit Series, 1972

Though many would list the Wayne Gretzky-Mario Lemiuex matchup of the 1987 Canada Cup as one of the best hockey moments in the country’s history, the 1972 Summit Series weighed heavier in the Cold War-era hockey faceoffs between Canada and the USSR.

The win was bigger for two reasons. First, the USSR should’ve won; these were the days before Gretzky and Lemieux. Second, the Cold War was nearly over by the time Gretzky and Lemieux delivered their master class in ice hockey in ’87.

Back in 1972, Canada and the USSR were tied with three wins each and a tied game, which meant tensions were at an all-time high. With only 34 seconds left in game seven, Paul Henderson knocked a goal in and cemented himself in Canadian sports history, and was named the architect of the ‘Greatest Goal of the Century’. Some might also argue it’s one of the greatest of all time.

Marilyn Bell Swims Lake Ontario, 1954

Once again, there’s no shiny medal to take home for this Canadian sporting feat—nor is there a league attached to Marilyn Bell’s incredible feat. Back in 1954, the talented swimmer was tackling challenges of her own making, and she’d set her eyes on crossing Lake Ontario.

Bell didn’t have a camera crew following her when she set out to swim the 32 miles from Youngstown, New York to Ontario. In fact, she braved massive waves and polluted stretches with little guidance. After, Bell didn’t take home any prize money or accolades. She simply said she ‘did it for Canada’.

Canadian Women’s Team Takes Home Inaugural Gold, 1928

The 1928 Olympics, hosted in the Netherlands, saw the very first track and field events open to female athletes. Canada sent over a team of six athletes to compete; they would eventually bring home two gold medals, two silver medals, and a bronze medal, which made Canada the Olympics’ standout winner.

Canada brought home a gold medal in the 4×100-meter race and the high jump. Both were inaugural women’s events in the Olympics.

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