PLAYING CANADA’S GAMES
Courtesy of the D.K. (Doc) Seaman Hockey Resource Centre,
Hockey Hall of Fame, Toronto
Frank Nighbor, first recipient of the Hart Trophy, 1924
Club de hockey Canadien inc.
Cecil Hart with the Montreal Canadiens team, 1936-37
McCord Museum II-99947
Louis Rubenstein skating, Montreal, 1893
Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, Calgary X981.712.1.8
Fanny “Bobbie” Rosenfeld, ca. 1925
Source: Ontario Jewish Archives Blankenstein Family
World Welterweight Boxing Champion, 1931
Jewish Canadians in Hockey, Football, and the Sporting World
Jewish Canadians have contributed to athletic achievements on the national and international level. The iconic National Hockey League’s Hart Trophy for the player “judged most valuable to his team” was donated by Dr. David Hart (a descendant of Canada’s first Jewish family). His son, Cecil Hart, was a Stanley Cup winning coach and General Manager of the Montreal Canadiens.
Internationally, Louis Rubenstein won the gold medal at the first World Figure Skating Championships in 1890. Fanny “Bobbie” Rosenfeld, an acclaimed female runner, won a gold medal at the 1928 Olympic Games. Rosenfeld also excelled at basketball, ice hockey, fastball, softball, tennis, lacrosse and golf. Toronto boxing champions, Sammy Luftspring and Norman “Baby” Yak, chosen for the 1936 Berlin Olympics, boycotted the Games in protest over Nazi treatment of Jews. In 1938, Luftspring was named world number three welterweight champion.
Hy Buller, who grew up in Saskatchewan, was a professional hockey player who played for the Detroit Red Wings and the New York Rangers. Montreal-born Ben and Joe Weider were bodybuilding promoters who helped turn the sport into a mainstream, competitive activity by founding the International Federation of Body Builders (IFBB), the Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competition, and the first ever sports nutrition company, Weider Nutrition. Expansion of their bodybuilding business included a magazine called Your Physique, fitness equipment and supplements that gained added fame in 1969, when Arnold Schwarzenegger became their public spokesperson.
Jews have been celebrated sportscasters, writers, league officials, and team owners. Red Fisher is a Montreal sports reporter who has had a significant influence within the entire National Hockey League (NHL) community, and is famous for his coverage and thorough knowledge of the Montreal Canadiens. Syd Halter, of Winnipeg, was instrumental in founding and leading the Canadian Football League (CFL) from its inception in 1958 until 1966. Roger Greenberg is currently co-owner of the Ottawa RedBlacks Football team, while Charles Bronfman was the founding majority owner of the Montreal Expos Baseball team. Larry Tanenbaum was an active force in the acquisition of the Toronto Raptors Basketball team, and is currently owner of the Toronto Argonauts; he has also volunteered on the Executive Committees of many professional sports associations.