10 inspiring moments in history when Canadians showed true heart

Canadians are tough. We have grit and passion. We persevere when challenges are thrown our way. When the pressure is on, we fight with all our strength and determination. We put our whole heart into everything we do because it’s the Canadian way.

In honour of that, we thought we’d put together a list of ten active moments when Canadian Heart was on full display. Moments that will forever live on in the hearts and minds of Canadians everywhere:

10. Kurt Browning does what no other figure skater has done before

When Kurt Browning successfully landed after completing four full revolutions in the air, he changed figure skating forever. The unbelievable “quad” jump won him the gold at the 1988 World Championships and set the bar for every other figure skater looking to follow in his footsteps.

Safe to say, it takes heart to jump into the air, spin around four times and land on skates, on ice, in a way no other person on Earth has done before.

9.  Evan Dunfee graciously takes 4th in Rio Olympic walk race 

You may not remember Evan Dunfee from Rio; he didn’t win a medal after all, but he showed a tremendous amount of heart. After being bumped by a Japanese walker in the final 2 km, Evan finished 4th, but was quickly awarded a bronze medal due to the infraction. A Japanese appeal, however, overturned that decision and Dunfee was once again out of the medals.

Athletics Canada considered appealing that decision, and probably had a good case, but Dunfee refused to take the process any further. "I had the option to appeal to CAS [the Court of Arbitration for Sport] and to me, I couldn't have honestly and appropriately gone a step further," said Dunfee. "I had to ask myself, if I got this medal, would I be proud of it…and be able to sleep at night."

"Even if an appeal to CAS was successful I would not have been able to receive that medal with a clear conscience and it isn't something I would have been proud of," Dunfee added. That kind of pride is at the heart of everything Canadians do.

8. Canadian women’s soccer team wins Olympic bronze in 2012

A Canadian team hadn’t won a traditional team sport medal since 1936. In the World Cup the year before, Canada didn’t even a win game. But for captain Christine Sinclair and the rest of the team, that was only more motivation.

Inspired by Christine’s belief that “you can’t be great until you achieve great things,” the team banded together and practiced even harder to prepare for the Olympics. All that hard work paid off, helping Canada advance through the early rounds of the tournament.

But after a heartbreaking loss to the US in the semi-finals, due to what some might call questionable officiating, Canada had to face a highly ranked French team just to earn a spot on the podium. In true Canadian fashion, the women repelled a strong French attack for a full 90 minutes before striking in extra time to take the bronze. A true show of heart and determination.

7. Donovan Bailey becomes the fastest man in the world

It took less than 10 seconds for Donovan Bailey to take the crown of fastest man in the world and earn a place in the hearts of people across Canada. His performance in the 4 X 100 metre relay that secured Canada a second gold in the 1996 Olympic Summer Games helped a bit too.

Running as fast as humanly possible is something most people try to do at least a few times in their life, so it takes more than a little perseverance to become the fastest man in the world. Donovan Bailey had the heart necessary to make it happen.

6. The Blue Jays win back-to-back World Series in 1992-3

It may seem like ancient history to Jay fans now, but there was a time when the Blue Jays were the best team in the world.

In 1992, they won their second straight American League crown with a record of 96-66, going the entire season without being swept in a series—the first team to accomplish the feat in 49 years. The Jays finished the playoffs strong, taking down the Atlanta Braves in six games and becoming the first team outside of the US to win the World Series.

In 1993, the Jays had another outstanding season, finishing with a record of 95-67, seven games ahead of the New York Yankees. In the World Series, they faced the Philadelphia Phillies and won some spectacular games. In Game 4, they came back from a 14-9 deficit to win 15-14 in the highest scoring World Series game in history.

And then in game 6, with the Jays down 6-5, came the classic, bottom of the 9th, Joe Carter three-run walk-off home run to clinch the series. Only the second in the history of Major League Baseball. It was a great time for the Blue Jays and a great display of Canadian heart.

5. The Battle of Vimy Ridge April 9, 1917

The heart that Canadian soldiers displayed during the First World War will forever be remembered in Canada and around the world. At Vimy Ridge, 100,000 Canadian troops stormed the German position amidst a devastating blizzard. Eventually, despite the odds, Canadian forces captured the pivotal ridge and showed the world the true strength of Canadian mettle.

4. Joannie Rochette skates for bronze just days after her mother’s death

Coming into the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, figure skater Joannie Rochette was prepared for everything. Or so she thought.

Just two days before she was set to compete, her mother passed away suddenly at the age of 55. Of course, everyone would’ve understood if she decided not to skate, but she knew that wasn’t what her mother would’ve wanted. Instead, tears streaming down her face, she skated her heart out and blew everyone away. Her performance in the short and long programs earned her both a spot on the podium and in the hearts of Canadians everywhere.

It was one of those moments that shows the true power of the human spirit. Many still tear up at the memory.

3. The Summit Series

At the height of the cold war in 1972, Canada’s best hockey players faced off against the Soviet Union’s in an epic clash. Canada eventually won the eight-game series, but not by much.

It a took a goal by Paul Henderson with just 34 seconds remaining in the eighth and final game to put Canada over the top. The resulting photo of an elated Henderson with the Soviet goalie on his back, puck behind him, was seen around the world.

It also resulted in one of the most famous sound bites of all time, with Foster Hewitt memorably yelling: “He shoots, he scores!” That took Canadian heart.

2. Gold medal moments in Olympic hockey

Obviously, Canada has enjoyed all kinds of memorable Olympic hockey moments, but for a list this short, it’s simply too hard to pick just one.

Whether it’s the women’s gold over the US in 2002 (after losing their last eight head-to-head matchups), or the men’s overtime win in 2010 to take gold at home (a game watched by nearly 80% of Canadians), winning Olympic gold in hockey is something that never fails to bring us together as a nation.

It also takes a great deal of heart.

1. Terry Fox running 5,733 km in 143 days

Terry Fox is a national hero if ever there was one. The unwavering, unrelenting, unbelievable amount of heart that he showed in the face of adversity rallied an entire nation behind his cause. His story has helped raised over $500 million for cancer research and gets Canadians moving every single year.

The ParticipACTION 150 Play List is all about celebrating the ways that Canadians move in honour of our country’s 150th birthday. What do you, your friends or your family members do that displays Canadian heart? Do you shovel snow in -40? Hike the Grouse Grind every summer? Whatever it is, make sure it makes the list at www.participACTION.com/150.

Topics