British Columbia boasts a rich and vibrant history of sports, and Vancouver Sun and Province photojournalists have had a front-row seat to the action.
No one knows more about those iconic images than Kate Bird, the professional librarian and longtime Vancouver Sun archivist who has put together a new book called Magic Moments in BC Sports: A Century in Photos. The eclectic selection of stunning photographs in the book includes several North Shore athletes who have competed at the highest levels, set and broken records, and inspired a legion of fans.
We contacted Bird to share a few of her favourite photos and craft a list of 10 North Shore sports stories, in no particular order, that caught her attention as she was gathering material for the new book.
Chief Dan George
Chief Dan George, of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in North Vancouver, was a veteran canoe racer who competed with members of his family on several championship teams. In 1960, George lobbied Highways Minister Phil Gaglardi to sponsor canoe races at the opening celebrations for the new Second Narrows Bridge, where he hoped to compete in a canoe he carved from a single giant cedar tree. George is famous for his performance in the 1970 film Little Big Man, which garnered him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Vancouver Sun Free Ski School
The first Vancouver Sun Free Ski School on Grouse Mountain, initiated by the Cromie family, who owned Grouse Mountain and the Vancouver Sun newspaper at the time, began in January 1950. The program offered free ski lessons by Grouse Mountain ski instructors. Three classes were held each Saturday over ten weeks, with a free bus provided to participants from the downtown bus terminal. Thousands of Lower Mainland people of all ages attended the free classes from 1950 to 1965 and learned to ski.
On May 27, 1959, before a record crowd of 19,000 at the District Inter-High School Track Meet, North Vancouver’s 18-year-old Harry Jerome ran the 220-yard race in 21.9 seconds, breaking the Canadian high school record set by Vancouver’s Percy Williams in 1928. Jerome overcame a potential career-ending injury to win bronze in the 100-metres at the 1964 Olympics, and gold at the 1966 British Empire and 1967 Pan Am Games. Jerome’s legacy is commemorated with a Jack Harman sculpture in Stanley Park and the annual Harry Jerome Track Classic.
Fifteen-year-old Valerie Jerome of North Vancouver won the junior girls high jump at the 48th annual Vancouver and District Inter-High School Track Meet in 1959, and later that summer won a bronze medal on the 4x100-metre relay team at the Pan Am Games in Chicago. In 1960, Jerome competed, alongside her brother Harry Jerome, at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. During her 35-year teaching career, Valerie was a track and field official at Olympic, Commonwealth and World Championship competitions and worked for the advancement of Black Canadian Studies.
North Vancouver figure skater Karen Magnussen was dubbed “Canada’s Sweetheart” after she won Canada’s only medal, a silver, at the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. The six-time Canadian champion was named Canada’s female athlete of the year in 1971 and 1972. In 1973, after Magnussen captured gold at the 1973 World Championships in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, her Vancouver homecoming celebrations included a 21st birthday party at Pacific Coliseum, where she skated for the crowd of 16,000, was presented with a huge birthday cake, and was showered with gifts.
On September 11, 1976, Canada’s first skateboard contest, the 1st Annual B.C. Skateboard Championships, were held in Stanley Park. In 1978, North Vancouver’s Ted Hartley, captain of the British Columbia skateboard team, performed a slalom run at Stanley Park. Hartley was demonstrating his skills and trying to find prospective members for the team in what was then the new sport of competitive skateboarding.
North Shore Indians lacrosse team
In 1985, the North Shore Indians box lacrosse team, including Barry Powles, captain Byron Joseph, Todd Semeniuk, and Lance Baker, defeated the Orangeville Ontario Northmen at Ladner Arena in double overtime to capture the Canadian Senior B lacrosse championship. The President’s Cup championship banner commemorating their win was to hang at the North Vancouver Recreation Centre, where the team played their home games. The team is still an active member of the West Coast Senior Lacrosse Association.
North Vancouver’s Maëlle Ricker won gold (1999, 2006) and bronze (2007) in snowboard cross at the Winter X Games, and bronze (2005) in snowboard cross at the World Championships. At the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, competing minutes away from her childhood home, Ricker won gold in snowboard cross, becoming the first Canadian woman to win an Olympic gold medal on home soil. Ricker went on to win bronze at the 2012 Winter X Games and gold at the 2012 World Championships.
North Vancouver’s Lauren Woolstencroft, born missing her left arm below the elbow and both legs below the knee, began skiing competitively at age 14. She won two gold and a bronze at the 2002 Paralympics in Salt Lake City, and a gold and silver at the 2006 Paralympics in Turin. At the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver, Woolstencroft won five gold medals in alpine skiing, a record for any Canadian Winter Paralympian or Olympian. Woolstencroft was inducted into the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame in 2015.
North Vancouver’s Manuel Osborne-Paradis, who grew up racing for the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, is the first Canadian to win both a World Cup downhill and World Cup super-G. In 2004, he won silver in super-G at the Junior World Championships. He competed at four Winter Olympics (2006-2018), collected three World Cups wins, and took part in eight World Championships (2005-2019), winning bronze in super-G at the 2017 World Championships on his 33rd birthday.