The Canadian Museum of History has scored a massive collection of sports artifacts, with a handful of memorabilia now on display for the next year.
Collection features over 100,000 sports artifacts and memorabilia
Check out the new sports collection at The Canadian Museum of History
Featured VideoThe Canadian Museum of History is now housing thousands of items from Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame collection, including historic jerseys, sports equipment and memorabilia.
The Canadian Museum of History has scored a massive collection of sports artifacts and a handful of memorabilia is now on display for the next year.
The museum in Gatineau, Que., acquired more than 100,000 items from Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in Calgary, which closed its doors to visitors at the start of the pandemic and never reopened.
“It is the biggest acquisition the museum has ever made in its history,” said Chloe Ouellet-Riendeau, assistant curator of sport history at the Canadian Museum of History.
In 2021, the federal government allocated $5 million for the history museum to acquire and preserve the collection from the hall of fame.
The entire collection has now arrived at its new home, but staff are still working through the items to check the inventory and see if any require restoration.
Now, 10 of those artifacts will be on display at the museum in a special exhibit, Canada’s Got Game: Highlights from the Order of Sport Collection.
“It was a really hard choice to wind it down to only these objects,” Ouellet-Riendeau said, adding it’s because of limited space at the museum.
“It was just to choose stories that are unique, try to represent everybody because we are such a diverse country. I mean, we have to represent different communities, different genders, different stories,” she said of the selection process.
A chance to reflect on sports history
One of the items currently on display at the museum is a bright red parka with a wolf fur trim, handsewn by 12 seamstresses from Nunavut and worn by the members of Canada’s 1972 Winter Olympic team.
The one on display belonged to Jim Hunter, an alpine skier who represented Canada and wore the parka during the 1972 opening ceremony in Sapporo, Japan.
Only members of the Olympic team received a parka, and the coats weren’t sold to the public.
“The historical value of these objects are so stunning and of course, things are always lost to history. So it makes it sort of more special and rare when we do have the opportunity to showcase these things,” said Sarah Barnes, the curator of sports and leisure at the Canadian Museum of History.
Inuit craft parkas for 1972 winter Olympians
Featured VideoThe Canadian Olympic team departs for Sapporo, Japan clad in coats made by residents of Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit).
A soccer jersey on display has an exciting Ottawa connection, Barnes said.
The jersey belonged to Charmaine Hooper, who wore it in the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Hooper was one of the original members of Canada’s national women’s soccer team when it first formed in 1986.
The torch from the 1936 Berlin Olympics is also on display, from the first time the historic torch relay was ever held.
“There’s always a lot of excitement and nostalgia around the torch and it’s a tradition that people sometimes think stretches way back, but it actually only started in 1936,” Barnes said, adding the relay was part of Nazi propaganda at the time.
“One of the things that’s really exciting about sport is that there’s a chance to challenge stereotypes and prejudice and so it was actually athletes themselves, along with other groups, were able to push back against some of those ideas during the games themselves,” she added.
Barnes said the items in the collection bring us back to a time when sport looked different to what it is today, and are a way to reflect on its change and continuity.
Collection won’t be hidden away
Sports history is Canadian history, said Ouellet-Riendeau.
“There’s something in sport for all of us, I think, because there’s the stories behind the events, the moments, the people that you can relate to,” she said.
Through the sports collection, the museum’s curators are hoping to document Canada’s sports history, and to share forgotten or underrepresented stories.
The museum is in the process of putting the collection online, and is photographing the thousands of items and doing necessary research. There’s also a potential to loan certain items to museums across the country, Ouellet-Riendeau added.
“It cannot be kept hidden away, that is not the goal. It’s to make it known to everybody.”
Ottawa Morning8:36History museum scores Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame collection
Featured VideoThis week, 10 artifacts went up on display at the Canadian Museum of History. Curator Sarah Barnes gave us a preview.
With files from CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning and Robyn Miller