About the Author

Richard Brignall

Richard Brignall is a freelance writer, former newspaper sport reporter, based in Kenora, Ontario. He has over 130 articles published in magazines like Cottage Life and Outdoor Canada. He helped originate the Recordbooks series at James Lorimer and Company. This series focuses on Canadian sports history and issues like race, gender, disability, and poverty. He has written seven books for this series. Titles include Small Town Glory about the Kenora Thistles winning the Stanley Cup, Forever Champions about the Edmonton Grads women’s basketball team, Big League Dreams about black baseball player Fergie Jenkins, and China Clipper about Chinese-Canadian football player Norm Kwong. 

Books by this Author
Big League Dreams

Big League Dreams

Baseball Hall of Fame's first African-Canadian, Fergie Jenkins
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback eBook
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Big Train

Big Train

The Legendary Ironman of Sport, Lionel Conacher
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Hardcover
tagged : hockey
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Champion for Health

Champion for Health

How Clara Hughes fought depression to win Olympic gold
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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China Clipper

China Clipper

Pro football's first Chinese-Canadian player, Normie Kwong
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover Paperback
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Excerpt

Preface The modern Grey Cup game was born in 1948. The actual game was played the same way as before. But that year the Canadian football championship got a little more exciting. It all centred on the Calgary Stampeders' first appearance in the big game. Before 1948, western teams that challenged eastern teams for the Cup were accompanied by few fans. They watched the game and then went back home. They were just faces in the crowd. The 1948 Grey Cup became a party. Stampeders fans were at the centre of it all. Two hundred and fifty Calgarians boarded a special train headed for Toronto. Easterners thought their rivals didn't have much to celebrate. The Calgarians were just excited their hometown heroes finally made it to the championship. Calgary Alderman Don McKay said it was time to inject some colour into the event. He wanted to take Calgary's greatest celebration, the Calgary Stampede, to the eastern city. Since 1912 the Stampede had brought broncobusters, calf ropers, and bull riders from all over North America to Calgary. The Stampeders' fans donned their favourite clothes. The women wore red silk blouses and white ten-gallon hats. The men dressed in full cowboy gear, including chaps and spurs. They also loaded horses and chuckwagons onto the train. On the day before the Grey Cup game, that special train pulled into Toronto's Union Station. The party in Toronto began as the westerners exited the train whooping and hollering. The group paraded to the Royal York hotel. Men played accordions while couples broke into square dances along the city street. One man carried a lasso, which he used to rope people as they walked by him. People ran out of restaurants and office buildings to watch the strange show. A reporter asked one westerner, "I suppose it's ridiculous to ask who's going to win Saturday?" There was a great cowboy yell. Then his hand slapped down on the reporter's back. The westerner replied, "It certainly is son, it certainly is." Calgary fans planned the first Grey Cup parade through the city streets. Toronto Mayor Hiram McCallum was caught up in the spirit of the moment. He accepted a challenge to ride a horse down Bay Street the morning of the game. The parade started in front of the Royal York. It followed Bay Street with Mayor McCallum riding along on a horse. On the steps of Toronto's City Hall they stopped and enjoyed a pancake breakfast. Then the parade of horses, chuckwagons, and 250 brightly dressed people headed for the football stadium. The Grey Cup, East-West clash, started at 1:45 p.m. The Stampeders football players entered the big game quietly. They were not part of the celebration put on by their fellow Calgarians. They didn't want anything to take away their focus on the game. Those Calgary fans transformed the Grey Cup into an important event. People now come from across the country to be part of the celebration. The parade and pancake breakfast are rituals that continue each year. The 1948 Grey Cup game was important for another reason. For one Stampeders player that game was more than a western party. It was the end of a history-making season. Nineteen-year-old rookie Normie Kwong became the first Chinese-Canadian professional football player that year. He was more than an oddity who was quickly forgotten. He became one of the greatest players in league history. Normie always saw himself as just a football player. But he played for more than glory on the football field. He represented the hopes and dreams of Chinese Canadians across Canada.

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Fearless

Fearless

The Story of George Chuvalo, Canada's Greatest Boxer
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover Paperback
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Forever Champions

Forever Champions

The Enduring Legacy of the Record-setting Edmonton Grads
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Hardcover
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Forgotten Heroes

WinnipegÕs Hockey Heritage
edition:Paperback
tagged : hockey
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Small Town Glory

Small Town Glory

The story of the Kenora Thistles' remarkable quest for the Stanley Cup
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Hardcover
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Summit Series '72

Summit Series '72

Eight games that put Canada on top of world hockey
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover eBook
tagged : hockey, history
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