Celebrating Canadian Women in Sport

cropped-group-shotHuge thanks to all the ladies that have helped me over the years – photos put in no particular order 🙂


Catherine & her well-dressed boarding date

It’s International Women’s Day (March 8th)! I’ve decided to do a brief celebration of Canadian women in outdoor sport. Let’s remember, for many, many, many years, women were unable to participate in most sports. Partly due to our delicate and fragile nature of our inner bits, I would argue it was more due to the social unacceptability of women engaging in such rough & tumble activities (Oh! The horrors of us acting unladylike!).

Did you know that with the advent of smaller bikes (versus the comical pennyfarthing), cycling actually furthered women’s dress reforms, allowing women to wear split skirts (poofy pants?) and even shorter skirts to accommodate the cycling motion. Although some doctors were encouraging women to engage in moderate cycling, others were deeming it inappropriate for fear of harm to the uterus or – worse – that cycling may induce an orgasm *gasp*! Where can I get an orgasm-inducing bike?

Teresa Bio

Teresa & Maddie = dynamic duo!

Here are a few highlights of incredible Canadian women and their feats:

Women were intimately involved with the formation of the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC), as founders members, including the first Canadian-born woman climber Henrietta Hettie Tuzo. From its inception, the ACC actively welcomed women, including encouraging them to wear the more “masculine” attire of knickerbockers and sweaters.

In 1923, Myrtle Alice Cook is credited as helping to establish the Toronto Ladies Athletic Club, the 1st club of its kind in Canada.

Winnifred Winnie Frances Roach-Leuszler has a list of swimming accomplishments and other sporting events that would take an entire blog to review. On August 16th, 1951, she became the 1st Canadian women to swim the English Channel.

Anne Heggtveit became the youngest participant to win the Holmenkollen Giant Slalom in 1954 and, at the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics, became the 1st non-European to win the giant slalom and combined women’s alpine.

An accomplished athlete in her own right, Debbie Van Kiekebelt is celebrated as being Canada’s 1st female sportscaster, working with CityTV and NBC.

It may have taken until 1981, but Abbigail Abby Hoffman was the 1st woman to be appointed on the executive committed of the Canadian Olympic Committee.

At 17, Sharon Adele Wood became the 1st woman from the Western Hemisphere to summit Mt. Everest (1986)…at 17!!

Amongst numerous other swim credits, in 1988, Vicki Keith-Munro was the 1st person to swim all 5 Great Lakes.

In 1986, Gail E. Greenough upset the male-dominated equestrian world by being the 1st woman, and 1st North American, to win the World Show Jumping Championships.

Kerrin Lee-Gartner was Canada’s 1st gold medalist in downhill skiing in the 1990 Olympics in France.

Claudia Kerckhoff-van Wijk dominated the white-water kayaking world from 1974-1984, holding the Championship spot.

Canada’s 1st world record title for barefoot waterskiing goes to Beth Leboff, in 1992.

Clara Hughes, with her multiple Olympic feats, brought home Canada’s 1st Olympic medals in cycling in over 100 years.

Urszula Torkarska is the 1st Canadian woman to have summited the world’s 7 highest peaks.

Lauren Woolstencroft is the 1st Canadian to bring home more than 3 gold medals at a Paralympic game (2010): Yeah, she brought home 5 golds in a variety of ski sports.

Although this is way too long in happening, in 2015, Sharon and Shirley Firth are the first indigenous women to be inducted to the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.

And if this list doesn’t get you inspired, check out Nike’s latest ad encouraging us all to #DreamCrazier

Want more amazing female athletes? This list was just a small, teeny selection of Canadian feats: http://famouscanadianwomen.com/famous%20firsts/sports%20personalities.htm

Check out the Canadian Encyclopedia entry on women in sport in Canada: https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/the-history-of-canadian-women-in-sport

Interested in learning more about the general status of women in Canadian sport? Check out Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS): https://www.caaws.ca

Carey & Paco; Carey trained for the Broken Goat 25km. Read about it here.

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