Oh Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
In celebration of the Toronto Raptors NBA Finals win, what better way to pay tribute to our maple syrup loving, hockey stick toting brothers from the north than with a good old fashioned list celebrating everything Canadian, eh?
From basketball to curling to a stirring national anthem, Canada’s sporting history runs as deep as Drake’s lyrics.
Here’s a look at some of Canada’s top sporting moments.
Joe Carter’s 1993 World Series Walk-Off
Part of a four-player swap with the Padres that sent himself and Roberto Alomar to the Blue Jays in exchange for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez, Joe Carter played an integral role in Toronto’s first-ever World Series win in 1992.
A year after recording the final out in Game 6, the Jays found themselves back in the Fall Classic, only this time against the Philadelphia Phillies. With a 3-2 series lead, Carter stepped up to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning with future Hall of Famers Ricky Henderson and Paul Molitor on base trailing 6-5. What happened next would eventually go down in baseball folklore. Carter smacked a walkoff three-run homer deep to left field, earning the Jays their second consecutive World Series win.
Golden Goal Crowns Golden Boy
Hockey and Canada go together like Terrance and Phillip, and so does a good old-fashioned rivalry against their yankee rivals from the south.
Canada and the United States found themselves in the Men’s Ice Hockey Gold Medal final for the seventh time at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. After a thrilling three periods of regulation hockey, the pair found themselves all square with two goals apiece heading into sudden death overtime.
By this point in his career Sidney Crosby was already a Stanley Cup Champion, an Art Ross Trophy winner and a Hart Memorial Trophy winner. The only piece of hardware absent on Crosby’s resume was Olympic Gold, but it only took the Future Hall of Famer seven minutes and forty seconds to find the back of the net to earn Canada their ninth Men’s Ice Hockey Gold Medal.
Kawhi So Serious?
Injuries and numerous disagreements with trainers, coaches and the front office eventually led to Kawhi Leonard’s departure from San Antonio as he was traded to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for long-time fan-favourite DeMar DeRozan (and a host of others).
At the time it was a controversial trade, one that disgruntled both players as Leonard headed North to face the unknown. Nearly a year later, General Manager Bobby Webster’s bold move paid off brilliantly. Kawhi hit the game-winning buzzer-beater in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers, a three-point shot from the corner that bounced four times off the rim before dropping in.
Leonard went on to make his third Finals appearance averaging a career-high 26.6 points per-game.
Mike Weir – The Original Lefty
Not only is Mike Weir the only current Canadian to have ever won The Masters, he’s also a freak of nature.
Weir, who is right-handed in day-to-day life, became the first ever player to win The Masters playing left-handed. The ambidextrous Weir won the 2003 Masters in thrilling playoff fashion over Len Mattiace, ending Canada’s 65-year drought at Augusta. Weir was later inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
The Montreal Screw Job
Okay, so this moment wasn’t great for Bret Hart, but it brought plenty of excitement to the WWF for all the wrong reasons.
The year was 1997, the glory days of the Monday Night Wars. Current World Heavyweight Champion Bret Hart had previously won the title at Summerslam, setting up a blockbuster match against Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series before he was set to depart to the rival WCW brand.
Unlike other matches in the scripted world of professional wrestling, Hart and Michael’s feud was all too real. The pair never saw eye to eye outside of the ring, and when Hart was booked to lose the title to Michaels, Vince McMahon got involved.
The plan was to screw Hart out of the title, ordering referee Earl Hebner to ring the bell as soon as Michaels executed Bret’s very own sharpshooter – a submission Hart never tapped out to. The result saw the end of Hart in the WWE, spawning years of bad blood between himself, McMahon and Michaels. The trio later reconciled in 2006 before Hart returned to WWE television in 2010.
Be Good Johnny
Cricket nuts will hold fond memories of the 2003 Canadian cricket team, most notably all-rounder John Davison, who smacked a century against the West Indies off 67 balls in the World Cup – a record at the time.
Davison was phenomenal belting 6 sixes and 8 fours to finish with 111 runs off 76 total balls. A week later he scored 75 runs and took three wickets against New Zealand on the way to Canada’s first-round exit.
The World’s Fastest Man
Donovan Bailey was originally born in Jamaica, but Canada has rightfully claimed him as their own after representing the Maple Leaf at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Bailey recorded a time of 9.84 seconds to win gold in the 100m sprint, which at the time was a world record. Bailey went on to challenge Michael Johnson in a 150m sprint in the Toronto SkyDome, a race he won in the time of 14.99 seconds.
A ruptured achilles tendon a year later ended Bailey’s career, but he had successfully restored Canada’s Olympic image following Ben Johnson’s doping scandal eight years earlier.
A Roughride for Saskatchewan
You might not know it, but the 2009 Grey Cup was just as exciting as the Super Bowl.
Up 17-3 at half time, the Saskatchewan Roughriders looked home and hosed for their fourth ever Grey Cup win. Things changed in the second half though, as the Montreal Alouettes stormed all the way back scoring a touchdown in the third quarter before piling on 18 points in the fourth.
The play of the game came with time expired as the Roughriders were caught with too many men on the field during Montreal’s game-winning field goal attempt. The flag moved the Alouettes 10-yards closer, setting up Damon Duval’s game-winning 33-yard field goal to complete the remarkable comeback.
A Dunk Heard Around the World
Back when the Dunk Contest was, y’know, good, Vince Carter did some special things with a basketball and believe it or not… zero props!
Carter has long been known as the Slam Dunk king, and it all started with his dazzling 360 windmill dunk in the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest. Many have tried and many have failed to replicate Carter’s efforts, making the now 42-year-old veteran the undisputed king.
Schmirler the Curler
It wouldn’t be a Top Canadian Sporting Moments list without a little curling, would it?
Sandra Schmirler curled her way to Olympic glory in 1998 earning Canada’s first ever curling Gold Medal. Born in Saskatchewan, Schmirler was a three-time Canadian Curling champion and a three-time World Curling champion, sadly passing away from cancer in 2000.
North NBA Champions
The Raptors found themselves sitting second in the East with a 37-16 record by the All-Star break, going on to lose only eight more games before making the playoffs.
Toronto opened the season at $41.00 odds to win the NBA Championship, firming dramatically into $8.00 by December. The Raptors took care of the Orlando Magic in the first round, and after Kawhi Leonard’s series-ending buzzer-beater over the Sixers in the Conference Semis, the first seed Bucks were no match in the Conference Finals losing two games to four.
The Raptors, who joined the league with the Memphis Grizzlies in 1995, were through to their first-ever Finals series to face a Warriors side looking for their third straight title. Six games, a Kevin Durant injury and a few controversial Drake moments later, the Raptors earned their first ever NBA Championship winning 4-2 in the final game at Oracle Arena.
Kawhi Leonard, who averaged 28.5 points during the Finals, was crowned MVP, and perhaps more importantly, the true King of the North.