TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 20, 2012) - On behalf of the Honourable Peter Kent, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, the Honourable Peter Van Loan, Member of Parliament for York-Simcoe and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, today recognized the Grey Cup as an event of national historic significance. Minister Van Loan made the announcement during a Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque-unveiling ceremony at Varsity Centre in Toronto.
"I am proud to participate in the commemoration of the Grey Cup, which for a century has been a defining and unifying part of being Canadian," said Minister Van Loan. "As we mark the 100th Grey Cup game, we celebrate a uniquely Canadian event that brings us together to celebrate our brand of football, our country, and the bond between them."
The Grey Cup championship game has crowned a national champion for Canada's distinctive brand of football, which emerged from a strictly amateur, rugby-like sport developed in the last half of the 19th century and evolved into the highly exciting sport played in communities, schools and professionally across Canada at the dawn of the 21st century. On 25 November 2012, the 100th Grey Cup game will be played in Toronto. Donated in 1909 by Governor General Albert Grey, 4th Earl Grey, the Grey Cup trophy was first won by the University of Toronto and is now awarded to the champions of the Canadian Football League.
Known for its festival flavour and celebratory events that precede the championship game, the Grey Cup brings Canadians together in the host city and across the nation. Today, millions of Canadians follow Grey Cup coverage, making it one of Canada's biggest television sporting events of the year.
"Our Government is committed to celebrating events in Canadian history that are of importance to our national character and unique identity," added Minister Kent. "Designating the Grey Cup as a national historic event highlights its significance and underlines its importance in our history, which will be passed on to future generations."
"It is an honour to host this commemoration of the 100th Grey Cup game," said David Naylor, President of the University of Toronto. "We have a long and proud history associated with Canadian football and the Grey Cup. In fact, the first three Grey Cups were won by the University of Toronto beginning in 1909 - so Varsity Stadium is a most fitting place for this celebration."
"We are proud of the fact that the Grey Cup trophy is presented to the champions of our league, but we are prouder still that the Grey Cup has evolved into a true Canadian icon, symbolic of Canadians' ability to come together and celebrate what is truly and uniquely ours," said Mark Cohon, Commissioner of the Canadian Football League. "We are thrilled that the Government of Canada is officially recognizing in this way the Grey Cup and its place in Canada's culture and history. This makes our celebration of the upcoming 100th Grey Cup championship game all the more special."
The new designation will be included in Canada's system of national historic sites, persons and events on the recommendation of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC).
The HSMBC was established in 1919 and is supported by Parks Canada. It advises the Minister of the Environment regarding the national significance of places, persons and events that have marked Canada's history. On behalf of the people of Canada, Parks Canada manages a nationwide network that makes up a rich tapestry of Canada's historical heritage and offers the public opportunities for real and inspiring discoveries.
For additional information, please see the accompanying backgrounder at www.parkscanada.gc.ca under Media Room.
The Grey Cup
Since 1909, the Grey Cup championship game has crowned a national champion for Canada's distinctive brand of football, which emerged from a strictly amateur, rugby-like sport developed in the last half of the 19th century and evolved into the highly exciting sport played in communities, schools and professionally across Canada at the dawn of the 21st century. Initially confined to eastern Canadian teams, the Grey Cup game, as it came to be known, soon evolved into a truly national championship with an East versus West format. Traditionally contested at the end of November, the Grey Cup has produced such memorable games as the "Mud Bowl," the "Fog Bowl," and the "Ice Bowl." Since 1958, the Grey Cup game has been exclusively contested by teams belonging to the Canadian Football League, the second oldest, continuously operating gridiron football league in North America, and the highest level of competition in Canada. On 25 November 2012, the 100th Grey Cup game will be played in Toronto.
The Grey Cup trophy was donated to Canadian football by Governor General Albert Grey, the 4th Earl Grey. The trophy was first won by the University of Toronto, which became the first Dominion championship team to be awarded the Cup when it defeated the Parkdale Canoe Club on 4 December 1909 in Toronto. The team, however, famously left the field empty-handed because the trophy was not yet ready. Several months later, a sterling silver chalice, crafted by the Toronto jewellers Henry Birks and Sons, was finally presented to its first champions, in March 1910. Since then, the Grey Cup trophy has been the symbol of excellence in Canadian football, awarded to the sport's national champions.
The Grey Cup has become known for its festival flavour and the celebratory events that precede the championship game. This tradition was inaugurated by fans from Calgary who travelled to Toronto in 1948 to cheer the Stampeders to their first Grey Cup championship (12-7 over the Ottawa Rough Riders). It has continued to grow and in 2012 there are expected to be 10 days of activities and events leading up to the actual championship game. Over the years, media coverage has expanded and attendance has grown. From fewer than 4,000 spectators in 1909, the Grey Cup game has filled major Canadian stadiums since the Second World War, establishing its attendance record of 68,318 fans at Montreal's Olympic Stadium in 1977. Radio coverage began in 1928, while live national and television broadcasts were inaugurated in 1952. Today, millions of Canadians follow Grey Cup coverage, making it one of Canada's biggest television sporting events of the year.