Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada

November 10, 2015 14:51 ET

Library and Archives Canada Acquires Iconic Items From 1948 RCAF Flyers Olympic Hockey Gold Medal Team

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 10, 2015) - Library and Archives Canada (LAC) acquires the Alexander Gardner "Sandy" Watson collection.

The collection provides an important visual and written documentary record of the activities and success of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Flyers, a hockey team hastily assembled to represent Canada at the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

The collection includes over 200 photographs, telegrams, scrapbooks, programs, medals, and other records documenting the team's activities and games at the Winter Olympics, their subsequent European tour, as well as the parade and reception honouring them when they returned to Ottawa in April 1948.

The Flyers' gold medal win at the 1948 Winter Olympics is considered one of the greatest moments in Canadian sports history.

Ottawa sports historian, Mr. Jim McAuley, donated the collection; it had been given to him by Mrs. Patricia Watson, widow of Sandy Watson. The material is currently being arranged and described and should be available for public consultation in early 2016.

Quick Facts

  • When the Montreal Royals, 1947 Allan Cup champions, turned down the offer to represent Canada at the Winter Olympics, the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) faced a dilemma.
  • Dr. Watson, an Ottawa-based medical officer in the RCAF, proposed a team made up of enlisted members of the RCAF and convinced the CAHA.
  • The Flyers were outplayed in their exhibition games in Canada and were labelled a disgrace to the country and considered long shots to win a game at the Winter Olympics.
  • Under the guidance of head coach Frank Boucher, the Flyers went undefeated during the Olympic tournament en route to winning the gold medal.
  • After the war, Dr. Watson became one of Canada's eminent ophthalmologists.
  • He became a member of the Order of Canada in 1988.
  • He passed away on December 28, 2003.

Quotes

"This acquisition is another example of the importance of hockey in the lives of Canadians. At a time when the world was still reeling from the Second World War, the RCAF Flyers, against all odds, shocked the world by winning hockey gold. We are thrilled to make this documentary heritage accessible and available to all Canadians."

Dr. Guy Berthiaume

Librarian and Archivist of Canada

"I can think of no better place where this collection of truly iconic items, from one of the greatest sports moments in Canadian history, can be preserved and cared for than at Library and Archives Canada. It gives me great pleasure to share these items with hockey fans here at home and around the world."

Jim McAuley

Ottawa Sports Historian, donor of collection

About Library and Archives Canada

The mandate of Library and Archives Canada is to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations, and to be a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, thereby contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada. Library and Archives Canada also facilitates co-operation among communities involved in the acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge, and serves as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions. Stay connected with Library and Archives Canada on Twitter (@LibraryArchives), Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.

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