March 15, 1827, King's College - the precursor to the University of
Toronto - was granted its royal charter by King George IV. Throughout
2002, U of T celebrated 175 years of Great Minds. As part of the
celebration, the U of T website featured excerpts from The
University of Toronto: A History, written by Martin Friedland, University
Professor and Professor Emeritus of Law at U of T.
The 1920s were
good years for sports and culture at the University. During the decade,
writes Bruce Kidd, an Olympic runner and now dean of the faculty of
physical education and health, "U of T athletes - both men and
women - captured virtually every honour they sought."
The men won Allan
and Grey Cup championships in hockey and football, Olympic medals in
hockey and rowing, and intercollegiate championships in every sport
in which there was competition. The women won the very first intercollegiate
championships ever held in Canada - in basketball and hockey - and,
according to Kidd, "contributed significantly to the legitimation
of energetic sport for women in the community."
Olympic gold medal hockey team of 1928... the U of T alumni Grads.
Goalie "Stonewall" Sullivan, winner of three Olympic shutouts,
is the rightmost on the bottom row.
Kidd observed that
not only were they excellent athletes, but "some of the most prominent
student athletes went on to distinguished careers in medicine, law,
journalism, and the public service." Hockey, football, and, to
a lesser extent, rowing were the most popular spectator sports at the
They were called 'the
greatest hockey team ever seen in Europe.'
There is no question
that the men's hockey teams produced in the 1920s were outstanding.
They won every intercollegiate title from 1920 until 1929. In 1921,
they won the Allan Cup as the best amateur team in Canada, defeating
Brandon, Manitoba. In 1925, the Varsity team was again in the Allan
Cup finals, but lost to Port Arthur. Virtually the same players made
up the 1926 Varsity team, and it was expected they would easily capture
the intercollegiate title against Queen's and McGill - which they did
- and possibly win another Allan Cup.
At the end of the
season, their intercollegiate dominance was demonstrated once again
- in total they had scored 42 goals and allowed only 13. Toronto then
played against the American intercollegiate champions, Dartmouth, at
the new Madison Square Garden, easily winning the international intercollegiate
In the Olympics they
shutout Sweden, Switzerland, and Britain on their way to the gold.
The Toronto team
once again would face Port Arthur for the Allan Cup. Joseph "Stonewall"
Sullivan, a member of U of T's Sports Hall of Fame, was goalie. A medical
student, he later became a distinguished ear, nose, and throat specialist,
a member of the University's Board of Governors, and, in 1957, a member
of the Canadian Senate. Captain Lou Hudson, Hugh Plaxton, "Red"
Porter and Dave Trottier were leading scorers for Toronto. It would
be the best of three games. The first two were played in Montreal. Port
Arthur won the first, and Toronto the second. The final game was played
in Toronto at the Mutual Street Arena. Varsity Arena would not be completed
until later that year.
Plaxton scored a
goal within the first fifteen seconds. At the end of the first period,
Varsity was ahead 3-0. At the end of regulation time, however, the teams
were tied 3-3, and still tied after three ten-minute overtime periods.
There would have to be another deciding game. Once again, the game ended
in a tie - 2-2 - but with four minutes left in the second overtime period,
Port Arthur beat Sullivan and won the cup. "It was," said
Torontonensis, "the greatest Championship series ever played in
Most of the members
of the team graduated that year and formed themselves into the Varsity
Grads, which competed in the 1928 Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Observers called them "the greatest hockey team ever seen in Europe."
It easily won the gold medal. No other team in the finals came close.
It beat Sweden 11-0, Switzerland 13-0, and Great Britain 14-0.
|U of T's
women's hockey team did well at this time, too: they won all but
one of the provincial university championships from 1922 until the
end of the decade.
of T's hockey teams have long played at Varsity Arena. Students are
voting next month on a plan to redevelop the arena and Varsity Stadium
into a new sports facility. Read
more about it here.
more about the 1928
Olympics, including an interesting anecdote about U of T Olympic assistant coach Harold Ballard, here.
about the University of Toronto Press.