Arts & Culture(Archives)
Moments in Time - The History & Legacy of Sport in Wood Buffalo
Sharpen your skates, lace up your trainers, pick up a racquet, put on your helmet or strap on your skis because Wood Buffalo has plenty of athletic and recreational activities to challenge virtually any kind of sports enthusiast year-round. There are endless opportunities – competitive and recreational - to hone skills, test abilities, seek adventure or push you to the limit.
Wood Buffalo has a rich sports history and the legacy continues to grow. There are those who got the ball rolling – literally in some cases - and those who carry on the tradition and break new ground. Sports have always been an important part of the community, reflecting its values and embodying its big spirit – helping people to lead, work together, learn self-discipline, build character, confidence and self-esteem, enjoy camaraderie, win with humility and lose with grace, and just plain have fun. They develop both personal and social skills.
Indeed, over the years the Municipality has been the proud host of many events that have drawn athletes and sports lovers from beyond the region, such as the: 1985 Alberta Summer Games; 1992 Alberta Winter Games; 1995 Canadian Triathlon Championships; 2003 Alberta 55 Plus Summer Games; 2004 Arctic Winter Games; 2013 Canadian Junior Curling Championships, and the 2014 Grand Slam of Curling. Fort McMurray was also one of the stops in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics Torch Relay
It is for good reason that Mayor Melissa Blake declared 2015 “The Year of Sport in Wood Buffalo.” The Municipality is the hosting the: Western Canada Summer Games; Canadian Ringette Championships; Syncrude Boreal Open; Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship; Grand Slam of Curling Syncrude Elite 10; Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup, and the Northern Kickoff
“Sports inspire our youth to be more active. It promotes teamwork, encourages fair play and provides positive role models. It brings families and the whole community together,” says Ian Allan, Manager of Sports and Venues for the 2015 Western Canada Games, who is also an Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Hall of Fame Inductee.
Be it a passion or pastime, you will find it in Wood Buffalo – and you will also discover champions and legends, individuals and teams who have made outstanding contributions. A visit to the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame will keep fans occupied for hours. There are so many to choose from but consider two – Phil Meagher and Wayne Bourque.
Alberta’s ‘Top Long Distance Runner’
Long-time resident and avid runner Phil Meagher has won 46 marathons and a silver medal in the 1991 Canadian National Marathon Championships. He holds the title of “Alberta’s Top Long Distance Runner” and was inducted into the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 2009. After hip surgery, Meagher traded trainers for cross-country skis; he ranked third in the Alberta Cup Masters Series during the 2012-2013 ski season.
“Fort McMurray has a very rich sports history and I am very fortunate to be a part of that,” says Meagher. “Sports give people an active lifestyle and Wood Buffalo, with its rivers, lakes, running trails and hills, is a very good place to be active. Plus, we have great recreational facilities such as MacDonald Island, where athletes can train year-round.”
Meager is not just a stellar athlete but a phenomenal citizen, living by the motto that “the more you give to your community, the better place it will be for you and for those who come after you.” He has applied the lessons he has learned in his sports career to his life.
Meagher volunteers for numerous boards, committees and fundraisers. He helped create the local High School Challenge Cup, a year-long series of athletic events involving the four local senior high schools, and is a hockey official at the Junior A level and a coach for many sports. In 2011, Meagher received the Keyano College Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award; in 2012, the Government of Canada presented him with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
‘Flurry from McMurray’
Legendary Fort McMurray boxer Wayne Bourque was born in 1959 to Métis parents. Growing up before multiculturalism was even a concept he found his fists at the local hockey rink, silencing racist taunts from opposing players. He joined the Clearwater Amateur Boxing Club and quickly proved a natural in the ring.
Bourque won his first tournament when he was 13 - the prestigious 1973 Northwest Pacific Golden Gloves in Seattle. A year later, he took the Canadian Amateur Boxing Association junior national title in the 80-pound weight class. He followed with silver in 1974 at 85 pounds and then bronze in 1975 at 90 pounds.
Bourque, known as “The Flurry from Fort McMurray,” became one of the premiere amateur boxers in Canada, winning three North American Native Boxing titles, four provincial championships and four Golden Glove championships in his respective weight divisions. He also took home the bronze at the senior nationals in 1983, which gave him a shot at representing Canada at the 1984 Olympics. Just before the trials, however, he injured his right knee while skiing and had to retire from the ring. His amateur boxing career: 130 fights with an estimated 109 wins and 21 defeats.
Bourque and his family now live in Toronto, where he owns a successful boxing gym. In 2009, at the age of 50, he taped up the gloves for one final fight in the Ringside World Championships - the world’s largest amateur boxing tournament for boxers ranging from 35 up to 78 years. He went toe-to-toe against 46-year-old Guili Coix of Chicago. It was a close match but Bourque triumphed.
Wood Buffalo Hall of Fame
Learn more at the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame (located adjacent to the entrance of the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre) about the many local sports groups, associations, volunteers, sponsors and athletes who have made a difference in the community. It honours the history of sport in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, especially the individuals and teams who have achieved extraordinary distinction in the development and advancement of sport. Each year, the Hall of Fame inducts up to four honorees selected from various categories. For further information about the region’s remarkable sports history visit www.woodbuffalosports.com
TAKE YOUR PICK:
- Adventure: Fort McMurray Adventure Club
- Arm Wrestling: Fort McMurray Arm Wrestling
- Badminton: Fort McMurray Junior Badminton Club
- Baseball: Fort McMurray Minor Baseball
- Basketball: C.J. Phillips Frozen Hoops All Star Game,
- Boxing: Sweet Science Boxing Inc.
- Canoe Club: Borealis Canoe Club
- Cheerleading: Fort McMurray Cheerleaders,
- Chess: Fort McMurray Chess Club
- Curling: Oilsands Northern Alberta Curling Association
- Cycling: Fort McMurray Bicycle Club,
- Darts: Fort McMurray Mixed Darts
- Dirt Riders: McMurray Dirt Riders Club
- Disc Sports: Fort McMurray Disc Sports
- Fencing: Fort McMurray Fencing Club
- Figure Skating: Noralta Figure Skating Club
- Fish & Game: Fort McMurray Fish & Game Association
- Football: Fort McMurray Football League - Trappers Football - Fort McMurray Monarchs
- Golf: Fort McMurray Golf Club - Miskanaw Golf Club
- Gymnastics: Norfort Gymnastics Club
- Hash House Harriers: Fort McMurray Hash House Harriers
- Hockey: Gentlemens
- Hockey, Minor: Fort McMurray Minor Hockey Association
- Hockey, Junior A: Fort McMurray Oil Barons,
- Women’s Hockey: Junior B Alumni
- Horses: Clearwater Horse Club Fort McMurray
- Hunting: Fort McMurray Gaming Association
- Jet Boaters: Fort McMurray Jet Ski
- Jiu Jitsu: Disciples Training Center Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA Academy
- Karate: Fort McMurray Shotokan Karate Association-GoJu Kai Karate Club
- Lacrosse: Fort McMurray Lacrosse
- Luge: Fort McMurray Luge Club
- Mixed Martial Arts: Fort McMurray UFC Fan Club,
- Modellers RC: Fort McMurray RC Modellers Club
- Motorcycle: Wood Buffalo Motorcycle Association,
- Nordic Ski Club: Ptarmigan Nordic Ski Club
- Paintball: Fort McMurray Mafia-Speedball
- Poker: Fort McMurray Poker Players
- Rafting: Fort
- Ringette: Fort McMurray Ringette Association
- Roller Derby: Tarsand Betties
- Rowing: Fort McMurray Rowing Club,
- Rugby: Fort McMurray Knights Rugby Club-Rugby Knights - Knights Alumni -Women’s Rugby
- Running: Fort McMurray Running Club-Fort McMurray Biathlon Club,
- Scuba Diving: Wet & Wild Driving Society
- Skiing, Alpine: Fort McMurray Competitive Ski Club,
- Skiing, Competitive: Fort McMurray Ski Team
- Skiing, Recreational: Vista Ridge
- Sled Dog Racing: Ladouceur’s Tar City Kennels
- Slo-Pitch: Wood Buffalo Slo Pitch Association - Boston Pizza Slo-Pitch League
- Snowboarding: Fort McMurray Snowboarders,
- Snowmobile: Snowdrifters
- Soccer, Men: Fort McMurray Senior Men’s Soccer
- Soccer, Youth: Fort McMurray Youth Soccer Association
- Softball: Fort McMurray Minor Softball,
- Special Olympics: Fort McMurray Special Olympics
- Stock Cars: 1/4 Mile Track - Fort McMurray Speedway Park
- Swimming: Fort McMurray Manta Swim Club
- Taekwondo: Bowmans Taekwondo
- Tennis: Fort McMurray Tennis
- Tobogganing: Tobogganing Enthusiasts
- Triathlon: Northern Lights Triathlon Club
- Yoga: Yoga Agogo