In the 1920s and 1930s the legendary Lionel Conacher blazed his name across the face of Canadian sports. While sportswriters stretched into hyperbole to describe the exploits of "The Big Train", the p
In the 1920s and 1930s the legendary Lionel Conacher blazed his name across the face of Canadian sports. While sportswriters stretched into hyperbole to describe the exploits of "The Big Train", the popular multi-sport hero blithely ran, skated, and scored his way into sporting history. One Grey Cup day he tallied fifteen points for the Argonauts, then, before the game was over, raced across town to help his hockey teammates win a match.
The oldest boy in a large, closely knit family, Conacher grew up in Toronto's rough north end, cutting his teeth on hard work and road hockey. Determined to remain amateur (and eligible to play all sports), the young superstar turned down tempting offers from pro hockey and baseball clubs until 1925, when he signed with the National Hockey League franchise in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For the next twelve years he made astounding headlines in pro hockey, football, baseball, and lacrosse. But it wasn't all smooth sailing. There were injuries, illness, and a year-long battle with the bottle.
By 1937 "The Big Train" was on a new track. He retired from professional sport and launched into a political career, first as a Toronto MPP and later as a Liberal backbencher in Ottawa. But sport was never out of the picture. He appeared in benefit games, organized military athletics during World War II, served as president of the NHL Oldtimers Association and urged improvements in sporting facilities. In 1950 Conacher was selected by Canadian sportswriters as the greatest male athlete of the past fifty years.
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Frank Cosentino is a former Canadian football quarterback in the Canadian Football League playing for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Edmonton Eskimos and Toronto Argonauts for ten years where he was a two-time Grey Cup champion, winning in 1963 and 1965. Frank then joined York University as a professor and coached intercollegiate football for twelve years, winning two Vanier Cups. He is a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2018. Frank has authored or co-authored 21 books.
Don Morrow was a professor in the School of Kinesiology at Western University. His research focused on the study of Canadian sport from a historical, cultural, and theoretical perspective. Don was the editor-in-chief for Sport History Review.