Remembrance: New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame War Heroes
Each November, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day, we pause to remember those whose made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. In recent years there has been an increased effort to make younger Canadians (especially) more aware of the meaning of Remembrance Day and of the important role our veterans played in shaping our nation’s history.
Among those who answered the call in 1899, 1914 or 1939 were many of New Brunswick’s finest athletes, robust young men and women, in the prime of their lives. While some had the opportunity to pursue their careers in the service, for the majority, going to war meant putting sports aside and trading in a hockey stick, baseball bat, or running shoes, for a rifle, combat boots, and the uniform of the army, navy or air force. When the war was over, most returned and carried on with their lives. Some even went on to glory and success on the playing field. Sadly however, not everyone returned.
Future world speed skating champion Charles Gorman of Saint John enlisted as a sixteen year-old and went to France in 1917 with the Sixth Brigade machine gun company. He fought at Vimy Ridge and at Arras where he was wounded in the left leg. While there is some debate as to the severity of the wounds, Gorman recovered and went on to glory as one of this province’s most celebrated athletes. Click here to view page.
In his era, Wallace Watling of Chatham was considered the best all-round athlete ever produced on the Miramichi. He excelled at baseball and hockey, and was captain of the town basketball and rugby teams. He was decorated for bravery receiving the Military Cross and Bar for his actions during the Battle of Amiens in 1918. Watling also continued his athletic pursuits while overseas, boxing the British Empire middleweight champion to a three-round draw, and earning a spot on the British army’s all-star rugby squad. Click here to view page.
Fredericton’s Arthur Finnamore was well known throughout the Maritimes for his prowess in baseball, athletics, and basketball. In 1900, he volunteered for service in the South African (Boer) War, where Canadian troops distinguished themselves. Later, during the First World War, Finnamore served in France, where among other duties he coached an army baseball team. Click here to view page.
Saint John’s Sybil (Beatteay) Mitchell was a multi-sports competitor who first made her mark in speedskating at the age of 10. From 1925 through to 1933, she racked up championship after championship over nine consecutive years. Then, later in her life, Sybil Mitchell joined the Canadian Women’s Army Corps, serving in Europe and Great Britain during the Second World War. Click here to view page.
Moncton’s Amédée Cormier honed his leadership skills while serving in the Royal Canadian Airforce during the Second World War. Returning to civilian life after the war, his success as a coach at the high school, community, university and provincial levels became awe- inspiring: 11 curling championships, including a national gold medal two Atlantic University titles; eight provincial interscholastic championship in hockey; and 12 Atlantic university and provincial championships in track and field. Click here to view page.
Don Norton was already a hero before he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1942. Norton, a pitcher on the 1938-39 teams and also an outstanding sprinter, saved several students from a fire at Mount Allison University in December 1941. After surviving one plane crash early in the war, he was killed on June 8, 1944 when his plane went down in France. Click here to view page.
The following lesson plans have been designed to support the New Brunswick Social Studies curriculum at grade 6 (francophone), 7 and 9 levels. Each lesson plan focusses upon a specific concept in Historical Thinking (Seixas & Morton, 2013), and is intended to be used in the classroom over a timeframe of three to five teaching periods.
Accompanying each lesson plan is a series of teaching tools (artifacts, archival documents, multimedia links, and scaffolding tools) relating to the above six Honoured Members of the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame. These tools are designed to provide teachers (and their students) with access to primary sources that support inquiry-based learning. By arranging the material in this way, students are empowered to ask probing questions about the past, engage in provocative classroom discussions, and explore a variety of links between war and sport in New Brunswick.