For years the signs welcoming people into Edmonton have proudly included the words The City Of Champions and from time to time the words have drawn criticism. There are some who believe that since our hockey team and football team haven’t won the Stanley Cup or the Grey Cup for the past few years that the phrase no longer applies to this great city.
However, I disagree. To me the phrase, City Of Champions means more to me than the one time success of The Edmonton Oilers and Edmonton Eskimos. Although both teams have done this city proud, there have been other great athletes who have called Edmonton home.
What about the great figure skaters such as Jamie Sales, Kurt Browning and Nancy Kwan who lived and trained in Edmonton and went on to win Olympic medals. In other sports there is Gary Beck, two time world championship drag racer and member of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame. There is also world champion professional wrestler Chris Benoit who proudly hailed from Edmonton. I remember the day he returned to Edmonton with a world wrestling belt around his waist. He visited schools around the city and proudly displayed his trophy to awe struck students and he told them, you too can succeed if you want something bad enough and work at it really hard.
Who can forget Randy Ferbey, Canadian and world champion curler, Cathy King, also a great curler comes from St. Albert which is right outside of Edmonton, and the great free style skier, Jennifer Hail was born and raised in Spruce Grove which is also just next door to Edmonton. The boxer Adam Trupish is another great athlete from this city.
Those are just a few of the many famous athletes who have called Edmonton home over the years so I think groups, such as Make Something Edmonton, who want to re-brand the city and use some phrase other than City Of Champions should stop and think a minute before making any sudden moves. They should reflect upon the fame and glory these athletes brought to Edmonton. As far as I’m concerned there are no better words that fittingly honor their heroics than City of Champions.
And if the athletic prowess of Edmonton athletes aren’t enough to make the Make Something Edmonton Group alter their line of thinking, perhaps they should take a look at a few of the people from other fields who helped put Edmonton on the map.
Under the list of great artists and writers we must include W.P. Kinsella, who wrote Shoeless Joe which was made into the film Field of Dreams. He also penned tournament Scrabble player. There is also publisher, author and politician Mel Hurtig as well as Marshall Mcluhan, a pioneer of media theory and the recipient of numerous awards and appointments. Tommy Banks was a world famous musician. Bill Bourne won three Juneau Awards as a folks and blues singer-songwriter.
So you see, when one stops and considers what the phrase, City of Champions really means, to me it is much more than just the few glory years of the Oilers and Eskimos. It includes the endeavors of all Edmonton residents from all walks of life and whether they win or lose they carry with them a spirit that says I’m from Edmonton and dam proud of it.
My source regarding the people who have made Edmonton famous came from the archives of the Edmonton Sun. Note. some of the people I used for my story are so well known that very little research was needed. However, I did use the Edmonton Sun for the proper spelling of names.
By: Milton Cust