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Barbara Ann Scott: Queen of a ice

Editor’s note: This is partial of a array of stories celebrating some of Canada’s top sports heroes and moments as a nation outlines a 150th birthday in 2017. We’ve also revisited a lives of ball gymnasium of famer Ferguson Jenkins, speed skater Gaetan Boucher and skier Nancy Greene, and looked behind during a Richard Riot.

When we met Barbara Ann Scott, Canada’s initial Olympic skating champion, your initial greeting was to take a offering hand, crawl deeply, and place a soothing lick of invocation to loyal skating royalty.

She had that kind of aura — one suitable for a country’s initial complicated general jaunty superstar, though also something fitting by decades of clearly letter-perfect open appearances, unconstrained munificence to immature skaters and adore for Canadian sport.

From a time Scott won a initial of dual universe championships, in 1947, by a Olympic bullion award in 1948 during St. Moritz, a Ottawa skater dominated and dazzled title writers who fell for her grace, attract and (heavens, we can’t contend that about a immature woman) athleticism.

Barbara Ann Scott: Canada’s sweetheart11:05

“She was positively a queen, and a king, and a whole stately family around skating, being a initial Canadian to win Olympic and universe bullion medals,” says Debbi Wilkes, herself a Canadian fable on a ice, carrying won a 1964 pairs china with partner Guy Revell, during a Innsbruck Games. 

“When we initial met her, we theory it was 1963 … during a Olympic trials in [Toronto’s] Maple Leaf Gardens … it was like assembly a Queen — she was so lovely, so graceful, so supportive, warm, and authentic in her regard and congratulations. It’s still a prominence of my skating career.”

Born to be a star

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Scott’s unaccompanied multiple of beauty and athleticism set her detached in a post-war era. (Frank Royal/National Archives of Canada/Canadian Press)

Scott was a discord of so many Canadian heroes on a general sporting theatre whose success was rather unexpected. She had it young, embraced it, throve on it and met a vigour conduct on with eyes open and grin wide.

Her nickname was Tinker (as in Tinker Bell). She carried hardly 100 pounds on a 5-foot-2 support and was already inhabitant youth champion during age 11 and comparison leader during 15. European and North American titles would be combined in 1947 and a star was, rather than born, confirmed.

Figure skating was a tough gig in those days and during a ’48 Games it was outdoors. The march had been used for dual hockey games progressing that day before Scott won gold, so it was rough and scarred. Wind and cold could impact your performance.


Mattered not a whit, as Canada’s entrant had progressing dejected a margin in mandatory total (tracing tight, accurate patterns such as figure eights on a inside edge, into a ice as judges looked down and frowned), and did a same in a giveaway skate.

Austria’s Eva Pawlik took silver, and Jeannette Aitwegg, of Britain, won bronze.

Girls’ girl

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All eyes were on Scott as she practised forward of a 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, where a figure skating foe was reason on an outside rink. (Chris Ware/Keystone/Getty Images)

Ottawa welcomed Scott behind with open arms, hearts, and wallets, immersion a still 19-year-old with gifts including a keys to a yellow Buick convertible, usually to accept it behind dual months after since IOC trainer Avery Brundage threatened a skater’s pledge status. 

Being a womanlike contestant 70 years ago came with other challenges, as evinced by this sell with a CBC radio commentator after Scott had met with Princes Elizabeth, a Commonwealth’s destiny Queen:

Reporter: “What did we speak about? … Styles and food, or what?”

Scott (smiling sweetly): “No, we talked about skating … horseback roving … Switzerland …”

Followed after by: 

Reporter: “Did we sell recipes, or anything like that?”

Scott (still smiling): “No, no recipes, though we did notice in her marriage presents she had a vast cookbook.”

It was a skater’s athleticism, generally a introduction of double loops, that set her detached from everybody else in a evident post-war era. For Canadian skaters, it was a feat itself that set a list for what was to come. For Canadian girls it gave them an jaunty favourite to opposite a boys’ Maurice Richard or Teeder Kennedy.

“That win was what set a foe of skating in Canada on a trail of success, to a support from a open and, in time, from government,” says Wilkes, who after timid would turn a TV colour voice of a foe for 35 years. “It non-stop a doorway to everyone’s imagination — everyone wanted to be Barbara Ann.”

Canada’s Sweetheart

She could be a genuine doll. Actually, she was a doll.

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Scott modelled her “Rose Marie” marriage dress during a operation for an ice uncover in London in 1950. (Associated Press)

The Reliable Toy Company released a Barbara Ann Scott collectible in 1948, labelled during $5.95 and accessible in a series of outfits, all with small white skates. They sole like crazy for about 8 years.

Canada’s Sweetheart (who divided from a spotlight was tough, funny, smart, forthright, candid and, if a arise warranted, could damn like a stevedore) went pro after a Olympics, skating in many shows around North America and Europe. 

She famously seemed as a “mystery guest” on a renouned What’s My Line? television module in 1955, carrying her poodle Pierre (complete with apparently mistake solid collar and red embellished nails).

The row knew who she was.


Marriage to American publicist Tom King saw a pierce to Chicago, a switch to equestrian sports (dressage of course, during that she excelled) and a dropping out of a Canadian limelight until a early 1960s when a other Barbara Ann Scott career began — ambassador for her sport, her nation and a athletes.

“(Barbara) did not humour fools well, and nonetheless she managed somehow notwithstanding all a grabbing for attention, she still managed to keep this elegance, beauty and intrepidity around some of a craziest situations where fans would only be perplexing to squeeze reason of her,” says Wilkes. “She always managed this beautiful, comfortable acceptance of a conditions and unequivocally suffer it.”

An illuminated star in furs and feign wealth (the genuine ones were left during home). 

Scott’s final appearances were memorable. In 2010 for a Vancouver Olympics, she was one of 8 celebrated Olympic dwindle bearers in a opening ceremonies. Earlier she had presented a fire to a station acclaim and singular bipartisan support in Canada’s Parliament during Ottawa.


Barbara Ann Scott died on Sept. 30, 2012, withdrawal an athletic, amicable and personal bequest that will be formidable to match.

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