First gold medal hockey team subject of newest Heritage Minute

November 7, 2014

Historica Canada launches new Heritage Minute

TORONTO – November 7, 2014 Just ahead of Remembrance Day, Historica Canada is launching a new Heritage Minute that explores a unique story of service and sacrifice. Winnipeg Falcons is about a team of Icelandic-Canadians who served in the First World War before bringing home the very first gold medal in Olympic hockey. It stars Jared Keeso (19-2) and is narrated in English by Hockey Night in Canada’s George Stroumboulopoulos, and in French by Pierre Houde, the voice of the Montreal Canadiens.

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“This is a uniquely Canadian story in so many ways, about a group of young men with a passion for our national sport, set against the greater backdrop of war, tragedy and triumph,” says Anthony Wilson-Smith, President of Historica Canada. “Their determination, courage and resilience teach us lessons that are every bit as important today.”


The Falcons team was made up almost entirely of players of Icelandic heritage, many of whom lived in the community around Winnipeg’s Sargent Avenue. The team was just beginning to experience success when the First World War broke out. By 1916, most players had enlisted. Konnie Johannesson and Hockey Hall of Famer Frank Fredrickson trained as pilots in Egypt. Club president Hebbie Axford earned a Distinguished Flying Cross. Two Falcons died during the war’s final year—Frank ‘Buster’ Thorsteinson and George Cumbers.


The Minute was produced by Historica Canada and Calgary-based Corkscrew Media & Stir Films, with assistance from historical consultants Dr. Serge Durflinger (University of Ottawa) and Jim Blanchard (author of Winnipeg’s Great War: A City Comes of Age).


Historica Canada re-launched Heritage Minutes in 2012 after a hiatus of nearly eight years. These Minutes are made possible through funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage and the support of donors from the Winnipeg community who were eager to have the story told.

Historica Canada is the largest independent organization dedicated to history and citizenship in Canada. Its mandate is to build active and informed citizens through a greater knowledge and appreciation of the history, heritage and stories of Canada. 


For more information:

Nicki Thomas

Heritage Minutes Coordinator

416-506-1867 ext 236