David Johnson Governor General of Canada, Rideau Hall, Wednesday, January 8, 2013
Good morning and welcome to this special celebration! We are here to mark the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Figure Skating Championships, taking place right here in Ottawa.
I grew up in northern Ontario, and learning how to skate is a rite of passage, as it is in many communities across the country. In fact, I’m pretty sure I was skating before I was walking!
Canadians have always been drawn to the ice, and we love to share the fun and frivolity with family and friends.
But there are very few of us with the skill, dexterity and enormous dedication to do what the men and women will showcase during these championships. For them, the skates are truly an extension of their feet, the ice no less comfortable than their living room. They perform on a level that is above and beyond what many of us could ever accomplish.
My wife, Sharon, and I and I are proud to be patrons of this competition, and we are excited to see these skaters in person, and to present the awards to the very best our country has to offer.
In fact, many of these trophies are here at Rideau Hall with us today, and they have a special link to this office. Names such as Minto, Devonshire and Connaught—former governors general all—grace these cups, some of which will be presented this year for the first time in decades.
But let me draw your attention to one of the retired, and unique, awards: the Grey Challenge Trophy. It was donated by Lord Grey, governor general from 1904 to 1911.
If the name is familiar, it is because his name is synonymous with football and the Grey Cup. But perhaps less well known was his dedication to skating and to ice sports. He was an avid curler and took full advantage of the skating rink at Rideau Hall—one of the oldest outdoor skating rinks in Canada.
In fact, his entire family were skating enthusiasts. His daughter, Lady Evelyn Grey, even went on to win several championships in single, pairs and dance categories.
Standing 20 inches tall and 16 inches wide, and weighing in at 100 pounds, this bronze sculpture may look like it belongs in a museum or art gallery, but in fact it has been awarded to many of the finest skaters in our history. I am so pleased that this award, along with all the other awards with us today, has been refurbished in time for the centennial of the Canadian Figure Skating Championships.
Our country has a long and storied history on the ice, which makes Skate Canada’s role that much more vital. Not only is it the leading authority in figure skating in this country, but the good people at Skate Canada are also curators of our on-ice traditions. To the staff and volunteers, I say thank you for keeping our history alive and vibrant.
The Canadian Figure Skating Championships is the final road that will lead our very best skaters to Sochi, Russia, for the Winter Olympic Games. I am proud to host all of you here, to have all these competitors in Ottawa, and to see first-hand the skills of these skaters on the rink outdoors in just a little bit.
I wish all those participating the very best of luck, and I thank all the organizers for making this a competition, and anniversary, to remember.
100th Anniversary of the Canadian Figure Skating Championships