The Winnipeg Falcons
This week marked the 90th anniversary of the first Olympic Gold Medal in hockey, won on April 26, 1920 at the Antwerp Olympics by the Winnipeg Falcons.
This piece is the first in a series celebrating the history and myth of hockey. The depth to which hockey penetrates into Canadian culture and history is astounding, and what is on the surface simply a game in fact makes up a rich and storied national mythology.
The Falcons are among the first of many hallowed teams in the game’s history, and such teams and players take on the status of noble ghosts as they recede further into history. As any fan knows the game is full of such ghosts. I wanted to work from this sense of legend and myth in the image, while maintaining a certain sense of humor about it. The appearance of the players almost as descending angels is as much a representation of their status in our game’s history as it is a light-hearted joke.
The figures in the image are drawn from five of the Falcons, namely Hallie ‘Slim’ Halderson, Frank Frederickson, Connie Johanneson, Walter Byron and Bobby Benson. They carry the five Olympic rings, first used as the symbol for the 1920 Games. Below them is the city of Antwerp.
The Falcons were, as second-generation Icelanders in Canada, considered outsiders or ‘Goolies’. Their Olympic victory was an early step in opening up the game beyond its intial boundaries, a process that continues today. They are also heroes in Iceland’s hockey history, immortalized as a falcon and a maple leaf in the logo of Ice Hockey Iceland.