By Erin Valois
James Bisson’s favourite Canadian sports memory is the 1987 Canada Cup, a tournament packed with superstars and amazing hockey.
“It was the only time you could see Wayne Gretzky play with Mario Lemieux,” he says.
“I remember watching it when I was 10 years old, running around in my basement and screaming every time Canada scored. I was grounded.”
Although this moment plays clearly in Bisson’s head, not every Canadian knows about one of the most famous hockey games in the country’s history. So the 31-year-old Ryerson journalism graduate decided to write a book about Canada’s proudest sports moments.
Bisson is the writer of “100 Greatest Canadian Sports Moments,” released in September. He graduated from Ryerson in 2003 and works at the Canadian Press as a reporter-editor.
He wrote the book because he says people love talking and debating about sports, but no one had written this type of book about Canadian sports before. The biggest challenge was finding a way to keep readers interested in events that happened more than fifty years ago.
“We had to find a fresh way to present the information,” he says. “It helped to get new quotes and perspectives from the athletes.”
He started the project by making his own list of top Canadian sports moments.
Bisson created the final list for his book through input from a panel of sports journalists from various media outlets, including the Canadian Press and The Score.
“One person’s opinion is only one person’s opinion. I didn’t want this to be a vanity project, so it was good to have the panelists,” he says.
“I believe every moment in the book is justified, there isn’t any filler.”
The book is filled with colourful pages of Canada’s top athletes and their achievements. It’s easy to understand, especially for amateur sports fans, as Bisson clearly explains each significant moment.
From #75 — NBA franchises in Vancouver and Toronto, to #3 — the Blue Jays’ second World Series win, the debate swirling around Bisson’s choices for top Canadian moments will be the focus of drunken pub arguments for years to come.
And Bisson doesn’t just recognize recent Canadian moments — he added a couple throwbacks to the mix.
“One of the best moments is about Percy Williams who won two gold medals in track and field in 1928. I think the influence of television really dictated the book because people remember what they see,” he says.
“It’s great to see people remember something that happened 80 years ago. I think the people who voted for this moment to be significant made it special.”
Bisson says he’s interested in updating the book in a few years.
He says the Olympics in Vancouver will create moments in Canadian sport history that deserve recognition.
But right now, he’s just enjoying the response to his first book.
“It’s great to see all these people share their stories and see their passion for sports,” he says.
“I love touring around Canada and hearing people talk about the book and debate about different moments.”