SSHF marks Black History Month with new educational program

February is Black History Month and this year the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to launch a new educational outreach program History of Black Athletes and Their Impact on Saskatchewan Sport.

The new program is being offered to schools across the province year-round as part of the SSHF’s educational programming.

History of Black Athletes shares the stories of pioneers like Robert Ellis “Stonewall” Jackson who became the first black player to suit up for the Roughriders on October 25, 1930, against the Moose Jaw Maroons. Jackson had a 45-yard run and recovered a fumble for a Riders touchdown in an auspicious debut. Jackson became the first black player to play in Grey Cup when the Riders faced Balmy Beach in Toronto in 1930. Jackson worked his day job as a railway porter on the trip from Regina to Toronto before playing the game and working on the trip back home.

The 1930 Regina Roughriders.

Players like Gabe Patterson in 1947, Chester “Cookie” Gilchrist in 1958, and Ed Buchanan and George Reed in 1963 came north to play football with the Riders and continued to break down barriers as they battled discrimination. Reed has related that he lived in a hotel for his first two years in Regina because he couldn’t find a landlord who would rent an apartment to him.

The History of Black Athletes program also highlights the stories of two recent inductees.

Harry Winston Jerome, OC had an incredible athletic career that was even more remarkable considering the adversity he faced.

Jerome was born in Prince Albert and when he was 12, the family settled in North Vancouver, B.C. There, locals tried to block the sale of a house to the Jerome family because of their race. The Jerome siblings had rocks thrown at them on their first day of school.

At the age of 19, Jerome burst into the global spotlight when he matched the world record time in the 100-metre sprint at the Canadian Olympic trials in Saskatoon. At the 1960 Rome Olympics, Jerome pulled up with a hamstring injury in the 100m semifinal. Several newspapers in Canada questioned his character with one even labelling him as a “quitter.”

At the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, Jerome tore his quadriceps tendon and pulled up lame to finish last in the 100-yard final. The injury was so severe that he missed an entire year of competition. Even today an injury of that nature would be difficult to return from, but in 1962 it was unheard of and it was feared that Jerome’s career was over.

Harry Jerome receives the Order of Canada. photo courtesy of the BC Sports Hall of Fame

Instead, he returned to competition and silenced any critics he had with an incredible comeback that spoke to his character. He won an Olympic bronze medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and won the 100m gold at the British Commonwealth Games in 1966.

In total Jerome owned seven different world records over his career. He also completed his master’s degree in Education at the University of Oregon (where he was also a decorated sprinter) and after retiring in 1969, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau asked him to help create Canada’s new Ministry of Sport.

He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1970 and was named British Columbia’s Athlete of the Century. Today a statue of Jerome is prominently displayed in Stanley Park in Vancouver.

The National Film Board of Canada has an excellent documentary about Harry Jerome entitled Mighty Jerome by Ileana Pietrobruno. She also made a short film for the NFB, titled Harry Jerome: The Fastest Man on Earth which is available below:

Harry Jerome : The Fastest Man on Earth, Ileana Pietrobruno, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Rueben Mayes’ family history is a fascinating chapter in the story of the province. A group of black families – some of whom were freed slaves – left Oklahoma in 1910 with the promise of affordable land and the hope of finding a more accepting place to call home. The group named themselves the Shiloh people, named after the Biblical town where the once-enslaved Israelites rested on their search for the Promised Land after fleeing Egypt. They settled just north of Maidstone between Lloydminster and North Battleford.

Mayes’ great-grandfather Joe Mayes was the minister of Shiloh Baptist Church which was built by the settlers and is now a heritage site. Rueben’s great-grandmother Mattie Mayes was a midwife, an educator and a spiritual leader in the community. Approximately 1,000 African-Americans came to Saskatchewan as part of the migration, but in 1912, the Canadian government began discouraging black immigration. They went so far as to send emissaries to black communities in America to dissuade them from coming to Saskatchewan.

Rueben Mayes would be born in North Battleford in 1963 and would go on to become one of the greatest football players ever produced in Canada. He became the first Canadian to be a finalist for the Heisman Trophy representing the best college football players in America. He was a consensus All-American in 1984 and broke the NCAA’s single-game rushing record that same year for Washington State.

Rueben Mayes runs to daylight with Washington State. photo courtesy Washington State University

Mayes would go on to play six seasons in the National Football League. He was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and was named to the Pro Bowl team twice while playing for the New Orleans Saints.

Like Jerome, Mayes would go on to complete his Master’s degree, completing an MBA after retiring.

The Black Business and Professional Association created the Harry Jerome Awards in 1983 shortly after Jerome died. For more than 40 years the Harry Jerome Awards have celebrated black achievement in Canada in a dozen categories from business and entrepreneurship to sports and the arts. Mayes himself was honoured with a Harry Jerome Award.


Saskatchewan and the Grey Cup Vignettes

On November 19, 2013, the SSHF hosted the world premiere for our three vignettes celebrating the Saskatchewan Roughriders and their involvement with the Grey Cup as participants, hosts and champions. As Grey Cup 2013 unfolded it became quite apparent that our “new” videos were only historically correct up to Sunday, November 17, 2013, resulting in some significant post production work.

The updated vignettes, which were previously only visible at the Hall of Fame, can now be seen below. They provide the SSHF with a tremendous opportunity to showcase the Roughrider permanent collection and involve many of our inductees.

The SSHF is grateful for the financial support from the Community Initiatives Fund and Saskatchewan Lotteries which made the production of these vignettes possible.

Special thanks to:
Canadian Football League
FireCube Video
Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club
Global Television
Roger Aldag
Carm Carteri
John Charlton
Neil Donnelly
Gloria Evans
Alan Ford
Richie Hall
Jill McDougall
Rod Pedersen
Dave Pettigrew
Bob Poley
Mark Stefan
Glen Suitor
George Reed
Cleveland Vann
Rob Vanstone
Patricia Wallace
Warren Woods

2nd Annual Roughrider Alumni Autumn Golf Classic

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 4.07.11 PM

We are pleased to announce that the Saskatchewan Roughrider Alumni Association will be hosting its 2nd Annual Autumn Golf Classic with net proceeds being shared once again with the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame.  Last year’s event was a lot of fun and a great success but, of course, we are hoping for bigger and better things in 2014.

The Autumn Golf Classic will take place in Saskatoon on Monday, September 22 at the Saskatoon Golf & Country Club. Registration and Lunch begin at 11 a.m. with a Shotgun Tee-Off starting at Noon.

Rider fans can golf with the likes of Terry Bulych, George Reed, Al Ford, Jim Hopson, Steve Mazurak, Dale West, Dan Rashovich, Roger Aldag, Greg Fieger, Preston Young, Carm Carteri, Cleveland Vann, Rob Bresciani, Quinn Magnuson, Geroy Smith and more….

Registrations are accepted as teams of three ($1,000) or as individual entries ($350).  Your registration includes 18 holes of scramble golf with a power cart, Lunch, and Dinner following the tournament in the Clubhouse.  Each participant will also receive an exclusive limited edition commemorative tee gift.  Registrations close September 15.

To register please contact Jennifer in the Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club office at 1.888.474.3377 or[email protected].

Have a look at the great sponsorship opportunities here:

2014 Rider Alumni Sponsorship Package

Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame Receives Support From Rider Alumni


Roughrider alumni Al Ford, Dale West, George Reed, Terry Bulych (Alumni President) and Rob Pyne presenting cheque to SSHF President, Trent Fraser, and SSHF Past President, Hugh Vassos


The Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame (SSHF) has received some welcomed financial support thanks to the Saskatchewan Roughriders Alumni Association. The Rider Alumni Association has provided the SSHF with $10,000 as part of the proceeds raised from the alumni association’s first annual Autumn Golf Classic held September 23, 2013, at the Saskatoon Golf and Country Club. The Autumn Golf Classic raised a net profit of $20,000.

“The SSHF does a tremendous job of preserving the history of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and many of our alumni are proud members of the SSHF,” said Terry Bulych, Rider Alumni Association President. “We are pleased to be able to give back and support this great provincial institution which does so much to preserve the legacy of not only the Riders, but all of Saskatchewan’s sporting greats.”

“We truly appreciate the support of the Riders Alumni Association,” said Trent Fraser, President of the SSHF. “These moneys enable the SSHF to continue to properly maintain the important sporting past of our province as well allows us to continue to educate the public of Saskatchewan’s rich sport history.”

The Rider Alumni Association and the SSHF thanks all participants and sponsors of the Autumn Golf Classic.