CBC Digital Archives

Hockey broadcaster Foster Hewitt looks back

"He shoots, he scores!" With those words, legendary hockey broadcaster Foster Hewitt united Canada each Saturday night. From his inauspicious first broadcast (shouting into a telephone from a foggy glass booth in 1923) to the momentous Summit Series of 1972 and beyond, Hewitt was Canada's voice of hockey for half a century.

On Nov. 21, 1902, Canada's voice of hockey is born. Foster Hewitt's enthusiastic and dramatic play-by-play calls carry listeners through the early 1920's, the Depression, the Second World War, and into the television era. A broadcasting trailblazer, Hewitt coins the enduring phrase "he shoots, he scores!" which becomes a Canadian rally cry of sorts. In this CBC Radio Morningside interview, Hewitt discusses his broadcasting style, his love of the game, and his dynamic career.
• Foster Hewitt was born in Toronto on Nov. 21, 1902 and passed away in Scarborough, Ontario on April 21, 1985.

• In February 1923, Hewitt broadcast his first game using an upright telephone for CFCA radio owned by the Toronto Star. He became the Toronto Maple Leafs' radio announcer in 1927.

• Initially, it was feared that radio would detract from attendance at spectator sports. But Hewitt's dramatic broadcasts attracted new fans. His broadcasts made it easier for sports fans to follow the progress of the team players.

• Foster Hewitt's son Bill took over the television play-by-play calls in 1960. Foster returned to his radio broadcasts. Never missing a game in his 49-year career, he estimated that he called over 5000 sports events over the course of his career.

• Broadcasters have cited Foster Hewitt as a true broadcasting pioneer. His ability to cut to the quick, his economy of words, and his passionate enthusiasm made him a true original.

• The process of calling a game was so rigorous that Hewitt estimated that he would routinely lose 15 pounds every season.

• In 1972, Hewitt came out of retirement to call the famous Summit Series between Canada and the USSR. He jubilantly called out "Henderson has scored for Canada!!!!," echoing the sentiments of thrilled Canadians at home.

• Hockey researcher Eric Zweig notes that Hewitt makes some errors in fact in this interview. According to Zweig's research, Hewitt's first hockey broadcast was five weeks earlier - on Feb. 16, 1923 - than Hewitt recalls it in this clip.
• Contrary to popular belief, Hewitt was not the first person to call a hockey game on the radio. That honour goes to Norman Albert, who called a game for CFCA on Feb. 8, 1923.

Medium: Radio
Program: Don Harron's Morningside
Broadcast Date: March 21, 1978
Guest(s): Foster Hewitt
Host: Don Harron
Duration: 12:13
Photo: CBC Still Photo Collection, Toronto

Last updated: March 20, 2014

Page consulted on March 20, 2014

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