Centenarian who paved way for women in sport inducted into Manitoba Hall of Fame

Mary Dopson, 100, was among 28 athletes and 15 teams who were honoured at the 2019 Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Thursday in Winnipeg.

Mary Dopson among 29 athletes, 15 teams honoured at hall's 40th anniversary

Mary Dopson, 100, was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday. (Travis Golby/CBC)

The oldest living person to ever be inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame says she is grateful to have helped pave the way for women in sport.

"I am proud to have been a part of this female athletic empowerment movement," said Mary Dopson, 100, who was inducted Thursday night at the 40th anniversary of the local sports hall of fame.

Dopson was among 28 people and 15 teams from before 1960 to solidify a spot in Manitoba sports history, including 1940s bowler Ed Sobie who became the first 10-pin bowler to be inducted.

Dopson's love for track and field dates back to her days at Lord Roberts School in Winnipeg, where she became interested in running at 13.

Ed Sobie was inducted for his contributions to the sport of 10-pin bowling in the 1940s. (Supplied by Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame)

She would go on to represent Canada at the 1938 British Empire Games — the equivalent of the modern-day Commonwealth Games — in Sydney, Australia.

Among her achievements, Dopson set an intermediate record of 4.8 metres in the running broad jump in Montreal at the 1936 trials for the Berlin Summer Olympics. Sadly, a lack of funding made it impossible for her to afford the trip overseas.

"There was such an insufficient recognization or funding for women athletes as compared to men," the centenarian told the crowd after accepting her induction medal.

Dopson was active at a time when women's participation in sport wasn't only inadequately supported but "frowned upon and discouraged," said Rick Brownlee.

"They persevered and fought through [for] the athletes that we see today," said Brownlee, sport heritage manager and executive director of the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame. "They blazed the trail for [them]."

Mary Dopson (nee Pitts) said she is proud to be a part of Manitoba sport history. (Supplied by Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame)

Dopson was one of only three inductees from the pre-1960s era who are still alive and were present for the ceremony.

Russell Jackman, who was on the 1953 Brier-winning curling team, and Harry Nightingale both received accolades at the induction event.

"It's very exciting," said Nightingale, who played and coached lacrosse in the 1950s and 1960s. "It was a game that I loved so much."

Harry Nightingale started playing lacross in the 1950s. (Supplied by Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame)
Harry Nightingale says he was moved to learn he would be inducted. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Full list of inductees:

  • Isa Beairsto – golf.
  • Andy Bieber – football.
  • D. C. Mac Braden – curling.
  • Billy Breen – hockey.  
  • Modere "Mud" Bruneteau – hockey.
  • Bill Carpenter – baseball.
  • George Druxman – football.    
  • Jimmy Dunn – All Round 
  • Art Foster – tennis.    
  • Vera (Tustin) Gilbert – swimming. 
  • Charles Harvey – golf.
  • Halldor "Slim" Halldorson – hockey.
  • Frank Hawkins – lacrosse.     
  • Dot (Ferguson) Key – softball.
  • Ed Kotowich – football. 
  • Les Lear – football.    
  • Lou Lucki – softball. 
  • Cornel Piper – football.
  • Andre Roziere – archery.
  • Jim "Babyface" Saunders – boxing.
  • Art Shaw – all-round. 
  • Alex Shibicky – hockey.
  • William "Snake" Siddle – baseball. 
  • Ed Sobie – ten pin bowling.
  • Jimmy Thomson – hockey.
  • Nick Wasnie – hockey.

Teams inducted:

  • 1930 Howard Wood team – curling.        
  • 1931 Bob Gourlay team – curling. 
  • 1932 Jim Congalton team – curling. 
  • 1934 Leo Johnson team – curling.
  • 1935 Winnipeg Maroons – baseball.
  • 1937 Manitoba Canoe team – paddling. 
  • 1938 Ab Gowanlock team – curling. 
  • 1939 Winnipeg Maroons – baseball. 
  • 1940 Howard Wood team – curling.
  • 1942 Winnipeg Maroons – baseball.
  • 1947 Jimmy Welsh team – curling 
  • 1953 Ab Gowanlock Team – curling 
  • 1957 Winnipeg Goldeyes – baseball. 
  • 1959 Winnipeg Goldeyes – baseball.
  • 1960 Winnipeg Goldeyes – baseball.

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