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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

ETHEL CATHERWOOD

Inducted in 1955

Member Details

Date of Birth: April 28, 1908
Place of Birth: Hannah, North Dakota
Date of Passing: September 26, 1987
Sport: Athletics
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1927

National championship title in women's high jump

1928

Amsterdam Olympic Games - Gold medal in high jump

1930

British Empire Games - Gold medal in high jump and javelin events

Honoured Member ETHEL CATHERWOOD
Inspire

Story

Perhaps it was her prairie roots that instilled a pioneering spirit in Ethel Catherwood. After all, "Saskatoon Lily" was one of the first women to compete for Canada in track and field at the Olympic Games. A statuesque beauty, she won the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics high-jump title for Canada with a leap of 5' 2 9/16". Catherwood moved to Saskatchewan as an infant, settling in Saskatoon in the mid-1920s. As a teenager, she proved to be a top athlete, excelling in baseball and track and field. By 1927, she had moved to Toronto where she won the Canadian championship title in the high jump. The Ninth Olympiad at Amsterdam was the first year in which women were allowed to compete in track and field and gymnastics. Still, at the meetings of Olympic officials in Amsterdam, a strong lobby led by several Canadian men had unsuccessfully tried to have women banned from these events in future Olympics. Catherwood, undaunted, was the only Canadian entered in the women's high jump. She beat out 22 other competitors (including world record holder Gisele Gisolf on her home turf) for the gold medal. Catherwood went on to win the gold at the British Empire Games in 1930 in the high jump and javelin events. Much attention was given to Catherwood's athletic prowess, but Canadians were also captivated by her beauty. Indeed, her looks were chronicled almost as enthusiastically in the press. When she retired from sports in 1930, she chose not to accept any offers that inevitably came her way for screen tests and movie stardom. Instead, she removed herself from the spotlight permanently, moved to California, and lived a private life up to her death in 1987.


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