Not that long ago, Toronto was being mocked as the worst sports city in North America. Well, in recent years we’ve had two exciting Blue Jays playoff appearances (though I fear we won’t see that again for a while), a resurgence of the Raptors and a rebirth of the Maple Leafs. And now, within a two-week span from November 26 to December 9, a Grey Cup championship by the Toronto Argos and an MLS Cup win by Toronto FC.
Once upon a time, titles in Toronto weren’t so rare. In fact, there was a time when it seemed like the Argos and Maple Leafs would never lose. In an eight-year span from 1945 to 1952, the Argos won the Grey Cup five times and the Leafs won the Stanley Cup five times. That’s got to have been a pretty wonderful time to have been a Toronto sports fan! During those eight years, there was never more than 18 months between championships, and often as few as six months:
- April 22, 1945: Toronto wins Stanley Cup
- December 1, 1945: Toronto wins Grey Cup
- November 3, 1946: Toronto wins Grey Cup
- April 19, 1947: Toronto wins Stanley Cup
- November 29, 1947: Toronto wins Grey Cup
- April 14, 1948: Toronto wins Stanley Cup
- April 16, 1949: Toronto wins Stanley Cup
- November 25, 1950: Toronto wins Grey Cup
- April 21, 1951: Toronto wins Stanley Cup
- November 29, 1952: Toronto wins Grey Cup
This was when my parents grew up. I know it made a big impact on my father, and I’m sure it’s a big reason why sports still runs so deep in my immediate family. I mean, there’s never really been another run like it in all of Canadian sports. Even when the Edmonton Eskimos and Edmonton Oilers were winning all those championships between 1978 and 1990 (and there were 11 in total – although it took them 13 years to do it) the only time they both won in the same calender year was 1987. Toronto did it in 1945 and 1947.
Montreal comes out on top in terms of twin NHL and CFL titles, although even with their 24 hockey championships dating back to 1916, the only years in which the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup and a Montreal football won the Grey Cup in the same season are 1931, 1944 and 1977. Ottawa almost joins the list of twin wins with Grey Cup victories in 1925 and 1926 and the Stanley Cup in 1927.
American cities have had their multiple champions too, but not very often. In 1927, the New York Yankees and the New York Giants football team were both champions, although the NFL did not have a championship game yet. In 1928, the New York Rangers and Yankees were both champs and in 1969 the New York Jets and New York Mets both won titles too. (The New York Knicks added an NBA title in 1970.) In Pittsburgh, Super Bowl championships by the Steelers in January of 1979 and 1980 bookended a World Series win by the Pirates in October of 1979. And way back in 1935, the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions won the World Series and the NFL championship within two months of each other. (Detroit’s Joe Louis was boxing’s Heavyweight Champion of the World at the time, and the Red Wings would add Stanley Cup titles in 1936 and 1937.)
In terms of timing, the ultimate back-to-back championships would be to win the Stanley Cup and the NBA Finals in the same season, given that they have often wrapped up within a week or two of each other. No one city has ever accomplished that double feat. But in past years Toronto has crowned multiple hockey champions in a timeline often tighter than the 13 days between this year’s Argos and TFC titles. Have a look…
- March 22, 1922: Toronto Granites win Allan Cup
March 28, 1922: Toronto St. Pats win Stanley Cup
- April 6, 1932: Toronto Nationals win Allan Cup
April 9, 1932: Toronto Maple Leafs win Stanley Cup
- April 22, 1945: Leafs win Stanley Cup
April 23, 1945: St. Mikes wins Memorial Cup
- April 19, 1947: Leafs win Stanley Cup
April 22, 1947: St. Mikes wins Memorial Cup
- April 15, 1964: Leafs win Stanley Cup
May 9, 1964: Marlies win Memorial Cup
- May 2, 1967: Leafs win Stanley Cup
May 14, 1967: Marlies win Memorial Cup
Toronto doesn’t have a monopoly on this. Montreal has done it too, but not nearly as often.
- March 30, 1930: Montreal AAA wins Allan Cup
April 3, 1930: Montreal Canadiens win Stanley Cup
- May 4, 1969: Montreal Canadiens win Stanley Cup
May 5, 1969: Montreal Junior Canadians win Memorial Cup
Once again Ottawa comes pretty close, with the Senators clinching the Stanley Cup as champions of the Eastern Canada Hockey Association on March 3, 1909 and the Cliffsides being awarded the inaugural Allan Cup on March 6, 1909 only to lose it to Queen’s University in the first challenge match nine days later.
If anyone’s aware of any twin wins I’ve missed, please let me know!
4 thoughts on “Toronto as Title Town”
This comment will be tangential to the theme of your excellent article but I’ll make it anyway. The soccer win is historic. I predict that in time…say two decades, soccer will truly rival all the other North American major sports for supremacy in capturing fan interest. Football will be gone in 20 years; hockey & basketball will be increasingly marginalized because of premium pricing and lack of fan participation at the grass roots in the case of hockey (and sadly, that’s the only sport I care about).
So this double title is both historic and ironic.
Now, as usual, the Yankees try to buy a championship by signing Stanton. However since new century Bronx Bombers only won one World Series.
Jays are bringing back Bill Caudel, Manny Lee, R.A. Dickey, and some of the originals from 1977. It’s cheaper that way.
Rogers will sell to InterBrew who wants to cut payroll. No player to earn more than the Head Brewmaster. Quality in the important things. Beer.
Jays hope not to be eliminated before Canada Day.
Sports fanatic though I am (a tag that my wife and closest friends have long ago labeled me with) I somehow missed the “Toronto…being mocked as the worst sports city in North America.”
I’m not even sure what the heck that means. There are only a handful of cities, out of the hundreds (thousands?), that even have three or four, major, professional teams never mind the six(6) that Toronto has! (You forgot the very competitive, and Championship winning, Toronto Rock!).
Cities like L.A and Philadelphia, to name just a couple, have much longer and unenviable reputations as fickle sports cities when it comes to supporting their teams on a regular and continuous basis.
Hey, ‘Title Town, U.S.A.’ has ONLY won four Championships in the fifty-one (51) Super Bowls and THEY only have one, measly professional team!
While support for the Argos has been mercurial, to say the least, over the decades I’d stack up the support and attendance by this city, over the lifetime of all our professional teams, with any other in North America….oft bordering on fanaticism when it comes to The Leafs and, at times, the Jays too!
Having said all that, a refreshing, informative and oft nostalgic article pretty well supporting MY thesis, above!
Toronto as worst sports city was all due to the quality the teams, not fan support. Here are some links: