Lou Marsh Trophy

The Lou Marsh Trophy is awarded annually to Canada’s best athlete, as decided by a committee of Canadian sports journalists convened by the Toronto Star. The award is named after Louis Edwin Marsh, a former sports editor with the Toronto Star. It was first awarded in 1936. More recently, there have been calls to rename the award, due to Marsh’s long, documented history of promoting racism and discrimination in his columns. In November 2021, the Toronto Star agreed to assess “whether it is appropriate and fitting to continue to have his name associated with the award.”

The Lou Marsh Trophy is awarded annually to Canada’s best athlete, as decided by a committee of Canadian sports journalists convened by the Toronto Star. The award is named after Louis Edwin Marsh, a former sports editor with the Toronto Star. It was first awarded in 1936. More recently, there have been calls to rename the award, due to Marsh’s long, documented history of promoting racism and discrimination in his columns. In November 2021, the Toronto Star agreed to assess “whether it is appropriate and fitting to continue to have his name associated with the award.”

Louis Edwin Marsh

Louis Edwin Marsh died on 5 March 1936 after 43 years as a journalist. At the time, he was regarded as the dean of Canadian sports journalism. In his youth, he was an excellent all-around athlete. He played on the Toronto Senior Argonaut football team and was a good sprinter and strong swimmer. He was credited with some 15 rescues in the water. He raced iceboats and small speedboats, for which he coined the term "sea fleas," and was a highly regarded referee in boxing and ice hockey. His daily sports column, called “With Pick and Shovel,” appeared in the Toronto Star from 1925 to 1936.

However, in recent years calls have grown to rename the award, due to Marsh’s long, documented history of promoting racist, anti-Semitic and discriminatory attitudes in his column. In February 2021, Dr. Janice Forsyth, associate professor of sociology at Western University, published a study of Marsh’s body of work that shows, in her words, “just how hostile his sports reporting was.” As Global News’ Mike Drolet put it, “What [Marsh] routinely wrote about the great [Onondaga] runner Tom Longboat, among others, is unprintable today.” (See Tom Longboat.) Marsh also opposed calls for Canada to boycott the 1936 Olympic Summer Games in Berlin, Germany, and referred to Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jewish people as “an internal German matter.”

In November 2021, the Toronto Star agreed to assess “whether it is appropriate and fitting to continue to have his name associated with the award.” It was expected that the name of the award would soon be changed.

lou-marsh

Lou Marsh Trophy

Made of black marble, the Lou Marsh Trophy stands about 75 cm high. The words "With Pick and Shovel" appear above the engraved names of the winners, which include the first recipient, track athlete Dr. Phillip Edwards (1936), swimmer Marilyn Bell and figure skater Petra Burka. Hockey star Wayne Gretzky received the award the most times, four, followed by figure skater Barbara Ann Scott with three. A number of athletes have twice received the trophy: golfer Marlene Streit, skier Nancy Greene, jockey Sandy Hawley, sprinter Ben Johnson, auto racer Jacques Villeneuve and hockey player Sidney Crosby. The Lou Marsh Trophy has been shared on two occasions: between skier Ken Read and swimmer Graham Smith in 1978, and between Gretzky and wheelchair racer Rick Hansen in 1983.

The trophy is kept on exhibit at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Lou Marsh Trophy Winners


Year
Athlete Sport
1936 Phil Edwards Track and Field
1937 W. Marshall Cleland Equestrian
1938 Bob Pearce Rowing
1939 Bob Pirie Swimming
1940 Gérard Côté Track and Field
1941 Theo Dubois Rowing
1942 Not awarded
1943 Not awarded
1944 Not awarded
1945 Barbara Ann Scott Figure Skating
1946 Joe Kroll Football
1947 Barbara Ann Scott Figure Skating
1948 Barbara Ann Scott Figure Skating
1949 Cliff Lumsden Swimming
1950 Bob McFarlane Football, Track and Field
1951 Marlene Streit Golf
1952 George Genereux Shooting
1953 Doug Hepburn Weightlifting
1954 Marilyn Bell Swimming
1955 Beth Whittall Swimming
1956 Marlene Streit Golf
1957 Maurice Richard Hockey
1958 Lucille Wheeler Skiing
1959 Barbara Wagner and Bob Paul Figure Skating
1960 Ann Heggtveit Skiing
1961 Bruce Kidd Track and Field
1962 Don Jackson Figure Skating
1963 Bill Crothers Track and Field
1964 George Hungerford and Roger Jackson Rowing
1965 Petra Burka Figure Skating
1966 Elaine Tanner Swimming
1967 Nancy Greene Skiing
1968 Nancy Greene Skiing
1969 Russ Jackson Football
1970 Bobby Orr Hockey
1971 Hervé Filion Harness Racing
1972 Phil Esposito Hockey
1973 Sandy Hawley Horse Racing
1974 Ferguson Jenkins Baseball
1975 Bobby Clarke Hockey
1976 Sandy Hawley Horse Racing
1977 Guy Lafleur Hockey
1978 Ken Read
Graham Smith
Skiing
Swimming
1979 Sandra Post Golf
1980 Terry Fox Marathon of Hope
1981 Susan Nattrass Shooting
1982 Wayne Gretzky Hockey
1983 Wayne Gretzky
Rick Hansen
Hockey
Wheelchair Racing
1984 Gaetan Boucher Speed Skating
1985 Wayne Gretzky Hockey
1986 Ben Johnson Track and Field
1987 Ben Johnson Track and Field
1988 Carolyn Waldo Synchronized Swimming
1989 Wayne Gretzky Hockey
1990 Kurt Browning Figure Skating
1991 Silken Laumann Rowing
1992 Mark Tewksbury Swimming
1993 Mario Lemieux Hockey
1994 Myriam Bédard Biathlon
1995 Jacques Villeneuve Auto Racing
1996 Donovan Bailey Track and Field
1997 Jacques Villeneuve Auto Racing
1998 Larry Walker Baseball
1999 Caroline Brunet Kayak
2000 Daniel Igali Wrestling
2001 Jamie Salé and David Pelletier Figure Skating
2002 Catriona Le May Doan

Speed Skating

2003 Mike Weir Golf
2004 Adam van Koeverden Kayak
2005 Steve Nash Basketball
2006 Cindy Klassen Speed Skating
2007 Sidney Crosby Hockey
2008 Chantal Petitclerc Wheelchair Racing
2009 Sidney Crosby Hockey
2010 Joey Votto Baseball
2011 Patrick Chan Figure Skating
2012 Christine Sinclair Soccer
2013 Jon Cornish Football
2014 Kaillie Humphries Bobsleigh
2015 Carey Price Hockey
2016 Penny Oleksiak Swimming
2017 Joey Votto Baseball
2018 Mikael Kingsbury Freestyle Skiing
2019 Bianca Andreescu Tennis
2020 Alphonso Davies
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
Soccer
Football
2021 Damian Warner Track and Field

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