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1955 Grey Cup Had Amazing Opening Ceremony

I’m extremely ignorant about the CFL, so maybe what I’m about to write here is common knowledge in Canada. If so, my apologies for that. But either way, I’m pretty sure most Uni Watch readers will enjoy this post.

So: The 1955 Grey Cup game — that’s the CFL’s Super Bowl — was played in Vancouver and featured Edmonton facing the Montreal Alouettes. The mayors of Montreal and Edmonton were both on hand for the game, and the Edmonton mayor, William Hawrelak, held the football for a ceremonial pregame placekick by Hugh “Bull” Ritchie, who had kicked off the ball to begin the first Grey Cup game in 1909. Check it out:

Wow — that video clip is only 14 seconds long, but it has so many interesting details! For example:

  • Mayor Hawrelak’s jacket, based on a Hudson Bay point blanket, was completely amazing! (There was another guy on hand wearing the same jacket, but it’s not clear who what was.)
  • I love the game officials’ white caps with black striping on the seams.
  • Most of all, I’m intrigued by the notion of a ceremonial first kick, sort of like the football version of a first pitch in baseball. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ritual like this prior to a football game. Was it once common for Grey Cups, or in the CFL in general, or even in American football? If anyone knows more, please fill us un!

(My thanks to longtime reader Jeremy Brahm for bringing this video to my attention.)


Comments (17)

    Great post. I’m also digging Bull Ritchie’s sweater with the T on it. I assume he played for the U of Toronto Varsity Blues in that game.

    The CFL has a long tradition of ceremonial kickoffs, dating back to at least 1922.

    Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau at the 1970 Grey Cup: link

    Terry Fox, Canada Day 1980: link

    John Candy, Sasketchewan, August 1991: link

    Here is some more film from that 1955 Grey Cup. First Grey Cup in Western Canada. Pregame and the parade.


    Ceremonial Grey Cup kick-off is a thing. Here is another one from 1970. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau with the kick. During that brief period the Montreal Alouettes wore green uniforms.


    Here’s some fun footage from the 1975 Grey Cup. Pierre Trudeau showing up with his son Justin, everyone with a Hudson Bay blanket to stay warm.


    I saw a Hudson Bay wool coat in a vintage store a couple weeks ago. They still make the blankets but not the coats. I’ve had a blanket for 30+ years and its the warmest thing I’ve ever owned.

    Typo: Hawrelak, not Hawerlak

    1975 Grey Cup in Calgary. First Grey Cup hosted on the Prairies. Also with Edmonton against Montreal. Really cold game but the temperature didn’t stop the streaker.


    Thanks! I haven’t memorized the spelling of all the Edmonton mayors names, but there’s a pretty big park named after him down by the river so it caught my eye.

    Think of some of the worst first pitches you’ve seen in MLB over the years. No image that on an NFL field. Snoop Dogg shanking a kick into some cheerleader’s nose, Carly Rae Jepson kicking it directly into the groud, Conor McGregor bonking an equipment cart on the sideline. This has to be instituted in time for 2024 Opening Weekend.


    History of the Hudson Bay Company Point Blanket coat. Who knew Canadian Olympic teams used them as parade gear for the Winter Olympic Games of the 60s!

    Thanks for this post. Really loved it because it seems like a sincerely fun moment and the inclusion of the Mayors really brings out the civic pride at stake. Could you imagine this in today’s NFL? It would be sponsored to the hilt. “Stay tuned for the beer company kickoff brought to you by beer company in conjunction with insurance company. We’ll return to corporate name stadium to see Kim Kardashian handle the beer company kickoff after these messages. You’re listening to the automaker pregame show.”

    Soccer has ceremonial kickoffs too. I would love to see 2 celebrities for a ceremonial tipoff.

    Great post and that wonderful jacket reminds me of the short lived existence of the Hudson;s Bay department store here in the Netherlands. These colors were basically their logo.

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