In the early 1960's, the indigenous children of Canada's Arctic still had one foot firmly planted in their parents' cultures. Though they attended schools, any spare time was still dedicated to their their traditional lives of hunting, fishing, and trapping. An oblate father recognized that these kids were not only physically strong, but mentally and spiritually as well. And they had stamina, man did they have stamina. He went on a hunch and invited a few of them to try out the sport of cross country skiing. What happened floored him; the children were naturals; they had balance, and an athlete's form. And speed. Man did they have speed. Like they'd been doing it all along. This was the beginning of a cross country skiing dynasty which stunned the world, reaching its zenith when five of the nine athletes on the 1972 Canada Olympic team, were from the north.
The Delta Connector. From left to right, Sharon Firth, Anita Allen, Roseanne Allen, Shirley Firth [top row, L to R]: Bjorger Pettersen (coach), Fred Kelly, Roger Allen, Malcolm Hunter. Five of these skiers
would go on to represent Canada at the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sopporo Japan, including Roger Allen. I just had supper with him and his partner Libby. He told me how a bunch of kids went from the Mackenzie Delta, to the top of the sporting world. It doesn't get any better than that. I love a good movie, a good book, and a good stiff drink of tea, but I love nothing more than listening to a good story.