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Canadian History for Kids: Foster Hewitt

March 23, 1923 – Hockey – Foster Hewitt announces his First hockey game.

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive, looks at the amazing career of Foster Hewitt.

“He shoots, and he scores!” With those words, legendary hockey broadcaster Foster Hewitt united Canada each Saturday night. From his first broadcast to the historic Summit Series of 1972 and beyond, Hewitt was Canada’s voice of hockey for half a century.

Foster Hewitt was literally born into sports. His father, William A., was sports editor of The Toronto Star, manager of the Toronto Rugby Football Club and secretary of the Ontario Hockey Association.

Through the school year, Foster and his family lived on Roxborough Street in Toronto’s Rosedale neighbourhood, but from May until September, the Hewitts lived on the Toronto Islands, where the family enjoyed watching baseball games and lacrosse contests, starting an interest in sports that remained with Foster throughout his life.

After months of successful experiments, the Toronto Daily Star’s radio station signed on the air officially on June 22, 1922. CFCA occupied two rooms in the Star building in Toronto. Foster was hired as a staff announcer, often also setting up the equipment for remote broadcasts at local churches.

Now the big debate!

The Star decided that broadcasting live hockey games was worth a gamble. And the first game was announced by Foster at the Arena Gardens (later known as the Mutual Street Arena), first recapping periods one and two of an intermediate contest between Kitchener and the Toronto Argonauts, then live play-by-play of the third period.

Foster wrote in his autobiography that the date was March 23rd 1923. But records have indicated that there wasn’t a game that night!

Others have learned the first game was probably announced February 16thy, 1923 from the arena.

Canadian History for Kids has learned that Foster performed the play-by-play using a telephone mouthpiece from within a tiny, enclosed glass booth at ice level that continually fogged up, obstructing Hewitt’s view of the contest.

For forty years, Hewitt was Canada’s leading hockey play-by-play broadcaster for the General Motors (later Imperial Oil) Hockey Broadcast on Saturday nights. This show on Canadian national radio featured the Maple Leafs from Maple Leaf Gardens, and Hewitt became famous for the phrase “He shoots, he scores!” as well as his sign-on at the beginning of each broadcast, “Hello, Canada, and hockey fans in the United States and Newfoundland.”

And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!

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