GO Ottawa! Barbara Ann Scott Gallery

With this kind of inspiration, figure skating dreams can take flight

Do you have young figure skaters (or would-be figure skaters) in the family? Take them to visit the Barbara Ann Scott Gallery in downtown Ottawa. Once the whole country’s sweetheart, Scott accomplished what no Canadian has ever duplicated at the winter Olympics. The pretty young Ottawa girl was the first – and to date only – skater from this country to win gold in figure skating singles competition.

Born in the national capital in 1928, Scott took to the ice at the Minto Skating Club, training for hours each day. In 1940 she was national junior singles champion and went on to win a string of titles – national senior champion, North American champion, European champion and world champion – before going for gold in the Olympic arena. The Olympics had been cancelled in 1940 and 1944 due to the Second World War, so the 1948 winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland drew the eyes of the world. Amongst nearly 670 competitors there were less than 80 women.  Just 19 years old, Scott performed her routines on a rutted, slushy outdoor rink. A plane flew overhead, mid-show. Still, she did not falter, claiming the gold for Canada with a beautiful, spirited performance. When she returned home to Ottawa, some 70,000 people – including prime Minister Mackenzie King – showed up to give her a heroine’s welcome.
Figure skating gained popularity, as did the Barbara Ann Scott doll and in 1955 Scott was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. She was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1991. The sprightly blonde skater with the big blue eyes was Canada’s darling and the exhibition showcases her wonderful accomplishments. Photographs, memorabilia and her gold medal are all included.

You’ll find the show at City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West. Admission is free and it’s open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For details, call 613 580-2857.

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