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Winnipeg Falcons’ legacy lives on in new Heritage Minute

WINNIPEG — Almost 100 years later and memories of the world’s first Olympic hockey champions are still alive.

A new Heritage Minute produced by Historica Canada launched at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto Thursday. The video honours the Winnipeg Falcons, a team that wasn’t supposed to win the very first gold medal in hockey at the 1920 Olympics.

“The team was like a machine,” said Brian Johannesson, son of defenceman Konrad Johannesson.

The Falcons were group of Icelandic-Canadians who wanted to play hockey but were excluded from regular leagues because of their ethnicity, so they created their own club.“Like many new Canadians, they dressed different, they spoke different, they ate different things,” said Rich Brownlee, sport heritage manager at Sport Manitoba’s Hall of Fame.Many of the players grew up along Sargent Avenue in Winnipeg’s West End in the early 1900s. The area was full of Icelandic settlers and new Canadians.The club was broken apart in 1917 when they went to fight for Canada in the First World War. When they came back to Winnipeg in 1919 the players reunited and dominated in Manitoba.“The whole team being in the army learned the power of self-discipline and acting together,” said Johannesson.After winning the Allan Cup in Toronto as underdogs, they went on to represent Canada at the Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium. The rest is history and the subject of a new Canadian Heritage Minute.WATCH: Historica Canada’s Winnipeg Falcons Heritage Minute
“They honoured the fact they won it in the way they conducted themselves,” said Dan Johnson, chairman of Falcons Forever committee. “They didn’t seek fortune and fame from what they accomplished, they were just sort of playing hockey.” The Falcons legacy now lives on in Hall of Fame displays across the country.PHOTO GALLERY: Winnipeg Falcons moments in history
A team picture of the Falcon Hockey Club kept by Konrad Johannesson's wife in a scrapbook.
A team picture of the Falcon Hockey Club kept by Konrad Johannesson's wife in a scrapbook. Credit: Brian Johannesson
The Winnipeg Falcons team gathered together for a group photo.
The Winnipeg Falcons team gathered together for a group photo. Credit: Brian Johannesson
One of the many newspaper articles published after the Falcons won the Olympic gold medal.
One of the many newspaper articles published after the Falcons won the Olympic gold medal. Credit: Brian Johannesson
The original mural of the winning team that hangs in the Sport Manitoba building.
The original mural of the winning team that hangs in the Sport Manitoba building. Shannon Cuciz/ Global News
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