A player in the Canadian Football League will be recognized this year for embodying the spirit of Canada’s veterans with a new trophy dedicated to outstanding player and executive Jake Gaudaur.
Canadian Football League Commissioner Mark Cohon was joined by Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn and Jake Gaudaur’s daughter, Jackie Gaudaur, in unveiling the trophy at a ceremony Aug. 20 at the Moss Park Armoury in Toronto. The ceremony was attended by members of Canada’s veterans organizations, including Dominion Treasurer Michael Cook, representing The Royal Canadian Legion.
“The Jake Gaudaur Veterans’ Award is a great example of the legacies that can be created when we work with others to engage more Canadians in remembrance,” said Blackburn. “Being a veteran himself and a longtime CFL commissioner, Mr. Gaudaur was known for many of the same attributes Canadian veterans are still known for today: strength, perseverance, comradeship, courage and contribution to community.”
The annual trophy is to be awarded for the first time by the Canadian Football League and Veterans Affairs Canada before a game in November as part of the league’s 2010 Veterans’ Tribute. The trophy is supported by VAC through its Community Engagement Partnership Fund.
After the presentation, a regular season game will be played featuring the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.
“There is a long history between the CFL and Canada’s veterans. Three Grey Cups have been won by teams made up of Canada’s military and we have taken the Grey Cup to Kandahar,” Cohon told Legion Magazine.
“A group of us met with the family after Jake passed on and came up with the idea. It seemed like a natural. Jake was a veteran and a real leader in the community,” said Cohon. “We want to give the trophy to someone who shows leadership on the field and has those attributes we see in our veterans.”
Jake Gaudaur was born in Orillia, Ont., in 1920 and was an all-around athlete in high school. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Jake Gaudaur Senior, as a national rowing champion and an excellent lacrosse player.
He began playing football in 1940 with the Hamilton Tigers and later played for the Toronto Argonauts.
During the Second World War, Gaudaur joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and served as a pilot.
Between 1942 and 1944 the Grey Cup was played by members of Canada’s armed forces in order to boost morale in the troops as well as at home. Gaudaur was with the Toronto RCAF Hurricanes when they beat the Winnipeg RCAF Bombers 8-5 in a snowy game at Varsity Stadium in Toronto in 1942.
After the war, Gaudaur played for Toronto and Montreal before returning to the Hamilton Tigers which merged with the Hamilton Flying Wildcats in 1950 to become the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He moved into management positions, but was still playing with the team when they won the Grey Cup in 1953.
He was president and general manager of the team when it won Grey Cups in 1957, 1963, 1965 and 1967. He then went on to be CFL commissioner from 1968 to 1984 where he was widely respected. He was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada in 1985 and inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.
Gaudaur died in Burlington, Ont., Dec. 4, 2007, of prostate cancer. He was 87.
The trophy itself features the image of a football on a pedestal with maple leaves and poppies. The stone in the base is from the same stone used on the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France.