Ice hockey is Canada’s national game. Children learn the sport when they are very young, playing on local rinks or playing ball hockey in their neighbourhoods. Most towns have hockey teams and larger cities have professional teams. Watching "Hockey Night in Canada" on television is a tradition for many Canadians. Professional teams from across North America compete for the Stanley Cup trophy. Canada’s most famous player was Wayne Gretzky, known as "The Great One". He and other hockey stars have their pictures and uniforms preserved in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

The sport of lacrosse was invented by the indigenous peoples. Each team has ten players. They use a stick with a net pocket at the end to catch and pass a hard ball. Canada has hosted both the summer Olympics (Montreal, 1976) and the winter Olympics (Calgary, 1988). Canadian athletes include world-class swimmers, skiers, curlers, skaters, rowers and track and field stars.

Canadians enjoy watching professional football, basketball and baseball. Soccer is becoming increasingly popular, and many Canadians follow the World Cup with great excitement.

In the winter Canadians enjoy downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, skating, snowboarding, tobogganing and curling. Curling is played on a long icy surface called a curling rink. Curlers heave heavy circular rocks toward a target on the ice. Brooms are used to smooth the ice and speed the rocks along.

Canadians celebrate the summer by heading to Canada’s beaches, lakes and rivers. Many go to cottages or camps on isolated lakes. Canoeing, kayaking, swimming, fishing and water-skiing are popular summer pastimes. There are large national and provincial parks across Canada where the natural environment is protected. People visit these parks to camp, hike, swim, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

  Did you know?
In 1980 amateur athlete Terry Fox attempted to run across Canada and raise money to find a cure for cancer after he lost his right leg to the disease. He died of cancer before he could finish his run. Every fall Canadians from coast to coast uphold his dream by jogging, walking and running to raise money for cancer research.

  Did you know?
Canadian James Naismith invented basketball in 1891. For the first game, he used peach baskets nailed to a gymnasium balcony.