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InspirationNov 23, 2022

Canada Modern: Historical Sports Logo

From Basketball to Hockey to Baseball, sports is an integral part of modern Canadian life for many. To mark the beginning of the FIFA World Cup and to celebrate Canada History Week, we share Canadian sports logos from the 1960s and 1970s.

Montréal Expos Logo

Gerald Reilly, 1968

Archive: TM44

In May 1968, Major League Baseball accepted a bid from the City of Montréal to add a team within the expansion of the National League. This provided Canada with its first entry into the MLB (the Toronto Blue Jays would not enter the picture for another 9 years) and with that, the the League became ‘international’. The Club, following from the global success of Expo 67 the year before, named themselves the “Montréal Expos”. The club executive of the Expos, who had previously hired Toronto-based Stewart & Morrison, provided a brief to design a distinctive symbol and signature style, as well as design the uniforms.

The result was a new identity which represented a refreshed approach to traditional baseball branding, moving into a more youthful and contemporary interpretation, whilst strongly projecting both the competitive and entertainment aspects of the game. The Expos logo itself is composed of three letters, the largest of which is the overall stylized ‘M’ for Montréal. Represented in the lower left is a lower case ‘e’ for Expos and on the right hand side, is the letter ‘b’ for Baseball. This core symbol remained in use until the club’s relocation to Washington DC in 2005.

Winnipeg Jets Logo

Robert Riddell, 1973

Archive: TM59

The Winnipeg Jets were originally formed on December 27, 1971 and are an NHL hockey team who compete in the Central Division of the Western Conference. While this is not the original Jets logo (the original only lasted one season), it is the logo most synonymous with the original Winnipeg Jets team. It was designed, in Winnipeg, by Eaton’s of Canada Art Director Bob Riddle, who worked in-house on the eighth floor of the Eaton’s Winnipeg Downtown Store.

The roundel was composed of a blue backdrop and key-lined in red. The inside of the roundel features a stylized, hand rendered word mark, flanked by a graphic representation of a jet. The ‘J’ in Jets, designed to resemble a hockey stick, is further juxtaposed with the jet’s red container — also a puck. A particularly nice touch. A version with a white background was introduced in 1979 to work more successfully on the dark uniforms. While the Jets’ logo is not of a modernist aesthetic, its purity, strong use of colour and space make this one of Canada’s most recognized sporting logos of its time.

Games of the XXI Olympiad Montréal 1976 Graphics Manual

Pierre-Yves Pelletier, Raymond Bellemare, 1972

Archive: CM167

Compared to many Olympics Graphics Manuals, Montréal's feels quite industrious — heavy on instruction and less so on colourful, aspirationally-applied graphics and imagery. Instead it provides a clear and confident window into the the design system at work, with painstaking detail and rigor. This purity of concept and practical application feels appropriate, as the budgets invested to develop the identity and support graphics for the Montréal games were much smaller than those spent on Munich or Mexico City.

Huel’s Deputy Pierre-Yves Pelletier and Raymond Bellemare established the standards, grids and colours that resulted in more than 1000 printed pieces and countless other applications that were required for the games. Univers was selected as the typeface following a disagreement between Huel (who favoured Helvetica) and Pelletier. Univers was selected as the more ‘complete’ typeface, and this provided a degree of continuity, having been used both on the Munich Olympics and Montréal’s own Expo67. The extended colour palette was selected through the process of developing the games’ mascot Amik. A rainbow. Chosen for their attractiveness, dynamism, vibrancy and sense of youth.

XI Commonwealth Games Stamps

Stuart Ash RGD Emeritus, 1978

Archive: CM21

The 11th Commonwealth Games, held in Edmonton in 1978, featured cycling, weightlifting, badminton, wrestling, boxing, swimming, shooting, bowls and track & field, including a marathon. Canada had the opportunity to choose a tenth sport for 1978 and selected gymnastics.

These stamps were released as a series of six — 3 X 14¢ and 3 X 30¢. Each designed to work in colour-aligned ‘se-tenant’ pairs, each set against an elegant background of horizontal bands of silver and grey, common to all.

The orange pair depict the Commonwealth Games Stadium on one stamp, and running on the other — designed in such a way that the runners merge into the representation of the track in the stadium. The green pair features the city of Edmonton as symbolized by the Alberta legislature building presented against a stylized version of the foothills of the Rockies on one stamp, and lawn bowling on the other. The red and blue pairs feature the games symbol on one stamp, and badminton on the other. The position of the pictograph figures on the sporting varieties stresses the idea of individual competition.

The games symbol, designed by Edmonton designer Michael Prytula, is derived from four elements: The Canadian maple leaf; the Union Jack (with the red, white and blue colours of the Commonwealth); converging arrows depicting movement to Edmonton and a series of V’s symbolizing the efforts of volunteers who make the Games possible.

Don Hayes Memorial Hockey Game Poster

George W Roth RGD Emeritus, 1978

Archive: CM237

In honour of Don Hayes, a Professor at the University of Waterloo who was instrumental in developing the foundations of the Warrior hockey program and its head coach from 1964 to 1969, the University created an annual memorial fund for high achieving students actively involved in athletics and sports training. This poster promoted a fundraising event for the fund in Don’s beloved sport, Hockey. Designer and head of graphic services at the University, Roth, an obsessive hockey player, created this functional piece in one weight of Helvetica and economically printed in black ink on orange red cover stock. The illustration took cues from the iconography of olympic pictograms. The University of Waterloo still offers the Don Hayes Memorial Award today

List curated by Blair Thomson, Founder and Creative Director, Canada Modern

About Canada Modern

Canada Modern is a physical archive of modernist Canadian graphic design focused on the period 1960-1985. It exists to preserve, document, educate, inspire and build a richer understanding of a seminal point in Canada’s development as a nation. The collection is primarily interested in identity design, typography and graphic communication and is shared online via its own website. We cannot find the way forward without clear knowledge of where we began — perhaps through fostering a greater understanding of Canada’s first golden era of design we can begin the process of heralding a new one.

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