July 4, 2020

Top 10 Exclusive : Top Canadians

Andrew Harris (33) of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after winning the 107th Grey Cup game between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, AB, Sunday, November. 24, 2019. (Photo: Johany Jutras/CFL)

The Winnipeg Football Club has 90 years of history to celebrate, dating way back to the days of leather helmets and the Great Depression.

Over that time, there have been countless great plays authored by superstar players… and average Joes, too. There have been memorable games featuring iconic moments and, dating back to 1930, this franchise has captured a Grey Cup championship 11 times.

Each week Ed Tait of cracks open the record book, dusts off the archives and dives deep into our collective memory banks for our Top 10 Exclusive list.

Chris Walby Winnipeg Blue Bombers 1989. Photo John Bradley

This week: Top Canadians

Homegrown talent is the core of any championship side and over the years, the Bombers have seen some outstanding Canadians pull on their colours.

The names on this list and the order is entirely debatable, of course, and it is so deep that we’re leaving off some outstanding candidates like Gerald Wilcox, Steve Patrick, Ken Nielsen, Rick House, Jeff Nicklin and Eddie James… to name but a few.

So, in honour of Canada Day, pull up a patio chair and let’s get this discussion started as we trot out our list of the Top 10 Canadians in Bombers history (birthplace in brackets)…

  1. Chris Walby, (Winnipeg, Mb.) – A Canadian Football Hall of Famer, he was named to nine CFL All-Star teams in his career – more than any other Bomber – and is arguably the greatest lineman in league history.
  2. Gerry James (Regina, SK.) – A graduate of Kelvin HS, James made the Bombers roster at age 17 and was the inaugural winner of the CFL Most Outstanding Player Award in 1954 – he won again in 1957. He played in six Grey Cups, winning four. Oh, and he appeared in 164 games, including playoffs, with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
  3. Doug Brown (New Westminster, B.C.) – A tough, tough hombre who was a seven-time All-Star, the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian in 2001 and is in both the Canadian Football and Winnipeg Football Club Halls of Fame.
  4. Joe Poplawski (Edmonton, Alta.) – A five-time CFL All-Star, ‘Joe Pop’ was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie in 1978, the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian in 1981 and 1986 and the Bombers nominee six times – all before retiring at the age of 29.
  5. Andrew Harris (Winnipeg, Mb.) – He spent the first chunk of his career in B.C., but has piled up the awards since coming back home in 2016 with three straight rushing crowns, the CFL’s top Canadian award in 2017 and both the MVP and top Canadian honours from last year’s Grey Cup.
  6. Bob Cameron (Ancaster, Ont.) – Hall of fame punter played until he was 48 and holds the league iron-man streak at 353 consecutive games played. Four-time CFL All-Star and the top Canadian in the 1988 Grey Cup.
  7. John Bonk (Stoney Creek, Ont.) – He was steady for so long for the Bombers. A Canadian Football Hall of Famer, he was the CFL’s top O-lineman in 1984 and a four-time All-Star.
  8. Troy Westwood (Dauphin, Mb.) – The franchise’s all-time leading scorer, a WFC Hall of Famer and the inspiration behind the Banjo Bowl.
  9. Rick House (Burnaby, B.C.) – Served two tours with the Bombers, winning Grey Cups in ’84 and ’88, is a member of the club’s hall of fame and ranks fifth in all-time receiving yards.
  10. Cornel Piper (Ardmore, Alta.) – Bomber Hall of famer who won four Grey Cups over an 11-year career with the club and often raved about by the legendary Bud Grant.