Engraved on a Nation is a documentary series originally airing on The Sports Network (TSN) The series, commissioned by Bell Media, celebrates the 100th Grey Cup with eight 60-minute documentaries demonstrating how one of the oldest trophies in professional sport has played an intrinsic role in shaping Canada’s history and national identity.
TSN unveiled the Engraved on a Nation documentary series at the Hot Docs International Film Festival on May 4, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario. The first documentary in the series, The 13th Man, directed by Larry Weinstein, premiered October 8, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. ET on TSN. Overall, more than 1.5 million Canadians tuned in to watch some or all of the broadcast on TSN, making it the most-watched documentary ever on TSN
The 13th Man, directed by Larry Weinstein – Original air date: Monday, Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m. ET on TSN
The unique love affair between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and their fiercely loyal fans – known as the “13th man” – lives far beyond what happens on the field. On the cusp of winning the 97th Grey Cup, the Roughriders suffered a too many men on the field penalty, a 13th man, that triggered a dramatic defeat. The unprecedented twist in CFL history shattered an entire province and left millions of Canadians heartbroken. In the wake of the team’s Grey Cup defeat, the faithful fans in Riderville staunchly stood by the Roughriders – proving why they have forever been the team’s symbolic “13th man” on the field.
Stone Thrower: The Chuck Ealey Story, directed by Charles Officer – premiered Friday, Oct. 12 at 10:30 p.m. ET on TSN
The revealing and emotional story of how gifted Ohio-born quarterback Chuck Ealey found refuge in Canada and the CFL in the face of racial intolerance in the United States. Ealey, who went undefeated at the quarterback position throughout high school and university, signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1972 and led his team to a Grey Cup victory in his rookie season – becoming the first African-American quarterback to win the CFL’s championship trophy. Along with giving him a place to play the game that he loved, Canada became the place Ealey chose to raise his family, and where he proudly remains rooted today. Ealey recounts his early struggles and successes while his daughter Jael tries to peel away at a reserved man to uncover missing pieces of his story.
The Kid From La Puente, directed by Shelley Saywell – premiered Thursday, Oct. 18 at 9 p.m. ET on TSN
Anthony Calvillo’s inspirational journey from the gang-ridden slums of east L.A. to la Belle Province, where he builds a family and emerges as one of the greatest quarterbacks in Canadian football history is examined in The Kid From La Puente. Narrated by Calvillo's younger brother Mario, this classic against-all-odds story examines how he pushed through repeated obstacles – on and off the field – to lead the Montreal Alouettes to its first Grey Cup in 25 years in 2002. For the first time ever, the three-time Grey Cup champion opens up about passing life’s hardest tests as a kid in La Puente to becoming a devoted family man in Montreal – earning the title of football’s all-time leading passer in the process.
Playing a Dangerous Game, directed by John Walker – premiered Friday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. ET on TSN
As tensions heightened during the Quebec FLQ conflict in 1969, CFL commissioner Jake Gaudaur not only planned to hold the Grey Cup in Montreal for the first time since 1931, but he invited the FLQ’s arch-enemy, Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Elliot Trudeau, to perform the ceremonial kick-off at the beginning of the game. Gaudaur, a passionate Canadian nationalist with a vision of football as a unifying force, may not have fully understood what he was getting himself into. Russ Jackson, the Canadian-born quarterback hero of the Ottawa Rough Riders, oblivious to the dangers plaguing Montreal, knew exactly what he had to do. This was the last game of his illustrious career and he was determined to beat Saskatchewan in what was destined to be one of the greatest games in CFL history against a complicated backdrop of political unrest.
The Crash, directed by Paul Cowan – premiered Friday, Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. ET on TSN
Before the birth of the modern day Grey Cup in 1958 there was an annual East vs. West All-Star game. In 1956, Vancouver’s Empire Field hosted the annual game, which was followed by arguably the greatest tragedy in CFL history. A flight carrying five All-Star players crashed into a mountain in BC, killing everyone on board. The tragedy sent shockwaves through the CFL and ripped the heart out of the league. For Calgary Stampeders Edwin Harrison’s family, the impact of the crash is still felt to this day. Harrison’s grandfather Calvin Jones was on his way to becoming one of the greatest offensive linemen to ever play football when he died in the crash. Now, more than 50 years later, Harrison embarks on an emotional journey – from Calgary, to Texas, to Ohio, and finally to the crash site – to piece together a family both connected and torn apart by football.
The Photograph, directed by Manfred Becker – premiered Friday, Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. ET on TSN
Football was an important distraction for Canadians during the dark days of the Second World War. When the Toronto Royal Canadian Air Force Hurricanes won the 1942 Grey Cup, it boosted the morale of a country deeply affected by war. After their victory, many Hurricanes were sent overseas to fight, but the brotherhood forged during the Grey Cup would live on. The Hurricanes’ Jake Gaudaur, a flight instructor who stayed behind in Canada, was devastated when many of his teammates became casualties of war. Determined to honour their memory, Gaudaur dedicated his life to the CFL and became the league’s longest serving commissioner. Growing up, his daughters Jackie and Diane Gaudaur always wondered why their father’s prized possession was a tattered photograph of his old team. Now 70 years later, Jackie and Diane embark on an emotional and revealing quest to discover why the Hurricanes and the old team photo were so important to their father and ultimately to the rest of the country.
Western Swagger, directed by Barry Greenwald – premiered Friday, Nov. 16 at 10 p.m. ET on TSN
Western Swagger is as much a story of political drama as football. While the discovery of oil in Alberta solidified Canada as an energy superpower during the 1970s and 80s, the province’s prowess on the gridiron was being ignited by the Edmonton Eskimos’ unprecedented five consecutive Grey Cup titles. With the mighty Eskimos dominating on the field, former Eskimo and Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed battled Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in the boardroom over the National Energy Program, which risked putting Alberta’s economy in a dangerous tailspin and tipping the country on a brink of constitutional chaos. Western Swagger demonstrates Alberta’s unshakable determination on and off the football field and the beginnings of an East vs. West rivalry that can still be felt today.
The Greatest Team That Never Won, directed by Christie Callan-Jones – premiered Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. ET on TSN
It was a magical moment in time. The mavericks from the 1971 Toronto Argonauts captivated a city that was shedding its “Toronto the Good” image and coming alive both on and off the gridiron. After a 20-year drought, Canada’s oldest football franchise was determined to bring the Grey Cup home. Legendary CFL coach Leo Cahill spent a fortune on a young and wild roster, fielding one of the league’s most colourful teams with characters like Tricky Dick Thornton, Dave Raimey, Jim Stillwagon, Gene Mack, Leon McQuay and Joe Theismann. With the adoration of a city behind them, the team made it to the 1971 Grey Cup – only to have their championship dream fade away on a last-minute fumble. For the first time since the infamous fumble, the stars of the 1971 Argos reunite to relive the game that changed their lives forever and to remember those wild and heady days in Toronto.
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