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Gordie Howe

A Childhood On The Canadian Prairie

Born in the small farming town of Floral, Saskatchewan, Canada on March 31, 1928, Gordon Howe grew up in nearby Saskatoon with his eight brothers and sisters. His father, Albert Howe, had just given up a life of farming at the time of his son's birth and subsequently worked as a mechanic and construction worker, finally achieving the position of superintendent of maintenance for the City of Saskatoon. Money was tight in the Howe household during the Great Depression and his mother, Katherine Schultz Howe, could sometimes only feed the family oatmeal porridge for each meal. When he was five years old, Gordie Howe developed a health-threatening calcium deficiency in part caused by his family's poverty. In addition to taking vitamins to correct the problem, Howe began to exercise regularly to improve his bone and muscle strength. His dedication to a demanding physical regimen would later prove crucial in the longevity of his career, particularly after suffering some major injuries during his first years in the NHL.

Like most boys growing up on the Canadian Prairie, Howe played hockey with his friends during the long winters on any frozen surface. He got his first pair of skates after his mother gave a dollar-and-a-half to a neighbor whose husband was hospitalized; in exchange, Mrs. Howe got a sack filled with assorted odd items, including a pair of skates. Although they were far too large for him, Howe put on several pairs of socks and spent all day out on the ice. After he outgrew them, Howe sometimes had to strap blades onto his street shoes in lieu of proper skates. Although he was at times embarrassed by his lack of equipment, Howe increasingly turned to hockey as his refuge as he was growing up. After failing the third grade twice, he was often the target of teasing at school and developed into an introverted teenager.

Chronology

1928 Born March 31 in Floral, Saskatchewan, Canada
1943 Plays for Saskatoon Lions
1946 Begins playing for Detroit Red Wings
1953 Marries Colleen Joffa
1971 Announces retirement from professional hockey
1973 Signs contract with World Hockey Association's Houston Aeros
1979 Returns to NHL with Hartford Whalers
1980 Retires from professional hockey
1997 Returns to play one game for Detroit Vipers

Awards and Accomplishments

1951-54, 1957 Art Ross Trophy as top scorer in NHL
1952-53, 1957-58, 1960, 1963 Hart Trophy as NHL's Most Valuable Player
1963 Named Canadian Athlete of the Year
1967 Lester Patrick Trophy, for service to U.S. hockey
1971 Received Order of Canada
1972 Induction into the International Hockey Hall of Fame
2001 Named Michiganian of the Year (with Colleen Howe) by Detroit News

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsHockeyGordie Howe Biography - A Childhood On The Canadian Prairie, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, Signs With The Red Wings