Field Hockey Canada is proud to induct Margaret McLean into the Builder’s Category of this year’s Hall of Fame. A pioneer whose legacy is now solidified, McLean has had an impact on the sport which is undeniable. Judy McLean, Margaret’s daughter, is in awe of how her legacy is being acknowledged at the national level, decades since her passing.
“To see my mother being honoured at this stage, 50 years after she died shows what a mark she made on people’s lives for those who remember her,” said McLean.
Dedication to sport
Born and raised in East Vancouver, McLean was passionate about sports from an early age. She played tennis and grass hockey at Britannia High School and went on to play fullback for the Britannia Team, (also called “Ex-Brits”) in the League for the Greater Vancouver Women’s Grass Hockey Association, (GVWGHA). In 1949, McLean was named the first recipient of the Watson trophy, an honour bestowed annually upon a GVWGHA player for outstanding ability and good sportsmanship.
McLean was also a highly rated umpire as she was part of a pioneering group of women who set up the first BC Ratings Board in 1952. This eventually became the template for the Canadian Board. She later gained her international rating and received an invitation to the Tournament Umpiring Committee for the 1975 International in Edinburgh. Although she was unable to attend, this was an amazing achievement. It is attested to McLean’s work as a National Umpire Course Conductor and Assessor, and Canada for its high national standard of umpiring.
Taking part in Canadian history
In the 1950’s, McLean was able to represent Canada as the GVWGHA had been granted “Associate Membership” in the International Federation of Women’s Hockey Associations (IFWHA). As President of the GVWGHA in 1955, McLean oversaw the vote to send a team to Australia for the 1956 World Tournament. As the Association’s finance chair, she orchestrated fundraising efforts that would amass the equivalent of $165,000 in today’s currency to help get the team to Australia.
McLean was named Vice-Captain of that team, which became the first Canadian field hockey squad to represent Canada on a global stage. The team was eventually inducted into the FHC Hall of Fame in the class of 2021. She also served in the same capacity for the 1959 team which played in the international tournament in Holland.
McLean usually played fullback; but when the 1959 team lacked a goalkeeper, she took on the challenge of learning that position. She was a proud member of that second team to represent Canada abroad, and enjoyed touring Britain for six weeks and playing in the World Tournament in Amsterdam as the Canadian goalie.
In 1964, McLean coached the Point Grey Secondary School field hockey teams. In that capacity she was not just remembered for helping that team be tournament finalists in 1969, but also for the many life lessons she gave back to others. “They all just adored Marg!” said Gerry Gilmore, a member of the Point Grey coaching staff.
Turning a vision into reality
McLean dreamed of establishing a national governing body that would include all provinces and give each one the opportunity to participate in national team selection tournaments.
In 1962, McLean’s vision became a reality as she played an instrumental role in founding the Canadian Women’s Field Hockey Association (CWFHA). Her leadership and determination led her to being elected the association’s first President, a position she’d been very deserving of given her hard work for the GVWGHA.
As the first president of the CFWHA, McLean strongly supported the selection of the first truly Canadian Women’s Field Hockey Team to participate in the 1963 IWFHA World Tournament in Baltimore. She served as the Canadian Delegate in that capacity.
McLean’s national impact continued, as she had long espoused the merits of a Canadian national event. When several like-minded people in Ontario finally agreed to support a national tournament, Margaret organized it in Vancouver, and invited the East (Ontario), to bring two teams to play the West’s (BC) two teams, in May 1965. In 1968, her executive abilities led her to becoming runner-up for the Air Canada “Executive of the Year” award in Organized Amateur Sport. She was the first woman ever to be among the final nominees for the award.
Leaving a lasting legacy
Her influence persisted even after her passing in 1975. Today’s leaders in Canadian Women’s Field Hockey acknowledge her transformative contributions with admiration. “Her whole life was field hockey, she was a mentor for young women, a caring young person who gave all she could, to her family, her sport, and I hope I can live up to her,” said Judy McLean.
Margaret McLean’s individual induction into the Hall of Fame is not just a recognition of her remarkable achievements, but a celebration of her enduring legacy, one that continues to inspire generations of athletes and leaders. She remains an emblem of dedication, determination, and unwavering commitment to the growth of women’s field hockey in Canada.