From World Wars through world competitions, Canadian shooters have distinguished themselves among the elite.
Canada’s shooting history isn’t filled with as many famous (and infamous) gun-slingers as our neighbours to the south. We don’t have legendary figures like Wild Bill Hickock or Annie Oakley.
However, what Canada may lack in folklore it makes up for in marksmanship. Canadian shooters have left their mark among the world’s finest military snipers and as medal-winners in international competitions. Some names are well-known and worth celebrating for their recent accomplishments. Other names have been forgotten, but are worth remembering for the important role they played in our nation’s history.
Indigenous Peoples in Canada accounted for a surprising number of top snipers during the First World War. Having spent their childhood trapping and hunting, these indigenous soldiers honed their skills early and gave Canada’s smaller military a disproportionately large presence in marksmanship.
Francis Pegahmagabow was from northern Ontario who became known as one of the First World War’s top snipers. An expert marksman and scout, he was awarded the Military Medal three times as well as being seriously wounded in the war.
After the war, he became the chief and councillor for the Wasauksing First Nation, and was an activist for various First Nations organizations.
Henry Louis Norwest
Henry Louis Norwest was a Métis sharpshooter who was born in Alberta of French-Cree ancestry. After an early career as a rodeo performer and ranch hand, Norwest enlisted in the Canadian Infantry, eventually becoming a lance-corporal. Norwest possessed the ideal skills required of a sniper – he was an excellent shot, with an ability to stay still for long periods, and perfect camouflage techniques. He was fearless, taking on the most dangerous missions in No Man’s Land and even slipping behind enemy lines. Norwest was awarded the Military Medal for skill and bravery during the battle on Vimy Ridge. He was killed by sniper fire in 1918, in France.
In recent times, notable Canadian shooters have featured prominently in international competitions.
Lynda Kiejko started shooting at 11, benefitting from close family mentorship from her Olympian father and sister. Lynda and her sister, Dorothy Ludwig, competed together at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games, winning the bronze in the 10m air pistol pair event. Kiejko has two gold medals and one bronze at the Pan Am Games, and won the national title in 2014, one month after giving birth.
Kiejko won gold at the 2018 Continental American Championships, qualifying her for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the only Canadian shooter at the games.
Dr. Susan “Sue” Marie Nattrass, OC is a winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canadian Athlete of the Year in 1981 and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. She is a member of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame.
Dr. Nattrass has been an elite international trap shooter since the 1970s. The Medicine Hat native is a repeat World Champion and repeat medalist at the Commonwealth Games, World Championships (gold medal in 1974, ’75, ’77, ’78, ’79, ’81, and 2006), and Pan American Games (2007 gold medal). She represented Canada in the Olympics six times, in 1976, ’88, ’92, 2000, ’04 and ’08, one of only 122 athletes in all sports to have competed in the games that often.
She is a medical researcher in osteoporosis.
Tracey Wilson is one of Canada’s most powerful voices for gun advocacy. As one of the founding members of the Canadian Coalition of Firearms Rights and its current Vice-President of Public Relations, Wilson is the face of Canada’s gun lobby. She’s active on Twitter and has been interviewed in countless articles, as well as on TV and radio.
Outspoken and engaging, Wilson is an avid hunter and competitive shooter, as well as a proud military mom. She earned her IPSC Canada Black Badge training and recently attended the CAPS threat-management, Use of Force firearms training.
Whether defending the country at war, competing in tournaments, or speaking out for gun owners, Canada’s professional shooters can take pride in a century of world-class achievements.
For more Canadian Gunnie culture and gear, be sure to check out our CGS Magazine, by clicking the link to subscribe.