National Treasure #88: Normie Kwong

What I know about feng shui would not fill a gnat’s bellybutton, but I do know that numbers have significance. The numeral 8, apparently, stands for infinity, abundance, and success in business.

So who better to choose for National Treasure #88 than a Chinese-Canadian who had a successful sporting, business, and public service career? Talk about abundance.

Coming from Edmonton and Calgary, I would of course think of Normie Kwan, aka Norman Lim Kwan, aka the China Clipper, who played fullback for both the Edmonton Eskimos and the Calgary Stampeders. He wasn’t a big guy – online sites give his height as 5′ 7″ or 5′ 9″ – but he set 30 records in the Canadian Football League.

Born in Calgary, Normie was the son of Chinese immigrants who paid a head tax to get to Canada. He was the first Chinese-Canadian to play pro football in Canada, and the first Chinese-Canadian to serve as an Alberta Lieutenant-Governor.

It’s hard to believe that we are still so close to those days–the days of “firsts” for people of colour–but we are. Here’s the CBC News coverage of Normie’s death, at 86, in 2016. Here’s the coverage from a site called 3DownNation, which has a more personal touch.


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6 Responses to National Treasure #88: Normie Kwong

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    I must have been a teenager when Normie played fullback for the Esks. He may have been only 5’8″, but he was built like a fire hydrant. The impressive thing, on those early days of televised sports, was that he never quit pushing. He must have had legs like a D8 Caterpillar. He’d disappear under a mound of tacklers, and as the officials sorted out the pile, there was Normie on the bottom flat on the grass with his legs still pushing him ahead, gaining maybe a yard while invisible. Maybe there’s a life lesson in there somewhere — even when you’re down, you can make some gains.
    Jim T

  2. Laurna Tallman says:

    Many are the life lessons in this story and in Jim’s reply and thank you for them!

  3. Jim Robertson says:

    I didn’t know he played for the Stampeders, but then I checked his playing dates there: 1948-50. That explains it….
    He played for the Esks from 51-60.

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