Asian Heritage Month-CFACI | Virtual Museum of Asian Canadian Cultural Heritage (VMACCH)

Norman L. Kwong

The Honourable Norman L. Kwong

People, East Asian, Politics and Law, Profiles

“Over the years, I’ve had the tremendous honour of breaking new ground as the first Chinese Canadian to play in the Canadian Football League and as the first person of Chinese heritage to serve as the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta. I hope that I’ve been able to show young people that we all can make a difference. It’s important to be proud of the unique perspectives that come from our cultural heritage as well as the collective strengths and identity that we are so privileged to enjoy as Canadians.”

The Honourable Norman L. Kwong
For the Virtual Museum of Asian Canadian Cultural Heritage website
November 2008

The Honourable Norman L. Kwong, CM, AOE, KSt, was installed as Alberta’s 16th Lieutenant Governor on 20 January 2005. He was the first person of Chinese heritage to serve as Lieutenant Governor in Alberta.

One of six children, Mr. Kwong was born in Calgary to Chinese immigrants Charles and Lily Kwong. He completed his secondary schooling at Western Canada High School in Calgary where he discovered his talent for football. In 1948, at the age of 18, he joined the Calgary Stampeders Football Club as a halfback. That year, he became the first Chinese Canadian to play in the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the youngest player to win a Grey Cup.

After three years with the Stampeders, Mr. Kwong was traded to the Edmonton Eskimos, where he spent 10 years and won three more Grey Cup championships. He was chosen to receive the All-Canadian Fullback award five times and won the Schenley Award as the Most Outstanding Canadian in 1955 and 1956. In 1955, he was also selected as Canada’s Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year. By the time of his retirement in 1960, Mr Kwong held over 30 CFL records. He was a member of the Canada Sports Hall of Fame, the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, and the Edmonton Sports Hall of Fame.

Upon his retirement from the CFL, Mr. Kwong moved to the private sector and spent the next few decades in sales, mainly in commercial real estate. He eventually became Vice President and General Manager of Torode Realty.

From 1988 to 1991, Mr. Kwong served as President and General Manager of the Calgary Stampeders. He was also co-owner of the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames from 1980 to 1994, during which time the Flames won the Stanley Cup Championship (1989). He is among only a few Canadians to have won both the Grey Cup and the Stanley Cup as a player, manager or owner.

A popular dinner speaker and Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Kwong spoke in support of numerous non-profit organizations across the nation from Vancouver to Halifax. He was a former National Chairman of the Canadian Consultative Council on Multiculturalism (1979–80) and also served as Honourary Chairman of the Easter Seal Campaign in Calgary (1982–84).

Mr. Kwong was a Member of the Order of Canada (1998) and was Chancellor of the Alberta Order of Excellence (2005). In May 2005, Queen Elizabeth II appointed him Knight of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. In June 2006, he received a Honourary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Alberta. The Canadian Embassy in Beijing dedicated their gymnasium to Mr. Kwong in recognition of his tremendous contributions to Canadian football and to sportsmanship. In appreciation of his participation in bringing the Flames hockey team to Calgary, donors endowed the Normie Kwong Bursary in Medicine at the University of Calgary, which is given annually to a student in financial need.

Lieutenant Governor Kwong and his wife, Mary, were married in 1960 and they raised four sons. Norman Kwong passed away in Calgary on 03 September 2016.

The Virtual Museum of Asian Canadian Cultural Heritage (VMAACH) was made possible with the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Canadian Culture Online Strategy.