The Canadian Museum of History is proud to announce the acquisition of the Rick Hansen Man In Motion World Tour Collection. Spanning Hansen’s early athletic career and life on Tour, the collection includes 1,700 artifacts, and thousands of behind-the-scenes videos, photographs and documents.
Donated by Rick Hansen to the Museum in May 2020, this important collection reflects the unparalleled achievement of a Canadian hero, and his activism for greater access and inclusion for people with disabilities.
“Great societies become greater when everyone has equal access, is fully engaged, and can realize their potential.” — Rick Hansen
Man In Motion World Tour
Photo: Courtesy of the Rick Hansen Foundation
In March 1985, Canadian Paralympian and Olympian Rick Hansen set out on a journey that would make history. Hansen’s dream for the Man In Motion Tour was to make the world accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities, and to fund research for a cure for paralysis. After an epic 26-month, 40,000 kilometre journey around the world in his wheelchair, Rick and his team completed the Tour and arrived home in Vancouver on May 22, 1987.
Highlights From the Rick Hansen Man In Motion World Tour Collection
The Rick Hansen Man In Motion World Tour Collection contains thousands of artifacts and photographs documenting Hansen’s early athletic career as a Paralympic and Olympic athlete, through to the worldwide Man In Motion World Tour. Click through this album to view highlights from the Collection, including adaptive clothing and equipment custom made for Rick Hansen, objects and materials used on the Tour and gifts received by Hansen from icons like Bobby Orr and other supporters.
The Collection in Photos
Man In Motion World Tour Wheelchair
This is the first chair Rick Hansen used on the Tour, and it shows the wear and tear of daily life on the road. It is one of five chairs acquired as part of the collection: three from the Tour itself, and two prototype chairs developed to determine the right frame and fit for Rick Hansen.
Each of Hansen’s Tour wheelchairs was custom-made. Depending on the terrain and weather conditions, members of the Tour crew switched out the wheels and push rims. These adaptations maximized the amount of time Hansen could spend wheeling each day.
Hansen wore this custom-made jacket in cool or wet weather during the Tour. The jacket is adapted for use in a wheelchair, cut higher at the front for ease of movement. Created by Jones Tent and Awning, it is a pioneering example of adaptive clothing for people with disabilities.
In warmer weather, Hansen wore a one-piece wheeling suit. He has said that clothing was one of his greatest allies on the Tour. With the right fit, his clothing allowed him to maximize efficiency and comfort during the 40,000-km Tour.
Amanda (Reid) Hansen wore this jacket during the Tour while working as Rick Hansen’s physiotherapist. He remained injury-free for the duration of the tour, thanks to Reid’s daily care. When Rick and Amanda got engaged during the Tour, they made national headlines.
This suitcase was used as a medical bag by Amanda (Reid) Hansen and other crew members during the Tour. It was packed with anti-inflammatories, bandages and gauze pads, and was refilled over the course of the Tour.
Schoolchildren often created homemade tins to collect loose change in support of the Man In Motion World Tour. This tin was made by children from Nabiac, Australia. A young fan wrapped the outside with a newspaper article about Hansen’s trip to Australia a few years earlier, for the Wang Australian Marathon in Sydney.
Volunteer organizations and service clubs were essential to the Man In Motion World Tour. Across Canada and around the world, clubs came together to help coordinate Hansen’s travel on nearby roads and to organize local fundraisers. Canada’s Kinsmen Clubs were a major supporter. This is one of two jackets they presented to Hansen, bearing pins representing local towns and clubs across the country. The jacket is a testament to the devoted network of volunteers who supported Hansen.
Bobby Orr met with Rick Hansen and Amanda (Reid) Hansen when they travelled through Boston, Massachusetts, in 1985. For Hansen, it was a thrill to meet his childhood hockey hero. Hansen wore the jersey when he wheeled through Orr’s hometown of Parry Sound, Ontario, later in the Tour. Signs of Hansen’s use can be seen on the inner sleeves, which are dirty from contact with his chair’s wheels.
Throughout the Tour, Hansen carried this copy of a statue of Terry Fox in Thunder Bay. It was given to him by Fox’s parents, Betty and Rolly, on the first day of the Tour. Hansen and Terry Fox had been close friends. Hansen had recruited Fox for the Vancouver Cable Cars wheelchair basketball team in the late 1970s. Hansen kept this statuette in his office until he presented it to the Museum.
This sweater was given to Hansen during the Tour. It came with a note that read, “Please wear this with love and appreciation for what you have accomplished and for the thousands who will benefit! God Bless you Rick!” Fans prepared for Hansen’s arrival, in towns and cities everywhere, by making thoughtful gifts like this sweater. The gifts demonstrated Hansen’s impact on the public, who embraced his message of accessibility for all.
This beaded belt is one of the many gifts and tributes Canadians made for Rick Hansen in advance of his arrival in a community. It was given to Hansen by Tom Barnes of Dunnville, Ontario, who wrote simply “Good luck Rick” on the reverse.
This painting of Rick Hansen was given to the Loiselle family after the Tour passed through Halifax in 1986. In vivid blues, it depicts Hansen in front of a ship in Halifax Harbour and is signed “Currie” by the artist. When Hansen returned to Halifax in 2011 for the 25th anniversary of the Tour, the Loiselles gave him this gift and shared the story.
Tour organizers and volunteers worked hard to organize fundraising events in each town Hansen visited. Sometimes, however, fans took matters into their own hands. These custom beer koozies were made to raise money for the Tour. Their creator taped a note inside for Hansen: “Rick, these were made to help support you. They sold VERY well. It’s called a ‘cool it’ (as if you didn’t know). Put it around pop cans or beer. You did an awesome job Rick. Lots of Love.” Objects like this reflect the spontaneous public response to the Tour, as well as the connection Canadians had to Hansen — feeling close enough to him to crack jokes about having a beer.
This commemorative plate was presented to Rick Hansen during his 1986 trip through China. Hansen received a great deal of positive attention in China, helping to raise even greater awareness of the Tour around the world. Amanda (Reid) Hansen remembers that people were fascinated by Rick, because he was a Canadian, and because he was in a wheelchair. Citizens lined the streets for a glimpse of the Tour, and presented Hansen with flowers and other tributes. In China, Hansen realized one of his dreams, which was to wheel along the Great Wall.
David Foster and John Parr co-wrote the hit song “St. Elmo’s Fire” to commemorate the Tour. In August 1985, the song went gold in Canada. Atlantic Records presented Rick Hansen with this commemorative record to mark the achievement. For Hansen, the success of the song was, at times, surreal. In a February 2017 interview he said, “I’ll never forget wheeling into a restaurant in New Zealand, and it was during Christmas time, and the DJ on the radio behind us was saying, ‘And now our latest number one hit is “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion).”’ . . . You can’t plan for those things. It’s amazing.”
Inspired by the Tour, the City of North Vancouver decided to double its number of wheelchair ramps in 1987. Each new concrete ramp was marked with a wheelchair symbol, Hansen’s name and the year 1987. The stamp is a tangible example of the impact Rick Hansen had on people’s thinking about people with disabilities. His message of accessibility for all was simple but powerful.
Prior to the Man In Motion World Tour, Rick Hansen was a celebrated Paralympian and Olympian. He competed in the 1980 and 1984 Paralympic Games and in the 1984 Olympic Games, where wheelchair racing was a demonstration sport. This I.D. tag is a souvenir of his athletic career. It includes a photograph of a young Rick Hansen as well as a locker key.
“I am driven by a deep passion and need to make a difference and leave this world a little better than when I arrived. That’s what keeps me going.” — Rick Hansen
An Afternoon With Rick Hansen, May 22, 2020
On May 22, 2020, the Rick Hansen Man In Motion World Tour Collection was officially donated to the Canadian Museum of History during the exclusive online event, An Afternoon With Rick Hansen. In conversation with Dr. Jenny Ellison, Curator of Sports and Leisure at the Museum, Hansen shared behind-the-scenes stories from the Tour, and reflected upon key objects that shaped his journey.
Guests included Hansen’s wife, Amanda (Reid) Hansen, along with video messages from Mark O’Neill, President and CEO, Canadian Museum of History; Darrell Fox, The Terry Fox Research Institute; Nancy Thompson, Home Team and Road Crew, Man in Motion World Tour; John Parr, singer/songwriter of the hit song St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion); The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion.
Do you have photos and stories about the Man In Motion World Tour? Rick Hansen would love to hear from you.
Nancy Thompson, Home Team and Road Crew, Man in Motion World Tour
John Parr, singer/songwriter of the hit song St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)
The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion
Rick Hansen Foundation
For more than three decades, the Rick Hansen Foundation has been dedicated to creating a world that is accessible and inclusive for all, by removing barriers for people with disabilities. Hansen and the Foundation are dedicated to raising awareness, changing attitudes, helping create accessible spaces, and liberating the potential of people with disabilities.
Through his ongoing work as Founder of the Rick Hansen Foundation, Rick Hansen’s dream of creating a world without barriers continues.
In 2017, Rick Hansen donated a glove from the Man in Motion World Tour to the Canadian Museum of History. The glove is now featured in the Canadian History Hall, where it has become a popular draw with visitors from around the world.
Photo at top of page:
Rick Hansen crossing the 12,000 mile mark just outside of Kingston, Australia in 1986.
Courtesy of the Rick Hansen Foundation