March 16, 2023

Class of 2023: a taste of Montreal

Montreal, March 16, 2023 – The Canadian Football Hall of Fame (CFHOF) unveiled its class of 2023, and the least we can say is that it has Montreal written all over it.

Indeed, former defensive end John Bowman will be welcomed in his first year of eligibility. He will be accompanied by his former teammate on the offensive line Josh Bourke. Lloyd Fairbanks, who also played on the Alouettes (and Concordes) front five received the call as well. Former Alouettes President and CFL Commissioner Larry Smith will also be inducted in the builder’s category, along with former Alouettes assistant coach Jacques Dussault, who headed numerous university programs and was a true pioneer in La Belle Province.

John Bowman, Defensive end, Montreal Alouettes (2006-2019)
He played 230 games in 14 seasons in the CFL, all with the Alouettes. The Brooklyn, NY native is the Alouettes all-time sack leader with 134, which was good for sixth place in the CFL at the time of his retirement. He also amassed an impressive total of 481 defensive tackles, 37 tackles for losses, while forcing 32 fumbles and recovering 15, including one for a touchdown.

On top of hoisting the Grey Cup in 2009 and 2010, Bowman was elected to the East Division All Star team eight times, receiving the nod twice as a CFL All Star. He also scored a touchdown on a 41-yard interception return during the 2010 East Final.

Above his on-field performances, the year-long Montrealer touched many people in the community. As a pillar of the Together at School with the Alouettes program, he opened up about his childhood in front of numerous youths, telling them of how sports allowed him to stay hooked on school. His vibrant message resonated to the kids in the numerous schools he visited, influencing them to make the right decisions and to stay in school.

Click HERE for the video of John Bowman’s reaction.

Josh Bourke, Offensive line, Montreal Alouettes (2007-2015)
He played 141 games in nine seasons with the Alouettes, helping the team reach the Grey Cup three consecutive years between 2008 and 2010, and winning the precious silver in 2009 and 2010.

The Windsor, ON native played at the left tackle position, a spot which is normally reserved for American players. He brilliantly accomplished this feat as he protected quarterback Anthony Calvillo’s blind side, helping the Alouettes offence dominate the CFL, scoring 600 points or more twice, while leading many offensive categories throughout the seasons. On three separate occasions, he was part of an offensive line that allowed the least number of sacks in the league (2008, 2012 and 2015). During his career, the team never finished lower than third in that category.

He was voted to the East Division All Star team no less than seven times, receiving the nod as a CFL All Star twice. He received his most notable personal accolade in 2011, when he was voted the CFL’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman. He was selected the Alouettes Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman from 2010 to 2012 and the East Division’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman in 2011 and 2012.

Like his fellow inductee John Bowman, Bourke was a yearlong Montreal resident during his playing years and was an important cog of the Together at School with the Alouettes program.

Click HERE to see Josh Bourke’s reaction.

Loyd Fairbanks, Concordes and Montreal Alouettes (1983-1986)
He joined the Montreal Concordes in 1983, after playing his first eight seasons with the Calgary Stampeders. The Raymond, AB native was voted an East Division All Star in his last three seasons in La Belle Province. He was also named the Alouettes Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman during those three seasons.

During his 17-season career he was selected a Division All Star team on seven occasions, while being named the West Division Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman in 1982. The former BYU Cougar was elected a CFL All Star in 1979 and 1982.

Fairbanks also played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, prior to completing his career in a Stampeder uniform, and hanging up his cleats in 1991.

Larry Smith (Builder category), Montreal Alouettes President (1997-2001, 2004-2010)
After helping the Alouettes hoist the Grey Cup as a player in 1974 and 1977, the former Alouettes fullback accomplished great things off the field for the CFL and the Alouettes.

The Montrealer was appointed the eighth CFL commissioner in 1992, and supervised the league’s American expansion, which brought in new money to the league. Once the league returned to a 100% Canadian format, the Bishop’s University graduate took on the role of Alouettes’ President in 1997.

Under his tutelage, the team returned to Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, where it eventually played 104 games in front of a capacity crowd. He oversaw the stadium’s two major renovation phases. Montreal was a first-class host to the 2001 and 2008 Grey Cups during his presidency. Smith also ensured the Alouettes had a strong presence in the community, all while strongly supporting amateur football in the province, which thrived during those years. The Alouettes won the Grey Cup in 2009 and 2010.

Jacques Dussault (Builder category), Assistant Coach with the Montreal Alouettes and Concordes (1982-1986, 1997-1999)
Dussault was a pioneer amongst football coaches in Quebec, as he was one of the first francophone coaches to expatriate himself South of the border, and come back to share his knowledge and passion for football. After joining the UQTR Patriotes coaching staff, he joined the University of Albany Great Danes staff. That experience led to his first stint with the Alouettes/Concordes from 1982 to 1986.

In 1989, he was appointed the Mount Allison University Mounties Head Coach, where he set up a talent pipeline for Quebec players, as francophones still had no university of their own to continue playing football. After two seasons in the Maritimes, Dussault became the first Quebecer Head Coach in the professional ranks with the Montreal Machine of the World League of American Football.

From 2002 to 2005, he was the Head Coach of the Université de Montréal Carabins, which had become the second francophone university with a football program, after the Université Laval Rouge et Or. There is possibly no level of football in Quebec in which Jacques didn’t pass on any of his knowledge.

The latter was also a pioneer in the media, as he was welcomed into the living rooms and cars of people throughout the province, when he was the colour commentator for television and radio football broadcasts over the decades. To this day, he still keeps his ear to the ground about football, as he is sometimes the replacement colour commentator for certain Alouettes games. Regardless of his role, “Le Coach” will have given everything to football without asking anything in return.