Laurent Louis Desjardins, (”Larry”/”Lefty”), always gave it his best shot. Desjardins was quite an athlete in his day. He was a left-handed pitcher and first baseman with the St. Boniface Juveniles, St. Paul’s College, Norwood Seniors, Navy, St. Boniface Native Sons, and played semi-professionally in the ManDak league.
In football, Desjardins was a two-way tackle with St. Paul’s College, the University of Manitoba, and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and later coached at Isaac Newton, St. Paul’s College, and the Winnipeg Rods.
Desjardins played hockey for the St. Boniface Juniors and Esquires. He later became the president and general manager of the St. Boniface Junior Canadians. Desjardins was also a local scout for the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins and was among the first to scout European players at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, France.
Desjardins entered public service in 1950 and served as a member of the provincial Legislature from 1959 to 1987. His portfolios included Tourism, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs (1971-74); Health and Social Development plus responsibility for Fitness and Amateur Sport (1974-77); Health, Fitness, Recreation, and Sport (1981-87), and Urban Affairs (1985-86). In the 1970’s, he led a task force of western ministers that initiated the Western Canada Lottery Foundation and served as its first chairman.
In conjunction with the Manitoba Sports Federation, Desjardins contributed to the development of a distinct policy for amateur sport which included the establishment of a Director of Sport, grants to provincial sports organizations, an administrative centre for sport, and the creation of the Manitoba Games. This new approach to the management of sport and recreation also allowed sport to become a major beneficiary of provincial lottery programs.
b. March 15, 1923