History of Canadian Sports

History of Canadian Sports

Sports have an interesting in Canada, from early baggataway (early Indigenous games) to more current supports such as kitesurfing and snowboarding. Also, Canada has two national sports: hockey (Winter) and Lacrosse (Summer). Know More about History of Canadian Sports.

It started in the late 19th Century, and sports became organized, including the development of different national organizations. Several Canadian men took part in sports that included hockey, baseball, Soccer, lacrosse, rugby, and others. In the 1960s, the participation of Women was restricted when sports determined manly started to open to women and girls. The official national sport of Canada is Hockey and Lacrosse.

History of Canadian Sports

Indigenous Sport and Game

There is no doubt that Canadian sport is indebted to indigenous culture for the Lacrosse stick, toboggan, canoe, and snowshoe. The voyageurs and the Coureurs des Bois through close contact with indigenous individuals have helped to come into European settlements and carry out things that resulted from the use of pieces of tools. Several indigenous sports had utilitarian purposes related to survival, such as spear throwing, wrestling, foot and canoe racing, and archery. At the same time, activities such as baggattaway and dancing had religious significance. 

There are first nations that built a range of games such as ring and pole, awl games, cat’s cradle and snow snake, birchbark cards and dice, partly for the love of play and a few times of the betting purpose. The games of the Inuit are related to preparing youth for cooperative existence in a harsh atmosphere where one also has to understand one’s limit of tolerance. Tug-of-war, drum dances, dogsled races, blanket toss, ball games, spear throwing, and self-testing games like leg-wrestling, arm-pull, and finger-pull that has helped to complete the purpose.

19th Century Sport and Society

The majority of active sportsmen in the early 19th Century were gentlemen players from the upper strata or the merchant of society and garrison officers. Also, these officers re-establish the sporting customs of their home country in the new atmosphere, but they were also eager to sponsor and adopt new activities.

Their love of horse racing, with the leisured existence, provided the impetus to such sports as trotting, hunting, and steeplechasing. Their all-encompassing enthusiasm and interest associated with managerial expertise resulted in a broad sports spectrum being established within communities.

In theory, snowshoeing, Soccer (football), cricket, skating, and similar activities were available in those days for the working class. Also, the group lacked time for recreational or sporting activities. For several, Sunday was the only rest day, but they were deterred from sporting on that day by the Lord’s Day Act and religious groups that were in the Province of Canada, which was passed in 1845.

Sports in the Late 19th Century

The sport was intensely interesting and creative in the late 19th Century. Canadians were at the forefront of the popularization and development of baseball, lacrosse, hockey, football, basketball, and others. Canadian James Naismith 1891 discovered the basketball game while teaching in Massachusetts. Also, the game spread and played in Canada.

Lacrosse was so famous in the 1880s that there was a myth that it had been announced by the Parliament act, to be the national game. By the 1880s, the game was also introduced to England and was spreading its wings to Western Canada.

Also, baseball may challenge lacrosse for interest and public support as a summer sport. In 1876, the Canadian baseball association was created, and the first baseball leagues were started after that. Much of the early success of baseball took place in Southwestern Ontario, where the United States’ proximity was enhanced by the railway links.


Football had a huge transformation during this time. Canadians in 1874 launched their American neighbors to the oval ball and regulations of rugby. In that year, also remarked on the starting of a series of annual matches between Harvard and McGill universities. Due to this, the Americans shifted from a football association named Soccer today in NA or North America. They also adopted the scrum and oval ball of rugby. By the 20th Century, the game had transformed into what North Americans call football.

 The game links to the colleges and universities of both nations that contributed to the longstanding success. The sport in Canada was dependent on Quebec and Ontario, and in 1884, the first football national championship was held.

Lacrosse and Rugby

Both lacrosse and rugby contributed to the transformation of hockey from an ill-defined form of a ball and British stick games. Several of these practices that, include regulations related to offsides, the face-off, and the use of goals to get points, are borrowed from other sports. By the end of the Century, hockey was replacing lacrosse as the most famous sport in Canada.

International Competition

Development of the 20th Century was the competitive growth of possibilities for Canadians against athletes from across the globe. Due to the international events success became most vital, it was seen as part of the national interest to support players with government help. Canada has entered an official team from 1908 at the Olympic games except for the boycott of the Moscow games in 1980.

Ontario, Hamilton was the host of the first British Empire games. In 1930, it was called the Commonwealth games and the Pan American games started in 1951. All these three multi-sport festivals offer a highly visible international platform on which amateur athletes might concentrate on their aspirations and training programs for success.

Paralympic sport

Canadians have also excelled in Paralympic sports. Also, the international paralympic movement gained strength in the 1960s in an attempt to promote Canadian athletes, and inclusivity in competitive sports was an active competitor at an early stage. During the first Paralympic games in 1960 in Rome, there were 400 athletes with spinal cord injuries competed from 23 nations. Canadians also participated in the game. The international Paralympic committee was established in 1989, and Robert Steadward, who was Canadian, and a specialist in the field of disabled sports, was elected as president. 

Wrapping up

In this blog, we discussed the history of Canadian sports and how it got evolved with time.

Read More: National Sports of Canada

Bhagyashree Choudhary