Sport in Canada: Wikis


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The sporting culture of Canada consists of a variety of games. Although there are many contests that Canadians value, the most common are ice hockey, Canadian football, basketball, soccer, and baseball.

Ice hockey, referred to as simply hockey in the country, is Canada's most prevalent winter sport,[1] its most popular spectator sport, and its most successful sport in international competition. Lacrosse, a sport with Native American origins, is Canada's oldest and official sport.[1] Canadian football is Canada's second most popular spectator sport,[2] and the Canadian Football League's annual championship, the Grey Cup, is the country's largest annual sports event.[3] Association football, known in Canada as soccer in both English and French, has the most registered players of any sport in Canada, but has yet to enjoy the sustained popularity as a major professional sport.[citation needed] However, throughout the last two decades, soccer has shown an improvement in terms of popularity through its associations and club structures at the provincial and national levels

Other popular team sports include curling, street hockey, cricket, rugby and softball. Cricket is the fastest growing sport in Canada currently.[4][5] Popular individual sports include auto racing, boxing, cycling, golf, hiking, horse racing, ice skating, rodeo, skateboarding, skiing, snowboarding, swimming, tennis, triathlon, track and field, water sports, and wrestling. As a country with a generally cool climate, Canada has enjoyed greater success at the Winter Olympics than at the Summer Olympics, although significant regional variations in climate allow for a wide variety of both team and individual sports. Major multi-sport events in Canada include the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Great achievements in Canadian sport are recognized by Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, while the Lou Marsh Trophy is awarded annually to Canada's top athlete by a panel of journalists.



Federal and provincial governments are both actively involved in sports each has areas of jurisdiction which overlap sports. Sport Canada generally directs (or at least co-ordinates) federal activity in sports. While the federal government generally tries to take a leadership role in areas of international competition (where its jurisdiction is clearest) some provinces, especially Quebec, are actively involved in sports at all levels, even with elite international athletes. Provinces will often focus on student athletics, as it falls more clearly in an area of provincial jurisdiction (that being education).


University and collegiate sport

Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) is the national governing body for university sports, while the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association governs college sports. A factor which affects athletic participation levels in CIS member institutions is the CIS restriction that scholarships cover tuition only, drawing many of Canada's best student athletes to the United States where organizations such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) allow "full ride" scholarships which include tuition, books, housing, and travel. Another is the popular Canadian Hockey League (for male hockey players aged 15 to 20), which effectively serves as the primary development league for the professional National Hockey League, although CHL teams offer financial support for players who choose to play CIS hockey after leaving the CHL.

Official sports

Since its founding, Canada's official sport was lacrosse, a sport invented by Aboriginal peoples. In 1994, First Nations groups objected to a government bill that proposed establishing ice hockey as Canada's national sport, arguing that it neglected recognition of the game of lacrosse, a uniquely Native contribution. In response, the House of Commons amended a bill "to recognize hockey as Canada's Winter Sport and lacrosse as Canada's Summer Sport," although lacrosse is played all year, in all seasons, indoor and outdoors. On May 12, 1994, in Bill C-212, ice hockey joined lacrosse as official sports of Canada.

Ice hockey

The modern form of ice hockey began in Canada in the late 1800s, and is widely considered Canada's national pastime, with high levels of participation by children, men and women at various levels of competition. The most popular leagues are the junior Canadian Hockey League, and the professional National Hockey League, which has six teams in Canada: the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Vancouver Canucks. The Canadian NHL presence peaked with eight teams in the mid-1990s, before the Quebec Nordiques relocated to Denver, Colorado in 1995 and the Winnipeg Jets relocated to Phoenix, Arizona in 1996. Hockey Night in Canada is a longtime national Saturday night television broadcast featuring Canadian NHL teams. Hockey Canada is the sport's official governing body in Canada and is a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation.


The First Nations began playing the sport more than 500 years ago. Today lacrosse not only remains an integral part of native culture, but is played by tens of thousands of people across Canada and the north eastern United States. From its origin as 'The Creator's Game' to the overwhelming popularity of the Toronto Rock and the modern game, lacrosse has survived the test of time after treading down a long, controversial path that led it to become recognized as Canada's official national sport. It's commonly assumed that Lacrosse was named Canada's National sport by Parliament in 1859. To date, documented evidence has not been uncovered for this claim. In a 1994 controversial and advantageous effort to raise the profile of Canadian hockey in the international arena resulted in lacrosse, through an act of parliament, becoming the official summer sport of Canada.

The Canadian Lacrosse Association, founded in 1925, is the governing body of lacrosse in Canada. It conducts national junior and senior championship tournaments for men and women in both field and box lacrosse. It also participated in the inaugural World Indoor Lacrosse Championship in 2003. The National Lacrosse League is a professional box lacrosse league, with franchises in Canada and the United States. The 2006 World Lacrosse Championship was held in London, Ontario. Canada beat the United States 15-10 in the final to break a 28-year U.S. winning streak. One of the best lacrosse players of all time, Gary Gait was born in Victoria, British Columbia and has won every possible major lacrosse championship. Great achievements in Canadian Lacrosse are recognized by the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Professional Sport

There are Canada-based teams in several top-level professional sports leagues.



The world's first documented baseball game took place in Beachville, Ontario on June 4, 1838. Although more strongly associated with the United States, baseball has existed in Canada from the very beginning. The world's oldest baseball park still in operation is Labatt Park in London, Ontario. It is home to the London Majors of the semi-pro Intercounty Baseball League.

A Toronto Blue Jays baseball game at Rogers Centre in Toronto.

The Toronto Blue Jays are Canada's only Major League Baseball team, founded in 1977. The Montreal Expos club played in Montreal from 1969 until 2004 when they moved to Washington, D.C. and became the Washington Nationals. The Blue Jays were the first non-American team to host a World Series Game (in 1992) and the only non-American team to win the World Series (back to back in 1992 and 1993). The Blue Jays had the highest attendance in Major League Baseball during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Professional baseball has a long history in Canada, beginning with teams such as the London Tecumsehs, Montreal Royals, and Toronto Maple Leafs in the late 1800s and early 1900s. All three were included on the National Baseball Association's top 100 minor league teams.

A number of Canadians have played in the major leagues, and several have won the highest honors in baseball. Ferguson Jenkins won the National League Cy Young Award in 1971 as the best pitcher in the league, and in 1991 became the first Canadian inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Larry Walker was National League MVP for the 1997 season and was the league's Batting Champion 3 times. Éric Gagné won the National League Cy Young Award in 2003. Jason Bay was the first Canadian to win rookie of the year honors in 2004, and Justin Morneau was the American League MVP for the 2006 season.

Canada participated in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, in which it upset Team USA in first-round play,[6] which some people in Canada call the "Miracle on Dirt" (a play on the phrase "Miracle on Ice" for the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team). There are a number of minor league, semi-professional and collegiate baseball teams in Canada (see List of baseball teams in Canada). Great achievements in Canadian baseball are recognized by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.


Both the Canadian Football League (CFL), the sport's only professional league, and Football Canada, the governing body for amateur play, trace their roots to 1884 and the founding of the Canadian Rugby Football Union. Currently active teams such as the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats have similar longevity. The CFL's championship game, the Grey Cup, is the country's single largest sporting event and is watched by nearly one third of Canadian television households.[3] The eight Canadian football teams are the B.C. Lions, Calgary Stampeders, Edmonton Eskimos, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Toronto Argonauts, Hamilton Tiger Cats, and Montreal Alouettes.


A packed ACC in a Toronto Raptors game against the Milwaukee Bucks

The National Basketball Association (NBA) recognizes its first ever game as being a contest between the New York Knickerbockers and Toronto Huskies at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens on November 1, 1946.[7] The NBA expanded into Canada in 1995 with the addition of the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies. The Grizzlies moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 2001, but the Raptors continue to draw healthy crowds at the Air Canada Centre. The 2005 and 2006 NBA MVP, Steve Nash, is from British Columbia and has played in international competitions for Canada's national team.

Amateur Sport

Canadian athletes are world-ranked in many amateur sports. These include the 'winter' sports of alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, speed skating. In ice hockey, Canada supports national teams in under-20 and under-18 categories. In 'summer' sports, Canadians participate in rugby, soccer, track and field among most sports presented in the Summer Olympics. There are sports federations for most sports in Canada. Funding for amateur athletics is provided by governments, private companies and individual citizens through donation.

Team sports



Basketball has very strong roots in Canada. The inventor, James Naismith, was Canadian; born in Almonte, Ontario, he was working as a physical education instructor in Massachusetts when he created the game in 1891. As many as 10 of the players in that first game were Canadians students from Quebec. 

Basketball is a popular sport in parts of Canada, especially in Nova Scotia and more recently southern Ontario.

The popularity of basketball in Nova Scotia is at the high school and college level. Nova Scotia is home to three perennially strong college basketball programs. Saint Mary's University, Acadia University, and St. Francis Xavier University have made 22, 21, and 13 appearances in the Canadian University championship, respectively. Carleton University has dominated the Canadian University championship in recent years, winning six titles in seven years from 2003 to 2009.


Rugby football has its origins in Canada in the early 1860s,[8] and over time, a unique sport known as Canadian football developed. The first documented football match was a game played at University College, University of Toronto on November 9, 1861. A football club was formed at the university soon afterwards, although its rules of play at this stage are unclear.

In 1864, at Trinity College, Toronto, F. Barlow Cumberland and Frederick A. Bethune devised rules based on rugby football. However, modern Canadian football is widely regarded as having originated with a game of rugby played in Montreal, in 1865, when British Army officers played local civilians. The game gradually gained a following, and the Montreal Football Club was formed in 1868, the first recorded non-university football club in Canada.

This rugby-football soon became popular at Montreal's McGill University. McGill challenged Harvard University to a game, in 1874. It is through this varsity play, that the game now known as American football entered the United States.[4] The game grew in parallel from this point onward in the USA and Canada. American football is in essence, an offshoot of Canadian football, and many professional Canadian football players are "imports" from the United States[citation needed].

Canadian football is also played at the high school, junior, collegiate, and semi-professional levels: the Canadian Junior Football League and Quebec Junior Football League are for players aged 18–22, many post-secondary institutions compete in Canadian Interuniversity Sport for the Vanier Cup, and senior leagues such as the Alberta Football League have grown in popularity in recent years. Great achievements in Canadian football are recognized by the Canadian Football Hall of Fame which is located in Hamilton, Ontario.


Cricket was in societies circles the most popular sport in Canada until the early 20th century. In fact, it was so popular that it was declared[citation needed] the national sport by John A. Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada. Today, cricket is a popular minority sport in Canada, although it is growing. Cricket is the fastest growing sport in Canada[4][5][9], and there are well over 40,000 cricketers in the country.[10][11]

While Canada is not sanctioned to play Test matches, the team does take part in One Day International (ODI) matches (there are a few grounds in Canada that are sanctioned to host ODI's by the International Cricket Council or ICC) and also in first-class games (in the ICC Intercontinental Cup) against other non-Test-playing opposition, with the rivalry against the United States being as strong in cricket as it is in other team sports. The match between these two nations is in fact the oldest international fixture in cricket, having first been played in 1844. This international fixture even predates the Olympics by over 50 years.

The most famous Canadian cricketer is John Davison, who was born in Canada and participated in the Cricket World Cup in both 2003 and 2007. At the 2003 World Cup, Davison hit the fastest century in tournament history against the West Indies in what was ultimately a losing cause. In that World Cup he also smashed a half-century at a strike rate of almost 200 against New Zealand. One year later, in the ICC Intercontinental Cup against the USA, he proved the difference between the two sides, taking 17 wickets for 137 runs as well as scoring 84 runs of his own. In the 2007 Cricket World Cup in the West Indies, Davison scored the second-fastest half-century against New Zealand. Canada has participated in the 1979, 2003 and 2007 Cricket World Cups.

Canada has traditionally had a strong Women's team. Also The Canadian Under 19 team have competed in the Under 19 World Cup on two occasions. In 2002, they were eliminated in the first round, meaning they competed in the plate competition, in which they did not win a game. They repeated this performance in the 2004 competition.

Canada Senior Men's team qualified in April 2009 at the ICC World Cup qualifier held in South Africa to compete in 2011 World Cup, their third World Cup appearance in a row.[12]


Curling is most popular in the prairie provinces with the most competitive teams in recent years coming from the province of Alberta. However, curling has a degree of popularity across the country. For example, a team from Quebec, which is not a traditional hotbed of curling, won the Tim Hortons Brier (national men's championship) in 2006. The Scotties Tournament of Hearts is the national women's championship. The Canadian Curling Association is the sport's national governing body; great achievements are recognized by the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame.

Rugby Union

Canada has around 13,000 seniors and twice as many junior players spread across the country. Many of these come from Canada's rugby stronghold of British Columbia[citation needed] while also being strong in Newfoundland and Ontario. The leading domestic competition is the Rugby Canada Super League organised by Rugby Canada, the sports governing body. The Canadian national side have competed in every Rugby World Cup to date yet have only won one match each tournament with the exception of the 1991 tournament where they reached the quarter finals and the 2007 tournament when their best result was a draw against Japan in the group stage. Highlights include famous victories over Scotland and Wales, and regulary defeat their North American neighbours.Known for their trademark "hard nosed" style of play,many Canadian players play professionally in English and French leagues.


Soccer's governing body in Canada is the Canadian Soccer Association, which traces its roots to the 1880s. While Canada's women's teams, both at senior level and age-grade, are competitive internationally (finishing fourth place at the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup, and 2nd place at the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship), the national men's team struggles (appeared at one World Cup in 1986 and did not score a goal). At the professional level, the sport has never had major sustained success, with teams coming and going in leagues such as the North American Soccer League in the 1970s and 1980s. As of 2007, there are a number of teams in minor leagues such as the CSL and USL. As well, Toronto FC is growing in popularity as a team in Major League Soccer. The second-level USL First Division has two Canadian teams—the Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact. The Whitecaps have also scheduled two friendlies with the L.A. Galaxy, drawing 0–0 in November 2007 at B.C. Place and winning 2–1 in May 2008 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. In 2011, MLS will add its second Canadian team, a Vancouver side whose ownership group is headed by the current owner of the Whitecaps; it is expected that the MLS team will continue to use the Whitecaps name.

Canada hosted the FIFA U-16 World Championship 1987 and 2002 FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship (the predecessor to today's FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup), and the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, which was played in the cities of Toronto, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Victoria and Vancouver. The 2007 U-20 World Cup was the largest FIFA event ever hosted by Canada. Great achievements in Canadian Soccer are recognized by the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame

Individual sports


The Canadian Grand Prix Formula One auto race had been conducted every year since 1967, and since 1978 had been held at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, apart from 2009 when the race was not on the FIA calendar for one year.[13] The track was named for Canada's first Grand Prix driver, the late Gilles Villeneuve, whose son, Jacques, won the Formula One World championship in 1997.

During its existence, Champ Car, another major open-wheel racing series, held races in the Canadian cities of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Mont-Tremblant. Several Canadians have starred in Champ Car racing, most notably Jacques Villeneuve (who won the 1995 series championship before moving to Formula One) and Paul Tracy, who captured the series title in 2003. In 2008, Champ Car merged with its long-time rival, the Indy Racing League (IRL) under the banner of the latter. The Edmonton race was transferred over to the new series immediately, and the Toronto event was added for the 2009 season.

CASCAR (the Canadian Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) was the country's governing body for amateur and professional stock car racing, and the CASCAR Super Series was the highest-level stock car racing series in the country. In 2006, NASCAR purchased CASCAR and rebranded the Super Series as the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series; nevertheless, the series remains Canada's top-level stock car racing circuit.

Because Canada is NASCAR's largest market outside the United States, NASCAR brought a Busch Series (now Nationwide Series) race to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2007;[14] the race has continued on the schedule ever since.

Canadians have combined to win 50 races in CART/Champ Car (Including 1 Indianapolis 500), 17 races in Formula 1, 3 races in the IRL IndyCar series, and 7 races in NASCAR's top 3 divisions (1 in Sprint Cup).

In 2007 the Castrol Canadian Touring Car Championship was formed.


The sport of bowling takes several forms in Canada, including ten-pin and lawn bowling, but most notably Canada has its own version: Five-pin bowling, which was invented in Toronto. Five-pin is played in all parts of Canada, but not played in any other country. A unique ten-pin bowling game using a small bowling ball is played in Nova Scotia.


Golf is a widely-enjoyed recreational sport in Canada, and the country boasts several highly-rated courses. The Royal Canadian Golf Association is the governing organization, and has over 1,600 associated member clubs and over 300,000 individual members.[15] The RCGA also conducts the only PGA Tour and LPGA tour events in Canada, and it also manages the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. The Canadian Professional Golf Tour, once known as the "Peter Jackson Tour" is an organization that runs a series of tournaments for professional players, some of which are conducted outside Canada.

Ontario's Mike Weir won the 2003 Masters, becoming the first Canadian man to win one of golf's majors. The first Canadian to win any recognized major championship was Sandra Post, winner of the LPGA Championship in 1968. From 1979 through 2000, the du Maurier Classic (now known as the Canadian Women's Open) was one of the LPGA's four majors.


Biking has increased its participation in the past few years. Several new genres of the sport have become popular in Canada, including slopestyle competition, four cross, downhill racing, dirt jumping, and free-ride. With the sport increasing bikes have also increased in quality and durability.

Mixed Martial Arts

MMA is a young and growing sport in Canada, which has produced several notable fighters in the UFC and other promotions. Canada is the home of the current UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre.

Multi-sport events

Runners at the 2001 Canada Games in London, Ontario.
Adam van Koeverden, Olympic gold medallist in flatwater kayak racing.
Clara Hughes, multiple medallist at both the Summer and Winter Olympics.

Major multi-sport events with Canadian participation, or that have taken place in Canada, are the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, Canada Games, Word Championships in Athletics, Pan American Games, and the Universiade. Others include the North American Indigenous Games, the World Police and Fire Games, and the Gay Games.

Canada Games

The Canada Games is a high-level multi-sport event with held every two years in Canada, alternating between the Canada Winter Games and the Canada Summer Games. Athletes are strictly amateur only, and represent their province or territory. Since their inception, the Canada Games have played a prominent role in developing some of Canada's premier athletes, including Lennox Lewis, Catriona LeMay Doan, Hayley Wickenheiser, Sidney Crosby, Martin Brodeur , Steve Nash, Suzanne Gaudet and David Ling. The Games were first held in 1967 in Quebec City as part of Canada's Centennial celebrations. Similar events are held on the provincial level, such as the annual BC Games.

Commonwealth Games

Canada is one of only six nations to have attended every Commonwealth Games, and hosted the first ever British Empire Games in 1930 in Hamilton, Ontario. Canada also hosted the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Alberta, and the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, British Columbia. Canada ranks third in the all-time medal tally of Commonwealth Games. Halifax, Nova Scotia had been nominated as Canada's selection to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games before it withdrew its bid due to unacceptably high cost projections.

Olympic Games

Canada has competed at every Olympic Games, except for the first games in 1896 and the boycotted games in 1980. Canada has previously hosted the games three times, at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, and the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

At the summer games, the majority of Canada's medals come from the sports of athletics, aquatics (swimming, synchronized swimming and diving), rowing and canoeing/kayaking. In the post-boycott era (since 1988), Canada's medal total ranks 19th in the world, with the highest rank of 11th in 1992 and the lowest of 24th in 2000.

At the winter games, Canada is usually one of the top nations in terms of medals won. Canada is traditionally strong in the sports of ice hockey, speed skating (especially the short track variation), figure skating and every Canadian men's and women's curling teams have won medals since the sport was added to the Olympic program.

After Canada failed to win any gold medals at both Olympics it previously hosted—the 1976 Summer and 1988 Winter games—various organizations including Sport Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee collaborated to launch "Own the Podium – 2010", a development program to help Canada earn the most medals at the 2010 Games.

The National Sport School in Calgary, founded 1994, is the first Canadian high school designed exclusively for Olympic-calibre athletes.

Other events sanctioned by the IOC

Youth Olympics

Other International Competitions

Pan American Games

Canada has participated in each of the Pan American Games since the second edition of the games, held in Mexico City in 1955. The fifth games took place in Winnipeg in 1967, Canada's Centennial year. Winnipeg hosted again in 1999. Toronto has been selected as the host city for the 2015 games, which will be held in July, 2015 in venues located in Toronto and its surrounding municipalities.[16]

Jeux de la Francophonie

Goodwill Games


North American Indigenous Games

World Police and Fire Games

Gay Games

Arctic Winter Games


Major television broadcasters of sports in Canada include the CBC Television, Télévision de Radio-Canada, The Sports Network (TSN), Réseau des sports (RDS), Rogers Sportsnet, and The Score. A consortium led by CTVglobemedia outbid CBC for the broadcast rights to the 2010 Winter Olympics and 2012 Summer Olympics. Major national weekly sports broadcasts include Hockey Night In Canada and Friday Night Football. There are sports radio stations in most major Canadian cities as well as on satellite radio.

Sport Rankings

Sport Men's Women's
Baseball (IBAF World Rankings) 7 3
Basketball (FIBA World Rankings) 19 12
Curling (WCF World Rankings) 1 1
Soccer (FIFA World Rankings) 62 13
Ice hockey (IIHF World Ranking) 1 1
Rugby union (IRB World Rankings) 14 -
Tennis (ITF Rankings) 37 -
Volleyball (FIVB World Rankings) 20 24



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