Although basketball was invented by James Naismith in 1891, it took some time for the game to take hold in Alberta. As primarily an indoor game, its early development was hindered by the lack of suitable gymnasiums. Early photos often show the game being play outdoors in summertime on a rough and unmarked surface with crude baskets attached to a pole at both ends of the court.
By the early 1900s, the game began to appear first in schools and especially in those with gymnasiums. Similarly, as YMCAs were built in cities and towns, the game became an established feature of their early programs. With more and more teams, leagues were established so that by the time World War I began, basketball in some form was played in most major centers in Alberta. It was also a game played from the start by girls and women, although the rules were sometimes modified to make the game less vigorous for females.
Throughout the years, basketball has remained true to Naismith's original version, although certainly there have been some rule changes during this time. Girls and women for the most part now play the same game as do boys and men. What has changed is the extent to which basketball can now be found in a multitude of clubs, community leagues, schools, colleges, and universities throughout the province. It is played by children, youth, and adults. Both the able-bodied and those with physical disabilities enjoy the game and at the highest levels of competition. Yet, for all its modern-day sophistication and organization, it can still be played as a pick-up game sometimes just one-on-one.
The following timeline provides a brief history of the development of the game in Alberta. It should be noted that there is as yet no coherent history of the game in Canada, and neither is there much written about the game in Alberta. The famous Edmonton Commercial Graduates, who dominated women's basketball in North America, and indeed the world, between 1915 and 1940, have received a good deal of attention. However, the full story of the game in this province has yet to be written.