- Football and Rugby
Football & Rugby Introduction
Canadian football and rugby union football are two forms of handling football games (unlike association football or soccer that excludes the use the hands). In Alberta, an early form of rugby union was played between officers of the North West Mounted Police stationed in Calgary and local teams comprised of civilians. By the early 1890s regular competition occurred between teams from Calgary and Edmonton. Canadian football emerged as a distinct running and handling football game in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The roots of the sport are based within rugby union, although American football has had a consistent influence on the development of Canadian football through the twentieth century. Initially Canadian football was largely confined to the central provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and later moved into the western Canadian and Atlantic provinces. Today, Canadian football is played throughout the country in youth community leagues, high schools, and colleges and universities. At the professional level, it is found exclusively in the cities of Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver.
Several events serve as markers for the examination of the history of Canadian football including; the introduction of British rugby football in the 1870s, the formation of the Canadian Rugby Union (CRU) in the late 1890s, the donation of the Grey Cup in 1909, and the formation of the Canadian Football League (CFL) in 1958. Canadian football became a national phenomenon through increased interaction between the Quebec and Ontario teams and members of the Western Canada Rugby Football Union (WCRFU) formed in 1911 including teams from both Edmonton and Calgary. The Hamilton Tigers toured to Edmonton in September 1921, and the Edmonton Eskimos played the Toronto Argonauts in the Grey Cup in Toronto the same year. It was not until 1935 that a team from the west won the Grey Cup when the Winnipeg team defeated the Hamilton Tigers. In 1948 the Calgary Stampeders became the first team from Alberta to win the Grey Cup, followed in 1954 by the Edmonton Eskimos.
Rugby union football became Canadian football in Alberta primarily through interactions with, and migration by players, and coaches from central Canada and more influentially the northwestern United States. By the early twentieth century the hybrid from of football being played in the province was still widely referred to as rugby football rather than Canadian football. By the Second World War the sport of rugby union football had disappeared. After the war, British immigrants re-introduced rugby union to Canada. In 1949 the Wanderers club formed in Toronto. A year later the Wanderers produced two new clubs, the Barbarians and the Nomads. Within a few years new clubs emerged in cities in Ontario, Quebec, Halifax, Calgary, and Edmonton. The Rugby Union of Canada was reformed in 1965 after having ceased operations in 1939. In 1974 the Canadian Rugby Union was incorporated, and today is know as Rugby Canada. Rugby Alberta oversees the sport in Alberta today.
Materials available in the Football/Rugby section include archival repositories for the Alberta Rugby Union, the Calgary Stampeders, and materials related to select individuals including Bill Taylor's collection housed at the Glenbow Archives. The bibliography primarily lists articles and books related to the Calgary Stampeder and the Edmonton Eskimo clubs and athletes. A link to the Rugby Alberta website is provided, along with links to several sites for archived photographs.