Canadian Football History
Canadian football is a form of gridiron football which is played almost exclusively in Canada. Although it has undergone a number of developments, the origins of this game actually go back many years.
The first recorded example of gridiron football being played in Canada was back in 1861, at the University of Toronto. To put this time line in perspective, it was not long after the age-old card game of poker was given its first official mention in print in a handbook of games that Canadian Football first hit the grid iron. For a modern sport to have such a long history is relatively rare, yet many aspects of the original game are still present today.
Although the rules of play were still vague at this point in time, an in initial football was formed. Later, in 1864, a more clearly defined set of rules were developed by F. Barlow Cumberland and Frederick A. Bethune at Toronto’s Trinity College. These rules were loosely based on those used to play rugby football in the United Kingdom.
The influence of British rugby was further incorporated into the rules of Canadian football when British Army officers played a game against local civilians in 1865 Montreal. Out of this, the Montreal Football Club was formed three years later, which is noted as being the first non-university football club to have been based in Canada.
However, within Canada’s universities, the game gained increasing popularity. It was known as rugby-football, and one of the institutions where it became most popular was Montreal’s McGill University. In 1874, McGill challenged Harvard University to a match, and the beginnings of a league began to take shape.
Before the current Canadian Football League was officially established, however, the Canadian Rugby Football Union (CRFU), and the Canadian Rugby Union both presided over the rules of the game. These institutions all went some way to shaping the game into what it is today.