Ontario's sports timeline (2023)

11,000 to 85,000 years ago

Wisconsinan glaciation was the most recent advance of the North American glaciers. It marked the last glaciers that receded from southern Ontario.

Ontario's sports timeline (1)

Anthropologists believe that people first migrated from Central Asia and Russia over the Bering Strait to Canada by the use of snowshoes. (Snowshoes, from the Ontario Heritage Trust Collection, Homewood Museum, Maitland, Ontario.)

1,400 to 1,200 years ago

Ontario Iroquoian people began to farm the “three sisters:” corn, beans and squash.

900 to 1,200 years ago

Aborginal peoples left pictographs and petroglyph images of canoes on rocks in the Peterborough area and parts of northern Ontario.


Étienne Brûlé, a French explorer, led the way into Ontario for Samuel de Champlain. He travelled along the Ottawa, Mattawa and French rivers to reach Georgian Bay and Huronia.


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Jesuit Missionary Jean de Brébeuf (1593-1649) witnessed the Iroquois playing lacrosse. He was the first to record the game and described the sometimes brutal sport as a spiritual game. (Lacrosse stick and ball, Anishnaabe (Ojibwa). Lac Seul Reserve,Ontario. Wood and animal hide. Photo courtesy of the Canadian Museum of History collection. III-G-359 a,b, D2002-013530)


The Hudson’s Bay Company began trading in lands that would become Ontario.


The British province of Upper Canada was established, which generally comprised southern Ontario.

September 1793

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Elizabeth Simcoe, wife of Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe, informally inaugurated horse racing on a straight track located on Toronto Island. (Opening day at Woodbine Racetrack, 1926. Photo courtesy of the City of Toronto Archives.)


The War of 1812, fought between the United States and Britain, included several significant battles on Ontario soil.


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The first curling club in Ontario – the Royal Kingston Curling Club – is formed. (Curling in Toronto’s High Park, 1913. Credit: John Boyd. Photo courtesy of the Archives of Ontario.)


The rebellion in Upper and Lower Canada led to the passing of the Act of Union in 1840.

(Video) The Evolution of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) - History of Member Teams

June 1838

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Baseball is played for the first time in Beachville, Ontario (between Oxford and Zorra townships). Back then, the game featured five bases, players used a hand-hewn stick as a bat, and the ball was made of twisted yarn covered in calf skin. (Guelph vs. Hamilton, 1902. Photo courtesy of the Guelph Public Library Archives, F38-0-15-0-0-292.)

July 1, 1867

Canadian Confederation. The provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick formed the Dominion of Canada. John A. Macdonald was the first Prime Minister.

September 1867

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At a lacrosse convention held in Kingston, the rules were codified and the National Lacrosse Association was formed. (Canadian Olympic lacrosse team, 1908. Photo courtesy of Library and Archives Canada.)


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Governor General Lord Dufferin added a toboggan slide at Rideau Hall for the public to enjoy. (The Toboggan Party, Rideau Hall. Illuminated composite photograph from the personal album of Lady Dufferin, c. 1872-75. Photo courtesy of Library and Archives Canada.)

October 1873

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Toronto Argonauts Football Club played their first game against the Hamilton Tigers. (Hamilton Tigers team photograph, 1906. Photo courtesy of the Hamilton Public Library.)


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Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club was founded by John Gaele Dickson.(Josephine Fulford and friends golfing. Ontario Heritage Trust Collection, Fulford Place, Brockville, Ontario.


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The first Canadian Tennis Open Championships were held at the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club. (Man with racket, c. 1880s-1900. Ontario Heritage Trust Collection, Homewood Museum, Maitland, Ontario.)


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The first official women’s hockey game was played in Ottawa. The Government House team defeated the Rideau ladies team. (Girls’ hockey team, c. 1900s. Credit: George Irwin. Photo courtesy of the Archives of Ontario.)

December 1891

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Dr. James Naismith invents the game of basketball, nailing two peach basket to the gym balconies at the International YMCA training school. He published 13 rules for the game in the school’s newspaper The Triangle. (Dr. James Naismith holding a basketball, standing beside two peach baskets (goals), c. 1930s. Photo courtesy of the Kansas University Archives.)


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Governor General Lord Stanley donated a trophy to the emerging sport of hockey. Ottawa was the first Ontario team to win the Stanley Cup in 1903. (Playing Hockey on the St. Clair River in Sarnia. Credit: John Boyd. Photo courtesy of the Archives of Ontario.)

(Video) ELIJAH FISHER DROPPED 74 POINTS! Highest Total in Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association History!


Ontario's sports timeline (14)

George Orton of Strathroy, Ontario, won a gold medal at the Paris Olympics in 1900 in the 2,500-metre steeplechase for the United States before Canada had an Olympic team. (George Washington Orton (1873-1958) winning his Olympic gold medal, July 1900. Photo courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania Archives.)


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The Minto Skating Club is founded in Ottawa. Its patrons were Lord Minto, Governor General of Canada, and the Countess of Minto. It is now the oldest skating club in Ontario. (Lord and Lady Minto with a group in front of the Ice Palace, Ottawa, March 1904. Photo courtesy of Library and Archives Canada.)


Five-pin bowling was invented by Thomas Ryan in his Toronto pool hall after complaints of the weight of 10-pin balls.


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The first Grey Cup was played at Toronto’s Rosedale Field. (The First Grey Cup – December 4, 1909. Photo courtesy of The Globe and Mail.)

May 24, 1913

At 56-1 odds of winning, three-year-old Rockspring of Hamilton placed 9th in the King’s Plate at Woodbine Park. He had six career wins before he became a warhorse in the First World War.Watch a video from the 154th Queen’s Plate in tribute to Rockspring here.

August 4, 1914

Great Britain declared war on Germany. Canada, as part of the British Empire, was drawn into the conflict of the First World War.

September 1914

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Legendary baseball player Babe Ruth hits his first home run in professional baseball at Maple Leaf Park, near Hanlan’s Point. He was a
19-year-old rookie playing for the Providence Grays. (Toronto baseball team, c. 1910. Hanlan’s Point Stadium. Photo courtesy of the City of Toronto Archives.)


The Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) donated the OHA Memorial Cup in remembrance of all the soldiers who died in the First World War.

February 1923

Foster Hewitt did his first live radio hockey broadcast at the Arena Gardens (Mutual Street Arena) in Toronto.


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Maple Leaf Stadium was built in Toronto and witnessed a winning year of baseball. The Toronto Maple Leafs won the Junior World Series, defeating the Louisville Colonels 5-0. (Baseball game at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Stadium. Photo courtesy of the City of Toronto Archives.)

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Ontario's sports timeline (19)

Guelph Elastic Hosiery added a hard cup to the jockstrap for extra protection. It was sold for years under the name Protex. (Guelph Elastic Hosiery Ltd., c. 1920s. Photo courtesy of the Guelph Public Library Archives, F38-0-7-0-0-84.)

October 29, 1929

Black Tuesday occurred – triggering the stock market collapse that led to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

August 1930

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Hamilton was host to the first Commonwealth Games (then known as the British Empire Games). Eleven countries sent 400 athletes to participate in 59 events. (Canadian Percy Williams winning the 100-yard dash at the British Empire Games in Hamilton, 1930. Photo courtesy of the Hamilton Public Library.)

November 1931

Maple Leaf Gardens opened with its first hockey game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Chicago Blackhawks. Over 13,000 people were in attendance.

December 11, 1931

Through the Statute of Westminster, an act of Parliament of the United Kingdom, Canada became its own free dominion separate from Great Britain.

August 16, 1933

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The Christie Pits riots occurred following a softball game at Willowdale Park between the St. Peter’s baseball team and the Harbord Playground, a predominantly Jewish team. Nazi sympathizers unveiled at the park a large sheet that had a swastika on it, causing uproar among the young, Jewish men. Hundreds fought in and around the park for six hours. (Willowdale Park baseball game, May 1922. Photo courtesy of the City of Toronto Archives.)


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Herbert Carnegie was denied a chance to play in the National Hockey League due to the colour of his skin. Conn Smythe would have considered signing Carnegie to the Toronto Maple Leafs if it were not for the race barrier that existed then in professional hockey. (Herbert Carnegie, Quebec Aces, c. 1949-53. Photo courtesy of the Multicultural Society of Ontario. BLA-200511-1516.)

September 10, 1939 to September 2, 1945

Canada declared war on Nazi Germany and joined the Second World War, alongside its ally Great Britain.

November 1946

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The first game of the first season of the National Basketball Association (NBA) was played at Maple Leaf Gardens between Toronto and New York. (NBA basketball game, Maple Leaf Gardens, January 1946. Photo courtesy of the City of Toronto Archives.)

November 1952

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Hockey Night in Canada made its national television debut on the CBC with a game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins. Foster Hewitt was the first English broadcaster. (Hockey Night in Canada. Photo courtesy of the CBC Still Photo Collection. Credit: Robert Ragsdale.)

July 1, 1958

The Trans-Canada microwave system was completed. It was the largest system in the world at the time.

(Video) The history of Canada explained in 10 minutes


Northern Dancer, owned by Toronto’s E.P Taylor, became the first Canadian-bred and -owned horse to win the Kentucky Derby.

February 15, 1965

The national flag of Canada was introduced to replace the Union Jack. The new design featured a red field with a white square centre containing a large red maple leaf in the middle.

June 1969

The first Special Olympics event was held in Toronto, with 1,400 participants from across Canada.

September 28, 1972

Team Canada defeated the Soviet Union in the Summit Series, with Paul Henderson scoring the winning goal – with only 34 seconds left in the game.

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Ottawa's Sue Holloway became the first Canadian athlete to compete in both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games in the same year for cross-country ski relay and canoe racing. (Sue Holloway, 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Photo courtesy of the Canadian Olympic Committee.)

April 7, 1977

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The Toronto Blue Jay’s first game at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto against the Chicago White Sox to a cheering crowd of 44,649 fans was won by the Jays 9-5. (Toronto Baseball Stadium, c. 1977. Photo courtesy of the City of Toronto Archives.)


Canada’s Constitution Act was signed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. With it came the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


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Toronto’s Carling Bassett was the only Canadian to have broken into the top 10 singles on the professional tennis tour during the century. (Carling Bassett. Photo courtesy of Tennis Canada.)


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Canadian swimmers Alex Baumann and Victor Davis both won gold medals in swimming at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Baumann, the flag bearer for the Games, won gold in the men’s 200-metre individual medley and a gold in the men’s 400-metre medley. Davis won a gold medal in the men’s 200-metre breaststroke. (Alex Baumann, 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of the Canadian Olympic Committee.)


The Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series, defeating the Atlanta Braves 4-3, to become the first team to win a World Series title outside the United States. It was also a team record season with 96 wins and 66 losses. The Toronto Blue Jays won again in 1993.


Paul Tracy of Scarborough won the Toronto Molson Indy car race. He also won again in 2003. Watch Tracy win the race here.

(Video) Intercounty Baseball League of Ontario


What sports are played in Ontario Canada? ›

Active teams
  • Ice hockey.
  • Basketball.
  • Baseball.
  • Canadian football.
  • Lacrosse.
  • Soccer.

What Canadian sport is oldest? ›

The roots of organized sports in Canada date back to the 1770s, often originating in horse racing at British military garrisons, curling in Scottish settlements, and lacrosse among the Indians. Perhaps the first athletic celebrities were the Canadian scullers who won several international championships.

When did sports become popular in Canada? ›

The roots of organized sports in Canada date back to the 1770s, culminating in the development and popularization of the major professional games of ice hockey, lacrosse, basketball, baseball, soccer, football and cricket.

What was Canada's national sport prior to 1994? ›

Lacrosse was declared Canada's national game in 1859. However, in 1994, Canadian Parliament passed Canada's National Sport Act, which made lacrosse the national summer sport, and hockey the national winter sport.

What is Ontario's national sport? ›

2 The game commonly known as ice hockey is hereby recognized and declared to be the national winter sport of Canada and the game commonly known as lacrosse is hereby recognized and declared to be the national summer sport of Canada.

What sport did Canada invent? ›

The Canadian invented sports, lacrosse, basketball, five-pin bowling, ringette, and wheelchair rugby, all exemplify those social functions. Among these sports, lacrosse has the richest history because it developed as an Aboriginal game that was played out as a ritual rather than as a competition.

Which of the 4 major sports is the oldest? ›

Major League Baseball is the highest level of play of baseball in North America and the world, and the oldest of the major American leagues. It consists of the National League (founded in 1876) and the American League (founded in 1901).

What is the #1 sport in Canada and why? ›

The most popular sport in Canada for many years has been ice hockey. Ice hockey is sometimes named Canada's national winter sport, and the NHL was first founded in Montreal in 1917, eventually broadening beyond Canada and into the U.S. in the 1923-1924 season.

What's Canada's second most popular sport? ›

What Are the Most Popular Sports in Canada?
  • Ice Hockey. Undoubtedly, ice hockey is the most popular sport in Canada and has been since 187. ...
  • Lacrosse. The next most popular sport in Canada is lacrosse. ...
  • Basketball. ...
  • Baseball. ...
  • Cricket. ...
  • Soccer. ...
  • Curling. ...
  • Canadian Football.
5 days ago

What Canadian sport dominated in the first games? ›

Canada sent over 12 athletes to compete, 11 men and a woman. Nine of those men played hockey. The Toronto Granites represented Canada in hockey, winning all five of their games. "Winning" doesn't really cut it, the team outscored its opponents 110 to 3.

What is Canada's signature sport? ›

Hockey, our national winter sport, was invented in Canada in the 1800s, and basketball was invented by Canadian Dr. James Naismith in 1891 to condition young athletes during the winter. Today, soccer is the most popular sport among Canadian children.

What was Canada before 1982? ›

A governor general fulfilled the constitutional duties of the British sovereign on Canadian soil. Similar arrangements applied within each province. Despite this autonomy, the United Kingdom still had the power to legislate for Canada, and Canada was thus still legally a self-governing British dominion.

What is Canada's oldest and official summer sport? ›

TRUE: Canada has two national sports: ice hockey and lacrosse. Lacrosse was the official sport of Canada between 1859 to 1994. In 1994, Bill C-121 made hockey the official Canadian winter sport and lacrosse became Canada's official summer sport.

What is Ontario most known for? ›

Besides being Canada's main economic hub, Ontario is also known for its natural diversity, including vast forests, beautiful provincial parks, four of the five Great Lakes and the world-famous Niagara falls.

What is Ontario's old name? ›

Initially called Upper Canada, Ontario became the name of the province when it and Quebec separated in 1867.

What is Canada's fastest-growing sport? ›

From a cultural standpoint, hockey is Canada's favourite sport. But among the fastest-growing sports in the country, soccer ranks first. As of 2022, there are more than one million registered soccer players in Canada.

What are the 4 major sports in Toronto? ›

Toronto has teams in nearly every North American major professional league, including the Toronto Blue Jays (MLB), Toronto Argonauts (CFL), Toronto Raptors (NBA), Toronto FC (MLS) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL).

Do Canadians call it soccer? ›

Terminology. Soccer is played in Canada according to the rules of association football. What is called soccer in Canada today was generally known as football in Canada in the early days of the sport, as it is known in much of the rest of the world today.

Is CFL older than NFL? ›

David Holmes, 51, a lifelong fan of Vancouver's CFL team, the BC Lions, happily points out that the first recorded game of Canadian football took place in 1861, eight years before the first documented American football match.

Did Canada invent hockey? ›

The modern sport of ice hockey was developed in Canada, most notably in Montreal, where the first indoor game was played on March 3, 1875. Some characteristics of that game, such as the length of the ice rink and the use of a puck, have been retained to this day.

Did a Canadian invent baseball? ›

Some fans may not know it, but the first recorded game of baseball took place in Canada, a year before Abner Doubleday supposedly "invented" the game in Cooperstown, New York.

What was the 1st sport ever? ›

What is the first sport ever played? Although it is impossible to know for sure, it is usually considered that wrestling and boxing were the first sports ever played. Competitions using the simple mode of human transport, running, would also have been among the first sports played.

What is the 2nd oldest sport? ›

Wrestling as a modern day sport is still widely popular, even though it has come to evolve and develop into many different types and categories. Not only is running the second oldest sports activity in the world, it is also the first Olympic sport to have a written record off its event, dating back to 776 BC.

What was the first official sport? ›

Polo first appeared in Persia around 2,500 years ago, making it the oldest known team sport… and one for the rich and wealthy, as team members had to have their own horse. And these games were huge - elite training matches with the king's cavalry could see up to 100 mounted players per side.

What was the last sport to be invented? ›

Developed between 2003 and 2005 by Filip Eyckmans, Bossaball is played on an inflatable court that takes less than 45 minutes to set up.

What came first baseball or football? ›

Baseball had been around in the two decades before the Civil War, and American football since the start of the last quarter of the 1800s, but basketball nonetheless shares the distinction of also being an American original.

What was the golden age of sports? ›

The 1920s has been called the Golden Age of American Sports.

What sport do Canadians play the most? ›

The most popular sports in Canada
  1. Basketball. Basketball is one of the most popular sports in Canada, and of course, you can place different types of bets on basketball games. ...
  2. American Football. ...
  3. Baseball. ...
  4. Ice Hockey. ...
  5. Football.
10 Jun 2022

What game is Canada known for? ›

Ice hockey is perhaps the most popular sport in Canada. Invented by J.G. Creighton in 19th-century Montreal, ice hockey has since become the country's official national sport.

What is the 3rd most popular sport in Canada? ›

Soccer is the 3rd largest sport in Canada and doesn't look to be slowing down even though the Canadians have not had much success apart from the bronze medal back in 2012.

What is the number one game in Canada? ›

Minecraft was the best-selling video game in Canada in 2020. Two years later, the video-game is still a top-seller in Canada. Why is Minecraft so popular in Canada? For starters, you can create virtually anything in the sandbox ecosystem.

What is the biggest sport in Toronto? ›

Most Popular Sports in Toronto
  • Ice Hockey. Ice hockey is Canada's official national winter sport. ...
  • Basketball. Basketball is the most popular sport among Toronto's young and millennials, and it is one of the city's fastest-growing sports. ...
  • Baseball. ...
  • Football. ...
  • Soccer.
4 Aug 2021

What country invented hockey? ›

The modern game of hockey emerged in England in the mid-18th century and is largely attributed to the growth of public schools, such as Eton. The first Hockey Association was formed in the UK in 1876 and drew up the first formal set of rules.

What was Canada's national sport before hockey? ›

A Forgotten National Sport: Colonial Cricket

Below is a photo of a program for three matches played at the Toronto Cricket Grounds in September, 1879. Unknown to most Canadians, cricket was once declared Canada's national sport by our first Prime Minister Sir John A. McDonald.

Was Football invented by a Canadian? ›

While Canadian James Naismith invented basketball, American style “football” also came from Canada, after Americans played a game developed in Canada.

What games came from Canada? ›

  • 4D Sports Boxing.
  • 4D Sports Tennis.
  • The 4th Coming.
  • 007: Quantum of Solace.
  • 1942: Joint Strike.
  • 2002 FIFA World Cup (video game)
  • 2006 FIFA World Cup (video game)
  • 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa (video game)

What are 4 famous Canadian athletes? ›

Olympic athletes
  • Alex Baumann, Sudbury, swimmer.
  • Josh Binstock (born 1981), volleyball player.
  • Patrick Chan, Ottawa.
  • Victor Davis, Guelph.
  • Andre De Grasse, Scarborough/Markham.
  • Lori Dupuis, Cornwall.
  • Dave Edge (born 1954), British-Canadian Olympic long-distance runner.
  • Terry Farnsworth (born 1942), Olympic judoka.

What sport is popular in Toronto? ›

Soccer is one of the most popular sports worldwide, and Toronto is no exception. The Toronto Football Club represents the 6ix in major league soccer out of BMO Field, which is also home to the Argonauts.

Is Canada an athletic country? ›

Though hockey and football remain the country's most clichéd and famous, virtually every major organized sport has its share of Canadian fans, and the nation is home to a vast array of professional teams, leagues and players just waiting to be cheered or booed.

What was Canada called before it got its name? ›

Prior to 1870, it was known as the North-Western Territory. The name has always been a description of the location of the territory.

Is Toronto older than Canada? ›

York was renamed and incorporated in 1834 as the city of Toronto.
Settled1750 (as Fort Toronto)
EstablishedAugust 27, 1793 (as York)
44 more rows

What was Canada called in 1846? ›

The Province of Canada was made up of Canada West (formerly Upper Canada) and Canada East (formerly Lower Canada). The two regions were governed jointly until the Province was dissolved to make way for Confederation in 1867.

Was lacrosse invented in Canada? ›

In addition Lacrosse is one of very few sports in this country that can boast of originating from the land proudly called Canada. No one can question the origin of this sport. Jean de Brebeuf recorded observations of a Lacrosse game in 1683 in what is now Southern Ontario, Canada.

What is the oldest sport still around? ›


According to archival data, wrestling is the oldest sport today. Of course, it has changed over the years, but in the 800 to 1200 BC period, it was included in the original set of Olympics. Professional wrestling circuits were initially launched at the same time in Paris, France, in the 1830s.

What is the number 1 sport of Canada? ›

The most popular sport in Canada for many years has been ice hockey. Ice hockey is sometimes named Canada's national winter sport, and the NHL was first founded in Montreal in 1917, eventually broadening beyond Canada and into the U.S. in the 1923-1924 season.

What is a major sport in Canada? ›

Canada's two most popular professional sports are hockey and football. The seven Canadian teams in the National Hockey League all have incredibly loyal fans and strong brand identities. Lacrosse and curling are two highly iconic Canadian sports, but have only limited public appeal.

What sports are considered elite in Ontario? ›

Elite Amateur Leagues and Events
  • Canadian Hockey League.
  • Elite Baseball League of Ontario 18U Division.
  • League 1 Ontario.
  • Ontario Junior “A” Lacrosse League.
  • Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association.
  • Ontario Women's Field Lacrosse U19 “A” League.
  • Provincial Women's Hockey League.
14 Jun 2021

What sport was invented in Canada? ›

The Canadian invented sports, lacrosse, basketball, five-pin bowling, ringette, and wheelchair rugby, all exemplify those social functions. Among these sports, lacrosse has the richest history because it developed as an Aboriginal game that was played out as a ritual rather than as a competition.

What is Canada's fastest growing sport? ›

From a cultural standpoint, hockey is Canada's favourite sport. But among the fastest-growing sports in the country, soccer ranks first. As of 2022, there are more than one million registered soccer players in Canada.

What is Canada's Favourite game? ›

The national winter sport of Canada and the most popular sport among all Canadians, Ice Hockey can be dated back to the 19th century when various stick and ball games, both from the United Kingdom and from the indigenous communities of Canada, influenced a new game into existence.

Why is there no NFL team in Canada? ›

It has been suggested that one of the reasons the NFL would not want to put a franchise in Canada and risk putting the CFL out of business is that the CFL offers antitrust protection as a competing league.

Do Canadian athletes get paid? ›

Canada has what the Canadian Olympic Committee calls the Athlete Excellence Fund (AEF), a support and reward program that provides Canadian athletes with performance rewards. A gold medal earns a Canadian Olympian $20,000, a silver medal is worth $15,000, and a bronze medal earns an athlete $10,000 in Canadian dollars.

What sports are very social? ›

Top 10 Most Sociable Sports
  • Skiing and snowboarding. Many people pick their resort for the quality of the après-ski rather than the skiing itself! ...
  • Tennis. Most clubs operate an active social side for their members with events outside of the tennis. ...
  • Hiking. ...
  • Badminton. ...
  • Cricket. ...
  • Scuba diving. ...
  • Soccer. ...
  • Martial arts.


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