Blog Archives

16. Canadian Clubs: 20th century Canadian football

Ever since 1880, the American game had been played eleven-a-side.  Burnside suggested Canada fielded twelve. Perhaps teams of eleven would have made it too laughingly obvious that he was not far short of suggesting a wholesale imitation of the game that was going down a storm in the States.

The lack of unity made it easier for American innovations, from the snap to downs-to-go, to gradually find their way in differing measures into what the Canadians were still calling rugby.

And just as Ontario and Quebec looked to be settling their differences, a new division emerged between the eastern clubs and the newer ones emerging in the west.

Not even when the Grey Cup was instigated in 1909 was there anything remotely resembling a standard code of Canadian football.

Eventually most American innovations, including the forward pass, found their way north, but there was never a wholesale importation of the American code, meaning that several quirks of history remain in the CFL.

To read the full story, order your copy of the Same Old Game!