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Interesting Facts About National Sport of Canada

Though there is a national sport of Canada, it is a country with many popular team sports like soccer, baseball, basketball, and sporting events like the Canadian football league. There are several professional leagues that Canada shares with its neighbor, the United States of America.

Teams participating in these Major leagues consist of 7 franchisee teams in the National hockey league, 3 teams in major league soccer, and one team in a major basketball league.

Apart from these popular games, there are two widely popular sports in Canada. i.e. ice hockey which is the national sport of Canada for winter and lacrosse which is the national sport of Canada for summer. These two sports were identified as Canada’s national sports with the National Sports of Canada Act, passed by the Canadian parliament in 1994.

Since then, there are two national sports in Canada. The history and story of Lacrosse becoming the national summer sport of Canada and of ice hockey becoming the national winter sport of Canada is an interesting one.

Lacrosse

What is Lacrosse and How is it Played?

Photo by Gene Gallin on Unsplash

Canada’s summer sport, Lacrosse is a very active team sport which is played with a stick, to which a net is attached to one end and players have to catch the rubber ball into the net.

It is played in a field that is 110 yards long and 60 yards wide. They have to shoot the ball in a goalpost, which is 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide. The Playing field is split up into a defensive area, an attack area, and a wing area as in the sports like football.

As in basketball, players can run, shoot and catch the ball but they have to do this with the help of a stick. National game lacrosse is a very competitive sport and requires lasting stamina in players because it requires a lot of running.

Players have to wear protective gear such as helmets, face guards, gloves, and pads to avoid any fatal injury.

History of Lacrosse

The origin Canadian sport of Lacrosse in Canada reverts to the 17th century when it was played by the first nations of Canada. At that time it would be played on the field with 100’s of men and between local tribes of first nations and different villages.

French settlers later learned the game from local peoples of first nations around the 18th century and started liking it. The first recognized game was played between the Indigenous First Nations and Europeans in 1843.

In the 1860s, the father of modern lacrosse, William George Beers introduced rules to modernize the game and founded the Montreal lacrosse club. Later in 1875, National Lacrosse Association, which is now identified as the Canadian Lacrosse Association is established and rules introduced in the rule book by William George Beers were accepted and recognized by National Canadian Lacrosse Association.

Lacrosse As a National Sport of Canada

Lacrosse, the national winter sport of Canada, was considered a National game for many decades until, in 1964, a member of parliament and former president of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, Jack Roxburgh researched the official records of recognition of Lacrosse as a national sport of Canada. But he found that there were no official records and laws declaring Lacrosse as the national sport of Canada.

In October 1964, Jack Roxburgh introduced a bill to declare ice hockey as the national sport of Canada. In response to this, Canadian Lacrosse Association members opposed this move.

After much debate, a new bill was introduced to recognize hockey as the national sport of Canada area for winter and Lacrosse as the summer national sport of Canada. In this way, Lacrosse was selected as Canada’s official summer sport.

The Popularity of Lacrosse and Major Tournaments

Cause of becoming Lacrosse an official summer sport and the national sport of Canada is the vast demand among college youth and amateurs. Lacrosse is loved by Canadians since the start of the 20th century.

Stadiums are always full of capacity whenever there is a Lacrosse match happening in Canada. Though it is Canada’s national summer sport, it is not widespread in the world like other sports and is not popular worldwide.

The Canadian Association is older than any other Lacrosse association in the world and it holds junior and senior championships annually. Lacrosse matches are of two types, one is Box Lacrosse and another one is Open Air Lacrosse. Twice it was part of the Summer Olympics but now it is not recognized as an Olympic game.

Talking about some major Lacrosse tournaments and world championships, World Lacrosse holds five major tournaments of Lacrosse- the World Lacrosse Championship for men, the Lacrosse World Cup for women, the World Indoor Lacrosse Championship for box lacrosse, and the Under-19 Championship for men and women. Each above-mentioned tournament is held once every four years.

The World Lacrosse Championship was started in 1968 by International Lacrosse Federation with only 4 teams- Canada, the United States, England, and Australia.

As the game started to spread, in 2014 World Lacrosse Championship was held with 38 teams. The World Championship tournament is dominated by the US with the US winning 9 out of 12 World Lacrosse Championships while 3 championships were won by a Canadian team. The women’s Lacrosse Championship is also dominated by the US with 8 trophies out of 10 trophies.

First World Indoor Lacrosse Championship was played in 2003 and there were six competing teams in that tournament.

Ice Hockey

Ice hockey, the national sport of Canada for winter, is a game played on the ice, where players skate on the ice field while wearing ice skates. There are two teams with hockey sticks that have to shoot a rubber puck into the opposing team’s goal or net.

The puck is passed between players from different teams, and the task of each team is not only to score goals but also to prevent the opposing team from scoring goals. The match is played in three periods of 20 minutes, and at the end of the match, the team with the most goals wins. win over time.

There is a player called “Goaltender” for defending the puck and to prevent it from entering into the goal post. Each team is having 20 players out of which only 6 players of each team can play at once (2 defenders, a goaltender, and 3 forward players). There is a match official called a referee for inspecting the game to ensure the game is played fairly.

Canadian sport ice hockey is a very popular sport in countries like the USA, Russia, Finland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic but it is the most popular sport in Canada.

Ice hockey is said to be originated in Canada. Ice hockey is Canada’s winter sport and is recognized as a national winter sport. Ice hockey is played on all levels nationwide, like school level, national level. If there is any contribution of Canada to world sports, it is ice hockey.

This national sport of Canada was included in the Olympics in the year 1920, but later it was shifted to the winter Olympic games permanently. Ice Hockey was one of the games that were included in the winter Olympics at that time.

Ice hockey’s leading international championship tournament, the IIFH world championship for men’s and women’s championship is controlled by IIHF(International Ice Hockey Federation).

History and Origin of Ice Hockey

Even though it is said that ice hockey is originated in Canada, some researches show that ice hockey has its roots in connection with the various stick and ball games played over the years in the United Kingdom, North America, and Europe as it was similar to various stick-and-ball games played in Europe and North America.

As reported by the Austin Hockey Association, Scottish Gaelic puc is behind the origin of the word puck. And, the first unofficial game of ice hockey was played in 1855 in Ontario.

Also, it is said that the word “hockey” is derived from the french word “hocquet” which means “stick”. Around 1800, Europeans and indigenous peoples were seen playing some versions of field hockey and various stick and ball games that were identical to field hockey. Also, certain games of ice skating were popular leading to the development of this modern game in Montreal, Canada.

The first game of indoor hockey was played at Victoria Skating Rink in 1875 before the existence of the hockey rink and some features of that game, such as the use of puck and length of ice rink were accepted as it is and remained the same.


Canadian team always dominated in Winter Olympics hence ice hockey justifies its selection for national sport of Canada.

Ice Hockey As National Sport of Canada

In Canada, winter all over the country is quite chilly, which freezes several water sources making ideal playing fields for winter sports like skating and ice hockey.

Earlier, each team was having nearly 50 players and they used to play on the hockey rink which was decided according to the size of the frozen river or lake. Around the 19th century, immigrants from Europe brought several games like bandy, hurling, and field hockey which were similar to ice hockey.

At the very beginning, the games were played on frozen ponds, rivers, lakes, and streets with a hard rubber ball. There was no set of rules and number of players per side while playing the game. The goalposts were made with whatever items they get. But soon they realized that this game is not practical by playing with no set rules and no fixed number of players and after that changes started to come in ice hockey.

The massive increase in the popularity of this national game resulted in the inclusion of the world championship in the winter carnival of Montreal. A few more rules were changed and in 1885, players participated in the Montreal City Hockey League to play a series of regular games. The following year, the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association was founded and different leagues were formed in different cities.

The game’s local rivalry soon developed, providing a large number of enthusiastic players and spectators. Hockey soon attracted patrons, including Sir Stanley of Preston, governor of Canada. He bought the sterling silver bowl as a trophy for the winning team of the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, which soon came to be known as the Stanley Cup. It first won in 1893. By this time, there were many leagues and teams across Canada.

The game’s popularity meant it was widely broadcasted on radio in the 1930s and on television since the 1950s. ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ began in 1952 with Esso as its sponsor, which is one of the highest-rated television in Canada.

The National Hockey League (USA), founded in 1917, has six teams based in Canada, although most of the players in the league are from Canada. The two teams that have won the most Stanley Cups are the Montreal Canadianiens with 24 and the Toronto Maple Leafs with the country’s 13 official winters.

There are over half a million registered players, men, women, and children. Many boys and young adults aspire to play in the National Hockey League. Young people idolize and want to imitate professional players. Ice hockey is Canada’s national sport for winter, the most popular spectator sport, and the most successful sport in international competitions.

Ice Hockey In The Olympics

The 1st World Ice Hockey Championships were held at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium. Canada, represented by the Winnipeg Falcons also dominated the competition and won a gold medal and this gave them an extra boost at home.

The success of Canadian hockey continued. The Toronto Granitz easily won the gold medal at the 1924 First Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France. U of T Grads was founded in 1928 in St. At the Moritz Games, he won a gold medal for the Canadian national team and scored 38 goals in three medal rounds. His Canadian ice hockey success was exceptional for his country.

Other Popular Sports In Canada

Though lacrosse and ice hockey were selected as Canada’s national sport for summer and Canada’s national sport for winter respectively, the popularity of sports in Canada is not limited to just these two sports. There are several other popular sports played in Canada that to on the international level where Canada’s national teams have done pretty well.

1. Baseball

Baseball in Canada dates back to the 19th century and various levels of competition used to be played on national and domestic levels. Baseball is generally considered an American sport, but Canadians also love it. Although there is only one Canadian team in the major leagues, they have won the title twice in a row, in 1992 and 1993. Attending a baseball game is a very traditional holiday for Canadians.

It is not the most popular sport in America, so last-minute tickets are a good buy. There is also a version of baseball that is played specifically in Canada, but it is somewhat less widely accepted.

Baseball in Canada is controlled by Baseball Ottawa. It is a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee and the International Federation. However, Canada’s performance has never been great in this sport, and the highest trophy at a major sporting event is a world championship bronze medal.

2. Basketball

Basketball is a game played between two teams, each consisting of five players. The goal is to throw the ball into the net rings at both ends of the field to score a goal.

Invented in 1891 by James Naismith of Canada while teaching at the YMCA in Springfield, basketball is among the top popular sports in the world today. Basketball is a well popular sport in Canada with more than 354,000 youths played the game in 2014 as according to the Canadian youth sports report, which is among the most played by the youths of age group between 3-17 years.

3. Curling

Curling is a game that evolved in Scotland and spread to other places like Canada and America. Though curling is not as popular as sports like ice hockey and lacrosse, still it is widely played across America, Canadian players regularly participate in Olympic games and there are also active professional clubs of curling present in Canada.

4. Football

Photo by Joppe Spaa on Unsplash

The current sport of Canadian football is very similar to American football, with a few important differences: the Canadian field is much larger (9m longer, 6m wider, and with a deeper end area of 13 m); Canada’s version of the game allows 12 players per side, compared with 11 in the United States, and allows players to move more before the ball is brought into play; only 3 shots, compared to 4 in the US, are allowed for the attacking team to take 10 yards and retain possession of the ball.

The receiving team must toss the ball back, with no option of calling the dead ball a “fair catch”; any member of the court after the attack can move before the ball falls.

Other minor differences exist, for example, there is a 1-meter limited area between the offensive and defensive lines. Supporters of the Canadian version argue that it is more interesting and unpredictable than American football.

Thereby, that article has fulfilled the purpose of explaining what is the national sport of Canada, what is Lacrosse and Ice hockey and how both games are played, along with the history of national sports of Canada and how these two sports were selected as national sports of Canada.

Written by Shubham Shende

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