Recognized as Canada’s only official national sport from 1859 to 1994, the game of lacrosse has been played in the country since the early 17th century. By the turn of the 20th century, it was the most dominant sport in Canada. Keep reading to find out more about its history and how it became so famous in Canada.
First Nations starts
The First Nations, Canada’s indigenous people, were recorded playing the game of lacrosse back in the early 17th century by European settlers. The Algonquin people called it Baggataway, while the Iroquois Nation named it Tewaarathon. The First Nations played the game for their Creator, as it was a method that they used to celebrate and to show their gratitude to the Great Spirit.
The name came from French settlers, who found the stick looked like a Bishop’s crozier which in French means “crosse,”. That’s the reason why they started calling the game La Crosse, and the term obviously French-origins. It wasn’t until the 1800s that Montreal residents became so fond of the sport, and they started playing games against the First Nations.
Our Country, Our Game
Patriot William George Beers is recognized as the father of modern lacrosse. In the 1860s, he issued a pamphlet that explained the rules and instructions for the sport. He also replaced the deerskin ball with its modern version made from hard rubber. Dr. Beers’ Montreal Lacrosse Club hosted a conference in 1867 to found the National Lacrosse Association (today is the Canadian Lacrosse Association).
It was North America’s first national sport governing body aims to standardize rules, monitor national championships, and “promote good fellowship and unity across the nations,” according to the information on CLA website. The organization’s motto was “Our Country, Our Game.” By the end of 1867, there were 80 lacrosse teams officially operate across Canada.