Basketball is a sport with deep historic connections to Canada. The game’s inventor, Dr. James Naismith was born in Ramsay Township, near Almonte, Ontario. Educated at McGill University as a physical education teacher, Naismith invented the game in 1891. There were 13 rules used in the original game, which was invented as an indoor game meant to be “fair for all players and not too rough”. The game quickly grew in popularity, and by the turn of the century was being played in YMCAs and colleges across North America.
The first organized intercollegiate basketball game in Canada occurred in Kingston, Ontario in February of 1904. McGill defeated Queen’s by a score of 9-7, in overtime. Basketball also made its debut as a demonstration sport at the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, USA. It would return to the Olympics as an official sport at the 1936 Games in Berlin. There, Canada captured the silver medal, losing the final game to the United States 19-8 in a rain-slogged, outdoor contest. Dr. Naismith was on hand to present the medals.
The International Basketball Federation, now FIBA, was formed in 1932. Women’s Basketball was added as an official Olympic sport in 1976 at the Montreal Games. Canada participated in the innagural competition, placing sixth.
NBA history also makes its start in Canada. The Toronto Huskies were founded for the 1946 inaugural season of the Basketball Association of America, which would go on to become the NBA. The league’s first game took place on November 1, 1946 at Maple Leaf Gardens. On that night, anyone taller than George Nostrand, the tallest Husky at 6'8", was given free admission. Almost a half-century later, NBA basketball returned to Canada when the Vancouver Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors began play in the 1995 season.