An historical chronology before Confederation
Prepared and collated by Jon Harris, with contributions from K. Boller.
Cricket “was probably the first of the major games played in Canada, being popular in the garrisons in the late 18th century”. (Canadian Encyclopedia.)Records show that in 1785 a game was played on an island near Montreal, in the colony of Lower Canada.
The garrison of Fort York was established in 1793, and is now in the heart of Toronto. Cricket has a long association with the City of Toronto, for cricket had been played at the Home District Grammar School, which was founded in 1807. Most of the early matches played in Toronto were ‘friendlies’,
There is a record of cricket, in the form of an engraving, being played on the ice in 1822-1823. The participants were the crews of two Royal Navy vessels, under the command of Capt. Parry, which became trapped in the ice near the island of Igloolik close to the Arctic Circle. Certainly these games were the venue of the first cricket played in Canada’s far north. Beyond playing cricket, the crews created a year long record of meteorological data.
According to the Canadian Encyclopedia “The first regular club formed was probably the St. John’s Cricket Club (1828).”, Newfoundland. However, it should be noted that The Toronto Cricketing Club was formed by George A. Barber, (1827), and cricket was introduced into Upper Canada College in 1830.
On August 15, 1835, the earliest known record of a Canadian cricket match ? was played in Guelph, Ontario, between the Toronto Cricket Club and the Guelph Cricket Club. Guelph won by 10 wickets.
George Barber was one of the players in “the first international match in cricket history (which) took place between teams from Canada and the United States” (Canadian. Encyclopedia). The game was played at the St. George’s Club, New York in 1844, before 5000 spectators for a wager of $1000.00.
Montreal hosted the first international match in Canada in 1845.
Cricket, has been played since 1849 in Victoria, British Columbia when a British Royal Marine officer, Captain Walter Colquhoun Grant, arrived with some cricket gear. In due course, matches were arranged against visiting Royal Navy ships.
An early record of cricket in London, Ontario, appears in The Eldon House Diaries, which shows a number of references to cricket. The first reference is shown on “1850 Jul 16". “Amelia, Eliza, Mamma, Helen, Teresa & Ellen went up to see the cricket match. When we went all the gentlemen were at luncheon, so we went over to the “Shakespeares” - (an ‘Officer of the Royal Artillery’.).
The first reference to cricket in B.C. dates back to 1852, when according to Margaret Ormsby, in her book "British Columbia, A History" , the game was being taught to school children. (Seebaran, 2000)
The first international match in Ontario was played in 1854 between Canada and the United States.
Matches between the Roal Navy and Victoria cricket clubs began to be reported in the Victoria, B.C. newspapers. (1858) A cricket club was established at Pitt River, British Columbia, and on Vancouver Island, matches were played at Beacon Hill and Colwood..(1860)(Seebaran) The sports reporting for two decades, was almost exclusively devoted to cricket.
“The Cricketer's guide” (l858) reporting on the international match of that year noted that the Canada Match “began in friendly encounters between the Toronto and St. George’s (New York) Clubs.”(1844). The match “first assumed its present goodly proportions of Canada vs. the United States in 1853". The ‘guide’ noted 81 matches played in Ontario in the 1857 season.
The first overseas tour, involving any sport, occurred in the fall of 1859 when an England X1 visited the colony of Lower Canada, (now the Province of Quebec)
playing two matches in Montreal and one match in Hamilton in the colony of Upper Canada, (now the Province of Ontario). The tour is recorded in “The English Cricketers Trip to Canada & The United States”, Fred Lillywhite (1860). A more local perspective of the game played in Hamilton is to be found in the Eldon Diaries.
The "Westminster Folk" established a cricket club on the British Columbia mainland, 1860. According to the British Columbia Cricket Association, the Albion Cricket Club, formed in 1861, is the oldest club still existence. (In western Canada)
The year after the incorporation of the City of Victoria, 1863, the local newspaper announced that "The first cricket match of the season will be played tomorrow at Beacon Hill", which suggests that cricket was formally organised before 1863.
The North West Cricket Club was formed 1864 in Winnipeg.
The Nanaimo CC in British Columbia, is referred to, in an exchange of correspondence about the use of part of the Nanaimo Indian Reserve, for a cricket ground. (1864)
Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, and his cabinet, declared cricket the national sport of Canada in 1867. By this time a pitch had been laid at Rideau Hall, no the official residence of the Governor General of Canada.