History of Lacrosse
The history of this sport pre-dates even the earliest European settlers to Canada. Lacrosse, which the Native People of North America knew under such names as Baggataway or Tewaarathon, played a significant role in the community and religious life of tribes across the continent for as long as anyone can remember.
Its specific origin lost in the antiquity of myth, lacrosse remains a notable contribution of the Native culture to modern Canadian society. A deep spiritual involvement characterized Native lacrosse, and those who took part brought glory and honour to their tribes.
In the 1840s, the first games of lacrosse were played between settlers and the Native People. Though it was many years before any significant wins were logged against the Natives, the game of lacrosse quickly won the loyalty and interest of the newest North Americans and Parliament named lacrosse Canada's National Game in 1859.
In 1867, the Montreal Lacrosse Club, headed by Dr. George Beers, organized a conference in Kingston to create a national body whose purpose would be to govern the sport throughout Canada. The National Lacrosse Association became the first national sport governing body in North America dedicated to the regulation of a sport, the standardization of rules and competition, and the running of national championships to promote good fellowship and unity across the country. The unforgettable motto of the organization was:
"OUR COUNTRY – OUR GAME"
Lacrosse, because of its unique history, exists as a link between the disparate components of Canadian history, First Nations and European settlers. The European concepts of structure and rules were added to the religious and social rituals of the first North Americans, and together they produced one of the first symbols of the new Canada, lacrosse.
The advent of the 20th century saw lacrosse as the dominant sport in Canada. There were extensive amateur and professional leagues across the country and teams routinely travelled back-and-forth between Quebec, Ontario, and B.C. to challenge each other for supremacy in the game.
In 1901, Lord Minto, the Governor General of Canada, donated a silver cup to become the symbol of the lacrosse championship of Canada. The Minto Cup, today the symbol of supremacy in the Junior ranks, remains one of the most coveted prizes in lacrosse. In 1910, Sir Donald Mann, chief architect of the Canadian Northern Railway, donated a gold cup to be awarded to the national amateur Senior champion. Today, it is the championship prize of the best Senior team in box lacrosse in Canada.
The coming of the 1930s once again brought innovation to the sport. Promoters married the two most popular games, lacrosse and hockey, and created indoor lacrosse, also known as box lacrosse or boxla. The game was built upon speed and action and very quickly won massive support within the organization.
Today, the Canadian Lacrosse Association recognizes four separate disciplines in lacrosse: box, men’s field, women’s field, and inter-lacrosse. Box lacrosse is a uniquely Canadian sport and is best described as a game of speed and reaction. Men's field lacrosse is a game of patience and strategy, which focuses on control of the ball. The women's field game has stayed truest to the original sport in its play. It is a game based on the skills of passing and ball control. Inter-lacrosse is a non-contact version of the sport designed to be adaptable to the various age and skill levels of the participants.
Lacrosse was re-confirmed by Parliament as the National (Summer) Sport of Canada in 1994. Today, more than 150,000 Canadians still adore this sport because it’s a fun and exciting way to stay active. Centuries in the making, lacrosse still remains our game.
The Canadian Lacrosse Association values the input and suggestions of coaches and volunteers across Canada. Should you have any questions or comments about the sport of lacrosse or the Lacrosse FITS training program, please visit our FAQ or contact us.