Early Canadian Football (1861-1909)

There are 4 main versions of Gridiron Football: the traditional 11v11 game played in USA, a 12v12 version of the game played in Canada, and a 8v8 version of the game played Indoors on converted Ice Hockey Arenas.


[1] Professional Football Researchers Association (2011) “No Christian End!” The Early History of Professional Football. pg. 23-32. PFRA Publications. Connecticut.

football game
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The 12 players per team dates to 1874 when McGill University from Montreal challenged Harvard University in Massachusetts to two games of Football – one under Harvard’s American Rules, and one under McGill’s Rugby rules. At the time Soccer (Association Football) was favoured in USA Colleges, and Harvard had continued to play by “Boston Rules” (an early version of the game played in Boston). Canadian Football at the time favoured Rugby rules. Only 12 players made the trip to Harvard for the game from McGill, and as well as both Universities favouring the smaller number of players (there is 15 on a Rugby team), Harvard liked the idea of a Touchdown, as used in the Canadian Rugby version of the game. From then on the Harvard-McGill rules won out in both USA and Canada over Rugby and Soccer (with 12 players in Canada and 11 in USA). [For References see The Early History of Professional Football by the Professional Football Researchers Association – see [1] under Bibliography.

Early Canadian Football 1861-1909

Early Canadian Football 1861-1909

Canadian Rugby Union

Canadian Rugby Union 1898-1906

Canadian Rugby Football Union

Canadian Rugby Union Senior Champions 1892-1908

Canadian Rugby Football Union Senior Champions 1884-1887

Canadian Rugby (Football) University v Toronto 1875

CRFU (Results): 1887 1886 1885 1884

Ontario Rugby Football Union

ORFU (Results): 1891 1890 1889 1888 1883

Quebec Rugby Football Union

QRFU (Results): 1891 1890 1889 1888 1883