Can you guess these four sports that were invented by Canadians?
Canada’s comprised of almost 10 million square kilometres of land. That’s a lot of space to play with! To help you explore our great Canadian landscape, we’ve drummed up four quintessentially Canadian activities to get you moving. Did you know that basketball, hockey, lacrosse and five-pin bowling were all invented by Canadians?
If you’re looking to challenge yourself and try something new this summer, choose the sport you’re least familiar with, and give it a go.
Lacrosse is officially Canada’s national summer sport, so-named by the National Sports Act of Canada in 1994. The Indigenous Huadenosaunee (Iroquois) are first thought to have played a lacrosse-like sport, with sticks and balls, more than 900 years ago. The sport was introduced in what is now Ontario in the 1600s, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Present-day lacrosse can be a very physical team sport, almost like ice hockey without the ice, plus straight sticks with nets on the end (instead of curved hockey sticks) and hard rubber balls (instead of pucks). Inexpensive lacrosse sets – including nets, balls, sticks and goalie sticks – can be found at sporting goods stores, and they can be a blast to play with at a park or on the beach.
The physical benefits are built into the game: A lacrosse field is about 100 metres long and approximately 55 metres wide; running through a field this size is a high-impact aerobic activity, which in turn gets hearts and lungs pumping, and increases stamina.
Basketball is another indoor/outdoor sport. You can play in a school yard or a community centre, and if you’ve got a hoop handy, all you need is the ball. Invented by Dr. James Naismith, who was born near Toronto in 1861 and moved to the United States after his studies at McGill University, basketball is the second-most-popular sport in the world, after soccer.
Basketball is adaptable. You can play by yourself – just shooting hoops or dribbling the afternoon away – or with a friend in a two-on-two match, or in larger teams. And it’s a bone-builder. Physiologically, muscle tugs and pushes against bone when we pound down the court and that in turn aids in the formation of new bone tissue, and makes bones stronger.
Sure, hockey is our country’s official winter sport, but ball hockey is a great summer alternative. Lots of communities have summer ball hockey leagues, for kids and adults alike, that take advantage of hockey rinks that have gone quiet over the summer, and patches of pavement around empty schools. Ball hockey improves overall speed and stamina, and the fast footwork sharpens our coordination—which is important, especially as we age.
Five-pin bowling was invented out of necessity by a 10-pin alley owner in Toronto, Thomas F. Ryan. Patrons asked Ryan for a lighter ball and quicker game so they could squeeze in a game during their lunch breaks, and he complied.
Bowling is a great heat-advisory or rainy day activity, and it’s doable for all ages. Most alleys have “ramps” for little kids to roll their ball down in a straight line, and more advanced 10-pin lanes for the straight shooters. And while it’s not exactly a high-octane, high-adrenaline sport, the mechanics of bowling has us stretching and flexing our arms and bending our legs, which activates and lubricates our tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints.
For an outdoor DIY activity, try making your own five-pin game using upcycled water bottles or tin cans. No computerized scoring here, so take a tutorial before you start. Or, better yet, don’t keep score and just enjoy the game!