Cricket in Edmonton – More than a game !
by James Hunt
What was the first National sport of Canada?
What was the first organized sport in Edmonton?
The sport of Cricket has not received the attention and development of other North American sports but the Edmonton cricket club and other clubs in the City proudly continue to play here and continue to be part of a significant history. Edmonton cricket club was founded in 1882 when games were started between the men of Fort Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan. Strathcona cricket club began in those early days also.
In 2007 Edmonton C.C. celebrated its 125th year anniversary. Names attached to the club in those early days include: Richard Secord, Ed. Looby, Richard Hardisty, Dr. Wilson. All are significant contributors to the early development of our city.
It is unknown to many that cricket was declared the first national sport of Canada by Prime Minister J.A.MacDonald in1867. The first games in Canada were recorded in 1785 between British troops in Quebec. In 1829 the Toronto cricket club was founded and the western provinces formed their own clubs later: Winnipeg in 1864, Victoria in 1876 and Edmonton in 1882.
An Early photograph on record for Edmonton Cricket Club was taken in 1905.
Percy Hardisty also played football for the Toronto Arganauts. Hurdis Jones had 5 or six sons who were all involved in cricket. They were members of a team called the Incogs after a wartime platoon called Incognitos. The Incogs won the trophy several times in the late 1920’s. Llewellyn Petley Jones left to become a notable artist in Paris. Mel Petley Jones, born in1914 lives in the Edmonton area.
In 1912 the local newspapers of Edmonton donated a league trophy to the Edmonton league.
The newspapers then were:
- Daily Bulletin
- Saturday NewsIt was won that year by the Hudson Bay team.
The wonderful silver trophy has been awarded to the winning team at the end of each season ever since. The trophy is almost 100 years old and is in some need of repair. The league members hope to achieve this and restore the treasure by the year of its 100th birthday.
The standard of Edmonton cricket has had mixed fortunes. In 1932 the sport was deemed grand enough to host an Australian touring side. The Australian side featured one of the most famous world cricketers of all time; Donald Bradman played in our city. Mel Petley Jones recalls the day when Bradman hit a six on the south side ground that cleared the Calgary trail.
As other sports gained favor in North America and the short season for cricket limited its growth; the sport has struggled financially.
Despite some hardship the members of the league are excited about the progress of many young and talented players. Alberta sides have played very well in National competition and several players have been selected to represent Canada. This article is but a small part of Edmonton’s cricket history and the work to gather information and stories continues.
Dr. Bryn Whittaker [President of the Edmonton Cricket Club] is actively working on collecting artifacts, old scorebooks, information and memorabilia from the sport in Edmonton, and is looking for input from members of the community.