The Sudbury Canoe Club Gets Involved

The Sudbury Canoe Club decided to sponsor Sudbury football in 1933 and by September of 1934, the S.C.C. had succeeded in helping to establish a Northern Ontario league.  The Northern Ontario Rugby Football Union (N.O.R.F.U.) consisted of teams from Sudbury and North Bay and was affiliated with the Ontario Rugby Football Union (O.R.F.U.).

Sudbury Football Club - 1934.  Photo courtesy of "Homegrown Heroes: A Sports History of Sudbury".On Thanksgiving of 1934, Sudbury played the first N.O.R.F.U. game at the Athletic Field in Sudbury against North Bay.  A crowd of 700 spectators, the largest number of people to attend a sporting event at the field during that time, came to watch the championship game.  The Sudbury Paddlers beat North Bay and were eager to play for the provincial title.  But, as was common in those days, Sudbury was ignored by the provincial organization and was excluded from competing for the Ontario title.

Practices were difficult to schedule during these years as most of the men worked at the mine.  As such, they were subject to shift work schedules and often could not make it to a football practice before 5:30 p.m. if at all.  Since Sudbury did not have floodlights installed on its playing field, most practices were hurried affairs in which players tried to learn as many plays as they could before darkness fell.

The following year, in 1935, N.O.R.F.U. got its chance to play in the provincial championships as Sudbury competed against Camp Borden for the title.  Despite a solid effort, Sudbury lost the game by three points.

In 1936, football once again disappeared from the northern horizon as North Bay ceased to compete in N.O.R.F.U., leaving Sudbury without a team to play against.  Sudbury was eventually forced to cancel the league when promised competition from the south did not come because southern teams refused to travel north.  Football ceased to be played outside of high school for another sixteen years.


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