Basketball fever has gripped the country thanks to the Toronto Raptor’s historic NBA championship win.
With such a big event, at the museum, we usually think to ourselves: what about here in Maple Ridge?
We have a long and proud history with basketball in our town, with local teams, both men and women, boys and girls.
The history of basketball in our area comes down mostly to high-school teams and in Maple Ridge.
While throughout our history there have been local, regional, and national baseball and hockey teams in which Maple Ridge has played a part, basketball has confined itself mostly to the high schools here in the past 100 years.
After Canadian Dr. James Naismith wrote down the rules of the game, thus creating the sport we know today as basketball, the sport took off like a shot.
It began as simply a means of getting exercise and a good team sport that could be played indoors.
Early teams would consist of local people squaring off against other local teams for a bit of fun.
One such team was the Haney Women’s Basketball Team of 1903.
A picture of the team consists of women from many of the early settler families, including Anne and Elizabeth Haney.
Despite the women jumping, throwing and engaging in the sport, that was no reason for immodesty. The women are pictured in their basketball uniforms, consisting of a long skirt, full-length button up blouse with a corset underneath, and a tie.
Not long after this time, the game was taken up by the local school system.
The game lent itself perfectly to high schools as a way of giving students an opportunity for some exercise and sport during the winter months.
In B.C., it was particularly popular in the early 20th Century as the mild winters led to a short hockey season and the year-round rainy weather kept students inside.
From the beginning, there were both boys’ and girls’ teams at the schools, being one of the only sports at the time to have both playing the same game, albeit separately.
Despite the girls having their own team and having the freedom to engage in activity and sport, a novelty at the time, they still had more restrictive clothing.
While the boys played in knee-length padded pants and wool shirts, the girls’ team was still required to wear full-length skirts and long-sleeve, button-up shirts.
Eventually, through the decades, fashions changed and the rules around the girls’ and women’s uniforms, influenced by general growing equality, slowly changed to what we know today.
Maple Ridge high school basketball teams have long competed in regional leagues and championship series.
Notably, the first local win came with the Maple Ridge High School girls’ team championship victory over Abbotsford in 1946.
The boys’ Ramblers team from Maple Ridge secondary got their championship win in 1986 over Vernon.
With the nation’s attention turning towards basketball, it is important not to forget that our town has its own long and proud history with the sport.
– Shea Henry is curator at
Maple Ridge Museum.