The City of Edmonton Archives acquired a 35-volume set of scrapbooks from the Edmonton Eskimos football team about 10 years ago. The photographs, team and player profiles, and newspaper clippings provide a fascinating history of football in Edmonton.
The earlier volumes, with material dating from 1880 to 1973, contain many photographs. One of my volunteer assignments at the Archives was to scan the photographs so that they could be made available online.
Fortunately for the Archives, I wasn’t being paid by the hour! While doing the scanning, I had the opportunity to peruse these two volumes and learn more trivia than any football enthusiast could ever dream of. The next several paragraphs highlight just a few of the many things I enjoyed.
One interesting aspect of reviewing the material was to see how the unique game of Canadian football evolved from its roots in the British game of rugby. As late as the 1950s, many Canadian football teams, and even Canadian football leagues, had the word rugby in their title. The various photographs show the corresponding evolution of uniforms and equipment.
Canadian football has nationwide popularity today. It is evident from the early material, that Canadian football was popular in Edmonton even more than 100 years ago. One can also note historical milestones of the game’s continued increase in popularity. For example:
Material on the team’s glory years of the 1950s takes you through the building of a championship dynasty. For example:
Another note of interest to sports fans is that the Archives house an amazing amount of material on the early days of most sports in Edmonton. For example, you can:
I encourage anyone with an interest in Edmonton’s sporting history to visit the City of Edmonton Archives, located in the Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre at 10440-108 Avenue. They are open Monday-Friday from 8:30am-4:30pm and Wednesday from 8:30am to 8:00pm.
MS-396 Edmonton Eskimo Football Club fonds
EA-780 Edmonton Eskimo Football Club