Looking Back: Basketball

Haney women’s basketball team in their uniforms in 1903.

June 26, 2019

Basketball fever has gripped the country thanks to the Raptor’s historic NBA championship win.  With such a big event like this, 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’s, boys and girls. 

The history of basketball in our area comes down to high school teams and the history of the schools in Maple Ridge.  While throughout our history there have been local, regional, and national baseball and hockey teams in which Maple Ridge teams have played, basketball has confined itself to the high schools.   

After Canadian Dr. James Naismith created the game we know as basketball and wrote down the rules, the sport took off like a shot.  The sport 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, in this picture the team consists of a 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 here are pictured in their basketball uniform, consisting of …  

Not long after this time though the game was taken up by the local school system.  The game lent itself so well 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 cold and rainy fall and spring kept students inside.   

From the beginning as well there were both boys and girls teams at the schools, being one of the only sports at the time to have both the boys and girls 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, the girls still had more restrictive clothing.  While the boys played in —- the girls team were still required to wear full.  Eventually, through the decades, fashion, the rules around the girls and women’s uniforms, and general growing equality, slowly changed the girls and women’s uniforms to what we know today.

Maple Ridge high school basketball teams have long competed in regional leagues and championship series.  Notably, the first Maple Ridge win came with the Maple Ridge High School girls team championship victory over Abbotsford in 1946.  The boys Rambler team for 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.