A History of the Grey Cup

With the Canadian Football League’s (CFL) teams opening training camp, I’d like to provide a brief history of the Grey Cup.

The Grey Cup was created in 1909 by the Governor General, the 4th Earl Grey, originally meant for hockey.  However, the Allan Cup was created first, so the Grey Cup was instead given to the top football team in Canada.  The Cup has been awarded yearly since then with the exception of during and immediately following World War I (1916-1919.)

Grey Cup

The Grey Cup.

The Toronto Argonauts, the current Grey Cup Champions, have won the most Grey Cups with 16, having appeared in the championship game 22 times.  The 1995 Champions, the Baltimore Stallions, are the only non-Canadian team to win the Grey Cup, but moved back to Montreal prior to the 1996 season to become the ‘new’ Montreal Alouettes.  The last none CFL team to win the Grey Cup was the St. Hyacinthe-Donnacona Navy team that beat the Hamilton Flying Wildcats.

The Grey Cup Championship game has been hosted by many cities.  Toronto has hosted the game 46 times, most recently the 100th Grey Cup game in 2012, as well as the first back in 1909.  Kingston and Sarnia are tied for the least number of times, both have hosted the game on one occasion.

Host cities breakdown as follows:

Toronto 46 times
Vancouver 15 times
Hamilton 10 times
Montreal 8 times
Ottawa 6 times
Calgary 4 times
Edmonton 4 times
Winnipeg 3 times
Regina 2 times
Kingston 1 time
Sarnia 1 time

The following is the list of the teams that have won the Grey Cup:

Toronto Argonauts (16 times)
Edmonton Eskimos (13 times)
Winnipe Blue Bombers (10 times)
Ottawa Rough Riders (9 times)
Hamilton Tiger-Cats (8 times)
Montreal Alouettes (7 times)
B.C. Lions (6 times)
Calgary Stampeders (6 times)
Hamilton Tigers (5 times)
University of Toronto Varsity Blues (4 times)
Queen’s University (3 times)
Saskatchewan Roughriders (3 times)
Sarnia Imperials (2 times)
Toronto Balmy Beach (2 times)
Baltimore Stallions (1 time)
Hamilton Alerts (1 time)
Hamilton Flying Wildcats (1 time)
Montreal AAA Winged Wheelers (1 time)
St. Hyacinthe-Donnacona Navy (1 time)
Toronto RCAF Hurricanes (1 time)

As Grey Cup games are now played only between CFL teams, the games only take place in the cities where there is a CFL team.  Of the current 8 cities, only 3 have access to a covered dome for the late November game – Vancouver (B.C. Place), Toronto (Rogers Centre), and Montreal (Olympic Stadium.)  The main reason for the building on the Rogers Centre (as the then SkyDome is now known as) was the bad playing conditions of the CNE Exhibition Stadium in November (i.e. the 1962 ‘Fog Bowl’ and particularly the 1982 ‘Rain Bowl’ where fans were heard chanting ‘We want a dome.‘)  As such, I would personally like to see at least every other Grey Cup game played in a domed stadium to ensure good playing conditions.

The Grey Cup is part of Canada’s culture and should be celebrated more than is has been in the past.  The 100th Grey Cup Train crossed Canada prior to the 100th Grey Cup game and showed that Canadians can care about a Championship that is truly Canadian.  Let’s celebrate this.

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