Sport in Ottawa

Sport in Ottawa, Canada's capital, has a history dating back to the 19th century. Ottawa is now home to four professional sports teams: the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League; the Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League; the Ottawa Champions of the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball; and the Ottawa Fury of the United Soccer League. Several non-professional teams also play in Ottawa, including the Ottawa 67's junior hockey team and other semi-professional and collegiate teams in various sports.


Ice hockey

Ice hockey began in Ottawa with the Stanley Cup in 1893. The city dominated the hockey world during the first quarter of the 20th century, with Ottawa teams winning 11 Cups from 1903 to 1927. The original Ottawa Senators were one of the original members of the National Hockey League which was founded in 1917. The team folded during the Great Depression in 1934, and moved to St. Louis to become the St. Louis Eagles. The Senators returned to the National Hockey League in 1992. They play at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata.

In junior hockey the city is represented by the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League. The team began play in 1967, Canada's centennial year. Ottawa played host to the Memorial Cup tournament in 1972 and 1999. Ottawa also played host to the 2009 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.

Ottawa also has a minor hockey program, and plays host to the Bell Capital Cup each year. The city is home to five teams in the Central Junior Hockey League, four teams in the Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League and two teams in the Eastern Ontario Junior C Hockey League.

Canadian football

The Ottawa Rough Riders were a Canadian Football League team that was founded in 1876 and would prove to be one of the oldest tenured sports franchises in North America.[1] The team won nine Grey Cup championships over its long history but due to poor team play, poor attendance records and even worse management, the Rough Riders folded after the 1996 season, ending 120 years of professional football in Ottawa.

Five years later, a CFL expansion franchise was granted to the City of Ottawa. The team, called the Ottawa Renegades, began play in 2002, but folded in 2006 after just four seasons, due again to poor management.[2] Less than two years later, in March 2008, a new franchise was awarded to the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, led by Jeff Hunt, to begin play in 2010. The franchise was conditional upon reconstruction of Frank Clair Stadium, leading to a four-year delay for the team. The third iteration of professional football in Ottawa, the Ottawa Redblacks, began play in 2014, playing in the newly refurbished TD Place Stadium.[1]

The University of Ottawa Gee-Gees football teams have won two Vanier Cups with their first in 1975 and then again in 2000. Carleton University also had a football team from 1945–1998, but the program was cancelled after the 1998 season. There have since been efforts to revive the program, with the football team being approved for Ontario University Athletics membership beginning in 2013.[3] The rivalry between the two schools was heated, and the annual game between the two teams was known as the Panda Game.[4]

The city also has two junior teams. The Ottawa Sooners play in the Canadian Junior Football League while the Ottawa Junior Riders play in the Quebec Junior Football League.


The Ottawa Rowing Club was founded on 6 June 1867,[5]. One of its founders and first patron was Sir John A. Macdonald; other members of the first executive committee included Robert Lyon (politician), mayor of Ottawa, and; Allan Gilmour, businessman in the shipping and timber industries. The original club house was a wooden building, initially built on pontoons, and moored to the shore of the Ottawa river at the foot of parliament hill, between the Rideau canal and the Chaudière falls. Whilst the view from the club house over the Chaudière falls was picturesque, the rowing conditions were difficult: vast field of sawdust and other refuse from an immense lumber mill situated about the falls, and logs escaping from the booms. Each spring, along with the melting ice, the club house floated downstream and came aground. Every year it was brought back up near the Rideau canal. In the early 1870s, the ORC ceased to exist before being re-introduced on 25 June 1875 with approximately 100 members.[6]

In 1884 and 1885, the club house suffered important damage when it sank. Members of the Ottawa Rowing Club, led by P. D. Ross, discussed building a permanent foundation for the club boat house in 1887.[7] In spring 1896, the members of the Club decided to purchase a piece of the river front property at 10 Lady Grey Drive and leave the club house in its current, permanent location.

For six consecutive years, from 1905 to 1911, members of the club were the North American champions.[8] The two world wars were difficult years for the club, with fourteen members of the club losing their lives while serving during World War I[9] and with the shell house being neglected and showing signs of deterioration.

During the Depression years, P.D. Ross, former editor of the defunct Ottawa Journal, was president of the club. He infuriated his reporters by paying them small salaries while openly spending into equipment and upkeep for the rowing club.[10]

In 1949, the Ottawa Rowing Club accepted to contribute to the development of the rowing program at the University of Ottawa by offering equipment and coaches.[11] However, the 1950s and 1960s was a period of decline for the Ottawa Rowing Club. After seizing Club due to financial constraints, the City of Ottawa agreed to restore in 1967 the part of the old shell house that exists today but decided to demolish the other half of the building due to its poor condition (that portion of the building stored boats and included a ballroom).[12] On that year, there were only nine members of the Club and the permanent closure of the club was being debated.[13]

Volunteers, such as Peter King, supported the development of rowing in Ottawa in the 1970s. The rowing boom resulted in two new clubs (that do not exist anymore): the Nepean Rowing Club and the Ottawa Carleton Rowing School. With close to 1000 members, the Ottawa Rowing Club is one of the largest rowing club in Canada. It hosts three regatta per year.


Both Carleton University and the University of Ottawa sport varsity men's teams. The U Sports Men's Basketball Championship has been held in Ottawa from 2008 to 2010 and 2013 to 2014. The city plays host to the Capital Hoops Classic every January where both university teams play at Canadian Tire Centre. The first classic set a record for the highest attended university game in Canadian history.[14]

The Ottawa SkyHawks were a professional basketball team that played in the National Basketball League of Canada in 2013. They later folded in 2014.[15]


The city is home to 15 curling clubs, more than any other municipality in eastern Canada. The city has hosted four Briers and one Tournament of Hearts. The 2001 Nokia Brier was the most attended Brier ever in Eastern Canada at the time. Ottawa has sent four teams to the Brier to represent Ontario: Eldon Coombe (1972), Earle Morris (1985), Rich Moffatt (1999) and Bryan Cochrane (2003). Ottawa has also sent 15 teams to the Tournament of Hearts: Helen Hanright (1964), Dawn Ventura (1974 and 1976), Anne Merklinger (1993, 1994, 1998 and 2000) Jenn Hanna (2005 and 2016), Rachel Homan (2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019). Homan skipped the first Ottawa-based team to win a women's or a men's national championship when she led her Ottawa Curling Club team to a championship at the 2013 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. She won national titles again in 2014 and in 2017. Ottawa also hosted the 2017 Canadian Olympic Curling Trials which was won by Homan, who represented Canada the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Each year, Ottawa hosts one of the largest curling tournaments in the world, the OVCA Ottawa Men's Bonspiel (more commonly known as the "City of Ottawa bonspiel") which has been held since 1956. Ottawa is home to one of the oldest curling clubs in the world, the Ottawa Curling Club which was founded in 1851.

Curling in the Ottawa area is overseen by the Ottawa Valley Curling Association.


Ottawa has had three International League franchises in its history. The Ottawa Giants (1951), the Ottawa Athletics (1952–1955) and most recently, the Ottawa Lynx (1993–2007). The Lynx were once very popular in the city, leading the league in attendance in its inaugural season, but attendance dropped and the team moved to the Lehigh Valley. The Lynx won the Governors' Cup in 1995.

Baseball was revived in Ottawa for the 2008 season, when the Ottawa Rapidz were founded in the independent Can-Am League. However, the team lasted just one season, as it folded, citing high rent for the stadium, despite respectable attendance.

Baseball returned to Ottawa from 2010 to 2012 with the addition of the Ottawa Fat Cats of the Intercounty Baseball League, but they folded before the 2013 IBL season.[16]

The Ottawa Champions, who play at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park, were founded in 2014 and began play in 2015 however the Can-Am League merged with the Frontier League in 2019 and the Champions were left off the 2020 schedule.[17]

Ottawa is also home to the largest amateur baseball league in Canada – the National Capital Baseball League ( The league is a wooden bat league with 37 teams in 4 tiers (as of 2012).


Soccer has been played in Ottawa for over 100 years. Ottawa is active with youth competitive, youth development and adult recreational leagues. The most prominent team was the Ottawa Fury Women, a women's semi-professional team. Ottawa Sports and Entertainment group launched a professional men's team in 2014, the Ottawa Fury, which currently plays in the second-division United Soccer League (USL). Their home is at Lansdowne Park in a redeveloped TD Place Stadium.

Horse racing

Connaught Park Racetrack, located in Aylmer, Quebec operated from 1913 until its closure in 2008. It operated thoroughbred racing until the 1950s, and offered harness racing afterwards. In the early 1960s, Rideau Carleton Raceway was opened south of Ottawa, and it continues to operate a season of harness racing annually, along with off-track betting and gambling. Races have been held on the frozen Rideau Canal and the frozen Ottawa River.


Since 2012, Ottawa has had an active Hurling team made up of both local and Irish players. The team is called the Eire Og Ottawa Hurling Club. Games are played frequently against Montreal Shamrocks GAC. The team also competes in other larger tournaments administered by the Canadian GAA.

Gaelic football

Gaelic football has been present in the capital since the formation of the men's team, the Ottawa Gaels, in 1974 by Pat Kelly and Larry Bradley. The ladies team was formed in 1984 by Breda Kelly and has been dominant in the Toronto GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) for the last decade. Minor players have played at the Continental Youth Championships in the USA.

Australian Rules Football

Australian Rules Football started in 2008 when the Ottawa Swans joined the Ontario Australian Football League (OAFL).

Ultimate frisbee

Ottawa has one of the world's largest ultimate frisbee communities dating back to the founding of the Ottawa-Carleton Ultimate Association in 1986.[18] Ottawa has hosted the Canadian Ultimate Championships six times, most recently in 2017.

Events hosted

Current sports teams

Club Sport League Venue Established Championships
Ottawa Senators ice hockey National Hockey League Canadian Tire Centre,
Ottawa Civic Centre
0 (Stanley Cups)
1 (President's Trophy)
1 (Prince of Wales Trophy)
Ottawa Redblacks Canadian football Canadian Football League TD Place Stadium 2014–present 1 (Grey Cup)
Ottawa Champions Baseball Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park 2015–present 1
Ottawa Gee-Gees Various U Sports University of Ottawa 1848–present 2 (Vanier Cups)
Carleton Ravens Various U Sports Carleton University 1942–present 13 (W. P. McGee Trophies)
Ottawa 67's ice hockey Ontario Hockey League TD Place Arena 1967–present 3 (OHL)
2 (Memorial Cups)
Ottawa Lady Senators (PWHL) ice hockey Canadian Women's Hockey League Sandy Hill Arena/Bell Sensplex 2007–present 0
Ottawa Fury FC soccer North American Soccer League TD Place Stadium 2014–present 0
Ottawa Swans Australian football Ontario Australian Football League Rideau Carleton Raceway 2007–present 0
Ottawa Sooners Canadian football Canadian Junior Football League (1960–1995, 2009–present)
Quebec Junior Football League (1996–2008)
Keith Harris Stadium 1960–present 5 CJFL Championships
3 QJFL Championships
Ottawa Junior Riders Canadian football Quebec Junior Football League (1995–2000, 2006–Present)
Canadian Junior Football League (2001–2005)
Nepean Sportsplex 1995–present 6 QJFL Championships
Cumberland Panthers Canadian football Quebec Junior Football League Millennium Sports Park 2004–present 0

Past sports teams

Club Sport League Venue Established Championships
Ottawa Senators ice hockey NHL (and other leagues) Ottawa Auditorium,
The Arena,
Dey's Arena,
Rideau Rink
1884–1934 11 (Stanley Cups)
1 (Prince of Wales Trophy)
3 (Allan Cups)
Ottawa Renegades Canadian football Canadian Football League Frank Clair Stadium 2002–2005 0
Ottawa Rough Riders Canadian football Canadian Football League Frank Clair Stadium 1876–1996 9 (Grey Cups)
Ottawa Lynx Baseball International League (AAA) Lynx Stadium 1993–2007 1
Ottawa Giants Baseball International League (AAA) Lansdowne Park 1951 0
Ottawa Athletics Baseball International League (AAA) Lansdowne Park 1952–1955 0
Ottawa Senators/Braves Baseball Canadian–American League (Class C) Lansdowne Park 1936–1940 0
Ottawa Nationals/Senators Baseball Border League (Class C) Lansdowne Park 1947–1950 3
Ottawa Rapidz Baseball Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball Ottawa Baseball Stadium 2008–2009 0
Ottawa Fat Cats Baseball Intercounty Baseball League Ottawa Baseball Stadium 2010–2012 0
Ottawa-Hull Junior Canadiens ice hockey (non-league) Ottawa Auditorium 1956–1959 Memorial Cup (1957)
Ottawa Raiders ice hockey National Women's Hockey League Sandy Hill Arena 1999–2007 0
Ottawa Loggers roller hockey Roller Hockey International Ottawa Civic Centre 1997–1999 n/a
Ottawa Fury (2005–13) soccer Premier Development League Keith Harris Stadium and Algonquin College Soccer Complex 2005–2013 0
Ottawa Fury Women soccer W-League Keith Harris Stadium and Algonquin College Soccer Complex 2003–2014 1
Ottawa Harlequins Rugby union Rugby Canada Super League Twin Elm Rugby Park 1999–2010 0
Ottawa Rebel indoor lacrosse National Lacrosse League Scotiabank Place 2001–2003 0


Ottawa has a hall of fame honouring local athletes. There are also the "Ottawa Sports Awards" awarded annually to the top athletes in the city.

Ottawa Athlete of the Year
2016Vincent De Haitre (speed skating)Rachel Homan (curling)
2016Vincent De Haitre (speed skating / cycling)Erica Wiebe (wrestling)
2015Dustin Cook (alpine skiing)Melissa Bishop (athletics)
2014Vincent De Haitre (speed skating / cycling)Ivanie Blondin (speed skating)
2013Phillip Scrubb (basketball)Rachel Homan (curling)
2012Craig Savill (curling)Courtnay Pilypaitis (basketball)
2011Tyson Hinz (basketball)Kate Goodfellow (rowing)
2010Brad Sinopoli (Canadian football)Kristina Groves (speed skating)
2009Ian Mortimer (canoe/kayak)Kristina Groves (speed skating)
2008Angus Mortimer & Rhys Hill (canoe/kayak)Kristina Groves (speed skating)
2007Craig Savill (curling)Kristina Groves (speed skating)
2006Osvaldo Jeanty (basketball)Kristina Groves (speed skating)
2005Jeff Bean (freestyle skiing)Elizabeth Urbach (rowing)
2004Jason Dunkerley (Paralympic athletics)Kristina Groves (speed skating)
2003Corey Locke (ice hockey)Melanie Banville (gymnastics)
2002 Jeff Bean (freestyle skiing)
2001 Seamus Kotyk (ice hockey)
2000 Phil Cote (Canadian football)
1999 Brian Campbell (ice hockey)
1998 John Morris (curling)
1997 Alyn McCauley (ice hockey)
1996 Glenroy Gilbert (Athletics)
1995 Harry Van Hofwegen (Canadian football)
1994 Linda Jackson & Gord Fraser (cycling)
1993 Al Charron (rugby union)
1992 Jeff Koradi (Canadian football)
1991 Renn Crichlow (canoe/kayak)
1990 Chris Flynn (Canadian football)
1989 Chris Simboli (freestyle skiing)
1988 Elizabeth Manley (figure skating)
1987 Ian Millar (Equestrian)
1986 Anna Fraser (freestyle skiing)
1985 Caroll-Ann Alie (board sailing)
1984 Linda Thom (shooting)
1983 Kathy Bald (swimming)
1982 Horst Bulau (ski jumping)
1981 Horst Bulau (ski jumping)
1980 Greg Olson (golf)
1979 Pat Messner (water skiing)
1978 Bobby Smith (ice hockey)
1977 Doug Wilson (ice hockey)
1976 Martin Wostenholme (tennis)
1975 Neil Lumsden (Canadian football)
1974 Lynn Nightingale (figure skating)
1973 Sue Holloway (canoe/kayak)
1972 Glenda Reiser (athletics)
1971 Michel Larocque (ice hockey)
1970 Linda Malcolm (shooting)
1969 Betsy Clifford (alpine skiing)
1968 Don Rioux (golf)
1967 Pat Morris (ski jumping)
1966 Tom Gorman (basketball)
1965 Judy Dallimore (athletics)
1964 Andre Nezan (golf)
1963 Bob Stinson (golf)
1962 Allan Salter (weightlifting)
1961 Dave Dorman (athletics)
1960 Anne Heggtveit (alpine skiing)
1959 Barney Hartmann (shooting)
1958 Anne Heggtveit (apline skiing)
1957 Mariette Laframboise (tennis)
1956 John Clifford (alpine skiing)
1955 Art Tommy (alpine skiing)
1954 Anne Heggtveit (alpine skiing)
1953 Shirley Thomas (equestrian)


  1. "History". Ottawa Redblacks. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  2. "CFL will return to Ottawa". Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  3. Johnson, Julia. "Carleton football veteran celebrates team's revival". Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  4. "Exhibits browse - Archives & Research Collections". Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  5. Ottawa Times, 6 June 1867.
  6. A History of American Amateur Athletics and Aquatics, 1888.
  7. Ottawa Daily Citizen, 20 October 1887.
  8. Greene, Trevor. 1988. Glory days. Ottawa Magazine, pp: 13–14.
  9. Ottawa Citizen. 13 November 1918.
  10. Greene, Trevor. 1988. Glory days. Ottawa Magazine, pp: 13–14.
  11. Archives of the University of Ottawa
  12. Information gathered from Wes Curran, umpire and rower at the Ottawa Rowing Club. July 2017.
  13. Ottawa Citizen Newspaper. 24 July 1986.
  14. "Carleton hosts Ottawa in 5th Capital Hoops Classic". U Sports. January 26, 2011. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  15. "Pro Basketball Comes To Ottawa, NBL Canada expansion team awarded for 2013-14 season". Archived from the original on 2013-11-03. Retrieved 2013-10-09.
  16. Campbell, Don (December 21, 2012). "Fat Cats won't play in 2013". Ottawa Citizen. Archived from the original on January 11, 2013. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  17. Warren, Ken. "Pro baseball returns to the plate in Ottawa". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  18. "ultimate test playoffs pro team on horizon for growing sport". Retrieved March 15, 2016.
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