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Australian rules football in Canadamarker is a fast growing team and spectator sport which has been played since the late 1980s.

Australian football is currently played in four Canadian provinces - Ontariomarker, Albertamarker, Quebecmarker and British Columbiamarker. The Ontario league, centred around Torontomarker but also including sides from cities as far afield as Guelphmarker, Hamiltonmarker, Ottawamarker and Montrealmarker, is considered the largest outside of Australia. In western Canada, there are clubs in Edmontonmarker, Calgarymarker and a six-team league in the Vancouvermarker area.

There is also a number of junior and women's clubs across Canada.

History of Australian Football in Canada

Between 1987 and 1989, the Australian Football League staged several exhibition matches in Canada, attracting large crowds and much interest. The 1987 game holds the record for a VFL/AFL match held outside of Australia.

Year Location Stadium Teams Crowds
1987 Vancouver Melbourne v. Nth Melbourne 7,980
1987 Vancouver B.C.marker Placemarker Melbourne v. Sydney 32,789
1987 Vancouver Collingwood v. Hawthorn
1988 Toronto Varsity Stadiummarker Collingwood v. Hawthorn 18,500
1989 Toronto Toronto Skydome Essendon v. Hawthorn 24,639

In the late 1980s, regional ESPN broadcasts in Canada showed highlights of the Victorian Football League from Australia.

The First League

The Canadian Australian Football League was established in May 1989 when two clubs the Mississauga Mustangs and the Toronto Panthers were formed and played in the inaugural Conacher Cup game in Toronto, Ontario. Since then, the game of Australian football in Canada has expanded considerably nationwide.

In 1990, the Scarborough Rebels, the North York Hawks and the Hamilton Wildcats joined, with the Balmy Beach Saints coming on board in 1992. The North York Hawks later relocated and became known as the Broadview Hawks.

The Brampton Wolverines, the league's seventh team, were formed in 1993. The Scarborough Rebels relocated and became the Lawrence Park Rebels.

Early International Competition

In 1993, Canadian representative team, known as the Northwind, beat a British (BARFL) representative team.

In 1994 and 1995, the Canadians again defeated the British at home.

In 1995, several local CAFA games were broadcast on a Hamiltonmarker cable TV channel.

In July 1995, the Hamilton Wildcats played a Canadian All-Star team in front of 21,000 fans during the half-time break at a Canadian Football League (gridiron) match.

In 1999, the first USA v Canada game was played 49th Parallel Cup (named after the 49th parallel north). The Revolution narrowly defeated Team Canada (Northwind). Later matches enforced strict rules based on player origins.

In 2002, Canada participated in the inuagural Australian Football International Cup, Canada represented by the Northwind team consisting purely of Canadian born players.

The Game Gets Grassroots

Northwind's All-International ruckman Manny Matata kicking a drop punt
In 2003, the first ever junior league in Canada, the North Delta Junior Australian Football League was formed.

AFL Canada was formed as governing body on July 30, 2004 when the Canadian Australian Football League changed its official name. The move corresponded with funding from the Australian Football League, and junior participation program was put in place. The clubs were split into 2 regional based leagues, the Ontario Australian Football League and the North West Pacific Football League. The remaining Albertamarker based clubs participate in AFL Canada organised regional conferences such as the British Columbia Cup.

In 2005 the Northwind participated in the 2005 International Cup.

In early 2006, AFL Canada sent a small delegate to the AFL exhibition match in Los Angelesmarker. London and Windsor folded due to distance but the new OAFL club the Central Blues formed and began competing. In Alberta, the Calgary Bears also formed and the Westcoast challenge commenced.

In early 2007, the Ottawa Swans formed, and affiliated with the OAFL, and the Demons relocated from Mississauga to High Parkmarker in inner Toronto.

In late 2007, AFL Canada hosted the Ironbark challenge, including the 49th Parallel Cup between Canadamarker vs United Statesmarker including historic first women's and junior (under 17) tests between the two countries. Canada defeated the United States for the first time at both senior and junior level, but were soundly defeated in the women's match. The tournament also included a touring Japanese team and attracted a record attendance of 2,500 at Thunderbird Stadiummarker in Vancouvermarker.

Canada Emerges as a Footy Force

In early 2008, Canadian junior Scott Fleming moved to Australia to play with the Broadbeach Cats semi-professional club in the AFL Queensland State League at 17 years of age.

Later the same year, former Canadian rugby union international Mike Pyke was signed by the Sydney Swans AFL team as an international rookie at 24 years of age.

Governing Body

The governing body for Aussie Rules in Canada is AFL Canada.

National Team

Team Canada is known as the Northwind.


In 2006, there were over 420 senior (approximately 250 Canadian national) Australian rules football players in Canada out of a total of 484, an increase of 25% from 2005.

By the end of 2007, this figure had increased to a total of 825 players in organised competitions, of which 525 were senior and 300 were junior, an increase of over 70% from 2006, and a total of 95% increase over 2 years.

Women's Football

Canada boasts one senior women's league in Alberta and 5 women's football clubs nationwide. Youth girls development programs operate in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. The national team, formed in 2007, is known as the "Northern Lights". They were formerly known as the "Eagles". They played in the first women's international footy matches during 2007, when they lost twice to the USA Freedom.

Leagues & Clubs


Alberta Footy Men's League

Club City Province founded Official Website
Calgary Kangaroos Calgarymarker Albertamarker 2005 Official Site
Calgary Bears Calgarymarker Albertamarker 2007 Official Site
Red Deer Magpies Red Deermarker Albertamarker 2004

Alberta Footy Women's League

Club City Province founded Official Website
Calgary Kookaburras Calgarymarker Albertamarker 2007 Official Site
Edmonton Emus Edmontonmarker Albertamarker 2009 Official Site
Hillhurst Nighthawks Calgarymarker Albertamarker 2008 Official Site
Kensington Kingfishers Calgarymarker Albertamarker 2008 Official Site

British Columbia

North West Pacific Football League

Club City Province founded Official Website
Burnaby Eagles Burnabymarker British Columbiamarker 2001 Official Site
Delta BayHawks North Delta British Columbiamarker 2009 Official Site
Vancouver Cougars Vancouvermarker British Columbiamarker 2001 Official Site
Victoria Lions Victoriamarker British Columbiamarker 2004 Official Site
West Coast Saints Vancouvermarker British Columbiamarker 2008 Official Site

North Delta Junior Australian Football League

Club City Province founded Official Website
North Delta Junior Australian Football League North Delta British Columbiamarker 2003 Official Site


Ontario Australian Football League

Club City Province founded Official Website
Broadview Hawks Broadview Ontariomarker 1989 Official Site
Ottawa Swans Ottawamarker Ontariomarker 2007 Official Site
Etobicoke Kangaroos Etobicokemarker Ontariomarker 2003 Official Site
Guelph Gargoyles Guelphmarker Ontariomarker 2001 Official Site
Hamilton Wildcats Hamiltonmarker Ontariomarker 1997 Official Site
High Park Demons Torontomarker Ontariomarker 1989 Official Site
Toronto Downtown Dingos Torontomarker Ontariomarker 1996 Official Site
Toronto Eagles Torontomarker Ontariomarker 1989 Official Site
Toronto Rebels Torontomarker Ontariomarker 1990 Official Site
Central Blues Torontomarker Ontariomarker 2006 Official Site


Club City Province founded Official Website
Quebec Saints Montrealmarker Quebecmarker 2008 Official Site

Major Tournaments





Since 2006, due to growing demand and lobbying by the AFANA, Aussie Rules began playing live matches on television in Canada.

Attendance Records

Exhibition Matches

Canada holds the world record for attendance at a match outside of Australia.

International Tests


  1. IAFC
  2. Northwind blows over Revos from
  3. Swans sign 24-year-old Canadian rugby player from
  4. [1]
  5. World Footy News - World Footy Census 2004 - North America
  6. AFL International Census 2007
  1. AFL Canada
  2. AFANA

External links

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