Ultimate Frisbee History in Canada

 

“The strongest among the weak is the one that doesn’t forget their weakness”

Ultimate Disc History in Canada

In the 1960s and 1970s, there were pockets of Frisbee play happening in cities and towns across the U.S. and Canada. The people and their contributions recorded here shared a common history in the early days of ultimate disc sport in Canada.

Toronto, Ontario.

Ultimate made its first international appearance at the 1975 Canadian Open Frisbee Championships in Toronto. This was the beginning of introducing ultimate Frisbee to Canadians in the way of demonstrations added to the other tournament events. Canadian Open tournament co-director Ken Westerfield would organize and play in these early demonstrations with some of the ultimate founders (Johnny Appleseeds) from Columbia High School in New Jersey and other disc athletes who were there to compete in the events at the Canadian Open competition. Westerfield also played ultimate while competing in the mid-1970s in the U.S. and touring team league ultimate in Northern California’s NCUFL (1977-78). In 1979, retiring from competing in U.S. freestyle, disc golf, ultimate and over-all NAS competitions, Westerfield continued to organize Frisbee show tours and disc competitions in Canada. Because of Ken’s love of ultimate, began organizing ultimate Frisbee events in Toronto. In 1979, Westerfield with the help of Irwin Toy’s CFA director Bob Blakely and Chris Lowcock started recruiting players for the Toronto Ultimate League (Club) (TUC).

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Poster advertising for players, TUC 1979.

Westerfield started weekly ultimate pick-up games on Kew Beach with beach freestylers Patrick Chartrand, Stuart Godfrey and Jim Lim. Ken, using his player competitor contact list, sent team participation invitations for the beginning of the Toronto Ultimate League to Wards Island, West Toronto, North Toronto and his own team Beaches. These were the first four teams with each team taking turns hosting Wednesdays weekly league game nights at their home locations. The league starting night was at Kew Beach. After almost ten years of early Canadian Frisbee programs and popular multi-event competitions on Toronto Islands, Toronto was more than ready for an ultimate league. The next year there were six teams and the next year ten. The league grew substantially from that period. Westerfield, using Bob Blakely’s office copy machine and mailing facility at Irwin Toy, would produce a weekly newsletter highlighting the games and scores for each team as well as the league standings through the playing season.tuc The Toronto Ultimate League continued to develop and was renamed the Toronto Ultimate Club (TUC), that now has 3300 active members and over 250 teams playing the year-round. This was the first ultimate league in Canada and now one of the world’s oldest.

The Toronto Ultimate Club became a founding partner for the Toronto Rush, the first Canadian professional ultimate team in the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL). The success and impact of the Toronto Ultimate Club (TUC), as a premier organization for ultimate in Canada since 1979, was never more evident in Canada and the U.S. than when in 2013 TUC players made up a team called the Toronto Rush and joined the AUDL. Up until then, all the AUDL teams were American with U.S. players. Toronto Rush, with Canadian players, won every game in their first season, including the AUDL Championships and is the winningness team in AUDL professional ultimate history.

Ken Westerfield and Chris Lowcock were inducted into the inaugural class of both the 2010 Toronto Ultimate Club Hall of Fame and the Ultimate Canada Hall of Fame.

Note: This information is from Ultimate Canada Hall of Fame and TUC.

Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia.

From 1971 to 1977, Ken Westerfield and Jim Kenner were sponsored by Irwin Toy, (Wham-O licensee for manufacturing Frisbee’s in Canada) to tour as Frisbee professionals across Canada to promote Frisbee play and disc sports. Each year their tour would end in Vancouver where they would spend the rest of their summer freestyling on Kitsilano Beach and performing Frisbee shows nightly on the streets of historic Gastown. In 1974-76, Kenner and Westerfield presented early disc sports competitions on Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver.vancouver-open-frisbee-championships-1974 (4) In 1977, Ken and Jim hosted a Wham-O/ Irwin sponsored NAS tournament that brought all the best disc throwers in the world to Stanley Park in Vancouver.

Scott Lewis started the first organized disc sports in BC, inventing his own game called Frisbee Football and organizing several dozen people to play it regularly from 1974-1976 at Willows Beach in Victoria. He then became involved in running overall tournaments and creating disc golf courses in Victoria, culminating in 1982 when he founded the University of Victoria Disc Sports Club. After being exposed to the sport while competing in overall tournaments in California, Scott started the first ultimate team in BC, the Flying Islanders. 1982 saw the beginning of regular weekly pickup games at Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver. In 1984 the Flying Islanders made the first road trip in BC history, traveling to Seattle to compete in a tournament.  On the weekend of June 29-30, 1985 was the first ultimate tournament in western Canada, held at Jericho Beach. It featured two Vancouver teams plus one each from Victoria and Calgary. The Vancouver Ultimate League was founded in September 1986. The first meeting was attended by Carlo Giuliano, Myrna Monck, Darryl Grigg, Jennifer Newman, Jo Playfair, Adam Berson, Doug Grant, Jim Brown and Julia Daley.insync_physio_the_vancouver_ultimate_league_01 (2) These people gathered to organize a league, ironically, because they didn’t have a reliable turn-out for their pick-up games. The solution was to divide themselves into 3 teams and appoint 3 captains. It was those captains that did the hard work of team recruitment and getting the league started.  They took on the responsibility to get a team on the field for each scheduled game. Darryl was captain of the Fringe, Adam was captain of the Nerf Terf Burners, and Jo Playfair was captain of the Flaming Red Sallies. They were the people that really got the league started. Adam “Elvis” Berson, Jim Brown and Scott Lewis are members of the Ultimate Canada Hall of fame.

Note: This information is from Ultimate Canada Hall of Fame and VUL.

Ottawa, Ontario.

Marcus Brady and Brian Guthrie are the founders of the  Ottawa summer league (1986), Ottawa competitive ultimate and the No Borders tournament.b786a030-28f6-11e9-a81c-6198041e0b01-rimg-w598-h280-gmir (2) After Marcus played around with discs at Glebe Collegiate, he went on to start an intramural Ultimate program at McGill University. He returned to Ottawa and played pickup before starting the Ottawa Carleton Ultimate League Thing (OCULT) with Brian Guthrie and members of five teams. Brian started playing the game in the mid to late 1970s in Kingston and Toronto. In 1984 he began to play pickup in Riverside Park, befriending Marcus. In 1986, the two went on to organize the first Ottawa summer league of five teams, with the first captain’s meeting being held in Brian’s living room. Marcus was the tournament director for the first annual Canadian Ultimate Championships, held in Ottawa at St Paul’s University in 1987. Marcus Brady and Brian Guthrie were inducted into the Ultimate Canada Hall of Fame.

Note: This information is from OCUA.

Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Jean Luc Forest and Mike Jones were the co-founders of Manitoba Organization of Disc Sports. MODS became the first Canadian Ultimate Organization to incorporate in Feb of 1988.mods MODS was also the first to achieve Provincials Sports Organization status. Jean-Luc shared his passion of disc sports with his communities, and during the time of his individual accomplishments, he was first introduced to Ultimate in Toronto in the early 80s. In the Summer of 1987, Jean-Luc and Mike Jones organized a Winnipeg team to attend the first Canadian Ultimate Championships in Ottawa. Knowing this was an invaluable opportunity to bring crucial national tournament exposure to a core of Winnipeg players, and in turn strengthen the disc sports community in Winnipeg, they built a team. The stage was set for Mike,  Jean-Luc and his brother Pierre’s longstanding vision of galvanizing a disc sports community in Winnipeg. By the Fall of 1987, Jean-Luc and Mike were determined to create an organization that would support the future of Disc Sports in Manitoba. That Winter Jean-Luc and Mike were the principal architects behind the drafting of the constitution which established the Manitoba Organization of Disc Sports. MODS’ Winnipeg Ultimate League began as a league of four teams at Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg. These early years of the Winnipeg Ultimate League set in motion a series of tremendous accomplishments and growth.

Note: This information is from MODS. 

London, Ontario.

Discraft, founded in the late 1970s by Jim Kenner and Gail McColl in London, Ontario, later moved the company from Canada to its present location in Wixom, Michigan. Discraft introduced flying discs for every disc sport including the Ultra-star 175 gram disc in 1981, with an updated mold in 1983. This disc was adopted as the standard for ultimate during the 1980s. In 1991 the Ultra-star was specified as the official disc for UPA tournament play and today is the preferred disc for ultimate players worldwide. In 2011, the Discraft Ultra-star and Jim Kenner were inducted into the USA Ultimate Hall of Fame for Special Merit.

 The first Canadian Ultimate Championships (CUC) were held, for the open division, in Ottawa 1987. OCUA subsequently hosted 1993, 1999, 2002 and 2011 Canadian Ultimate Championships.

Players from Darkside and Cynics

Toronto Darkside and Calgary Cynics as one ultimate team competing for Canada, the 1980s

In 1987, team Darkside of Toronto won Canada’s first national ultimate championships in a close final against the Calgary Cynics. The Cynics would come back to win against Darkside in the 1988 Canadian Ultimate Championships (CUC).

Ultimate Canada founded in 1993, serves as the governing body of the sport of Ultimate in Canada. It runs the Canadian Ultimate Championships (CUC) and Canadian University Ultimate Championship (CUUC) series.

Elite Canadian Teams

Furious George, based in Vancouver, British Columbia and Goat from Toronto, Ontario are two of the best ultimate teams to ever come out of Canada. See Jane Run in Toronto, 1987, was Canada’s first Women’s touring team and dominated national championships for many years. Furious George formed in 1995, were the open champions at 2002, 2003 and 2005 UPA Club Championships. They have also won ten Canadian Ultimate Championships: in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Furious won gold for Canada in 1998, 2004 and 2008 at the WFDF World Ultimate Championships, as well as comprising half of the gold medal co-ed Canadian National Team at the 2001 World Games in Akita, Japan. In 2011, Furious George was inducted into the Canadian Ultimate Hall of Fame. Canada has been ranked number one in the Ultimate World Rankings several times since 1998 in all the Ultimate Divisions (including Open and Women’s) according to the World Flying Disc Federation.

American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL)

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Canadian Mark Lloyd, is considered to be one of the best defensive poachers and ultimate players ever.

In 2013, as a founding partner, the Toronto Ultimate Club presented Canada’s first semi-professional ultimate team, the Toronto Rush, to the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL). They went undefeated 18-0 for the season and won the AUDL Championships. In 2014, the Montreal Royal join the league and in 2015, AUDL added the Ottawa Outlaws.

Ultimate has become one of today’s fastest growing sports. In 2015, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) granted full recognition to the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) for flying disc sports, including ultimate.

Timeline of National Ultimate Developments in Canada.

1972-1985 –  Canadian Open Frisbee Championships, Toronto and (1974-1977) Vancouver Open Frisbee Championships. introduced Frisbee and the beginning of competitive modern disc sports.
1975 –  Ultimate is played for the first time at the Canadian Open Frisbee Championships on Toronto Islands.
1979 –  Toronto Ultimate League started.
1986 –  Vancouver and Ottawa Ultimate Leagues started.
1987 –  First Canadian Ultimate Championships, Ottawa. Open division -Toronto wins.
1987 –  Winnipeg Ultimate League.
1988 –  Manitoba Organization of Disc Sports (MODS), first Provincial Sports Organization founded.
1989 –  Women’s Division added to Ultimate Nationals.
1991 –  WFDF World Ultimate Club Championships in Toronto.
1993 –  Canadian Ultimate Players Association begins.
1994 –  Juniors Division added to Ultimate Nationals.
1995 –  Masters Division added to Ultimate Nationals. First Annual University National Championships – open & women’s divisions.
1997 –   WFDF World Ultimate Club Championships in Vancouver
1998 –  Team Canada Masters wins first Gold Medal for Canada at Worlds (WUGC) – quickly followed by Gold in Mixed and Open. Since 1998, Canada has been ranked number one in the World, several years in all divisions, by WFDF World Ultimate Ranking.
1999 –  Mixed Division added to Canadian Ultimate Championships.
2002 –  First Canadian team to win USAU (UPA) Championship: Furious George (Vancouver).
2008 –  WFDF World Ultimate & Guts Championships in Vancouver.
2010 –  Canadian Ultimate Players Association changes its name to Ultimate Canada.
2011 –  Ultimate Canada Hall of Fame is created to honor pioneers and players.
2012 –  Junior Division at CUC splits from Mixed into Junior Open and Junior Women’s Divisions.
2013 –  The Junior Open and Junior Women’s divisions at CUC split away from the adult events competition turning CUC into a 7-day tournament.
2013 –  As a founding partner, the Toronto Ultimate Club presented Canada’s first semi-professional Ultimate team, the Toronto Rush, to the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL). Montreal Royal (2014), Ottawa Outlaws (2015).
2015 –  WFDF World Ultimate Rankings by country. Canada is ranked number 2 out of 44 countries. Several years in the 1990s, Canada was ranked number one in the world in all divisions.
2015 –  The International Olympic Committee (IOC) granted full recognition to the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF), (of which Ultimate Canada is a member) for flying disc sports including ultimate.

Ultimate Canada Hall of Fame

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See Jane Run, Toronto women’s team dominated national championships in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Ultimate Canada Hall of Fame (2012

2011 –  Adam “Elvis” Berson | Grant Burns | Jen Catalano | Anja Haman
Steev Limin | Al “Al-Bob” Nichols | Gillian Scarfe | Lorne Beckman | Brian Gisel
John Harris | Scott Lewis | Chris Lowcock | Ken Westerfield | Dean Wright
Marcus Brady | Brian Guthrie | Keith Whyte
2012 –  Dante Anderson | Andrew Lugsdin
2013 –  Leslie Calder | Jim Brown
2014 –  Alex Hughes | Monica Kerr-Coster | Jeff Malmgren
2016 –  Cheryl Claibourne | Donnie McPhee
2017 –  Jeff Cruickshank | Kirk Savage
2018 – Evan Wood

UCHOF Team Category: Furious George (2011) GOO/Prime (2011) See Jane Run (2012) Nomads (2013) Chaos (2014) The Calgary Cynics (2016) Masters of Flying Objects (2017)

Resources:
Directory of Ultimate Frisbee Clubs across Canada.

Ultimate Players Organizations and media sources:
Ultimate Canada | USA Ultimate | WFDF | FrisbeeGuru | Ultimate Rob | Ultiworld

Next Articles:

Disc Golf History in the U.S. and Canada
Freestyle Frisbee History
Guts Frisbee History
History of Disc Sports in Canada
History of Ultimate Frisbee
Home page:  The History of Frisbee and Disc Sports

Note: This information was referenced and time-lined from disc sport historical and biographical articles including U.S. and Canadian Disc Sports Hall of Fame inductions, Disc Sports Player Federations and other historical resources. This article was researched, written and compiled by Frisbee and disc sports historians. The history in this document may change as events and people are added. Linking or reproduction in whole or part with proper accrediting is permitted. For more information contact: ifafw@hotmail.com 

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