Your Sporty Ancestors

Have you noticed that not too many family historians write about their sporty ancestors?

Personally I have dabbled in a lot of sports: playing for work baseball teams, waterskiing with my family, downhill skiing, biking, hiking, birding, canoeing…the list goes on. I think any photo or story about our loved ones playing or watching sports is a goldmine. These activities bring our family history to life because these are the good times in our lives and too often we need to focus on stuffy census documents or spend hours at a microfilm reader for rare glimpses.

My brother Eric holding a wooden canoe paddle while my other brother Jim is in the canoe. Dog Lake, Thunder Bay District, Ontario, Canada, circa 1970.

Part of the problem for early ancestors is that there are possibly no records. However, some newspapers both modern and historic are coming online and we have greater access than before to search for clubs and societies to which they belonged. Perhaps you will even find a rare photo or two!

My father Bill Jashewski (back row, second from right), Fort William Rowing Club, Regina Beach Regatta. The Leader-Post. Sat, Jul 30, 1949.

There is a photo I’ve seen, for example, taken of people in canoes out front of The Oakville Club with a huge crowd of onlookers from the dock, dated 1908, one year after the club was founded. I might be able to find this photo at the Oakville Historical Society and perhaps learn more about the club’s founders. There are also city, provincial and society archives to search for photos and documents, too.

Please send me photos of you or your relatives playing sports (or watching your favourite teams) perhaps from this upcoming long weekend. I’d love to see them! (I’ve enabled comments, below.)

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