Ontario Rugby Football Union

The Ontario Rugby Football Union (ORFU) was an early amateur Canadian football league. As its name implies, it comprised teams in the Canadian province of Ontario. The ORFU was founded in 1883 and in 1903 became the first major competition to adopt the Burnside rules, from which the modern Canadian football code would evolve.


For most of the first half of the 20th century, the ORFU was one of the stronger unions in Canada, and its champion was a frequent fixture in the Grey Cup even as the game became increasingly professionalized in the 1930s.

During World War II, the Ontario-based military teams played in the ORFU, filling the gap during the suspension of play by the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union. (Toronto Navy – H.M.C.S. York played out of Varsity Stadium, using the Toronto Argonauts' equipment and uniforms.) The Toronto RCAF Hurricanes were the last amateur team to win the Grey Cup in 1942. Many from the ranks of the military teams in the ORFU became stars in the CFL after the war.

With the return of peace, however, the ORFU found it increasingly difficult to compete in an environment dominated by the IRFU and the Western Interprovincial Football Union, which had both become fully professional. Indeed, by then it was the only fully amateur union still challenging for the Grey Cup. Even so, it retained enough prestige that it played the WIFU champion for a berth in the Grey Cup final. The IRFU was reluctant to accept the WIFU as a full equal even after it was clear that its quality of play had become the equal of the IRFU.

The ORFU withdrew from Grey Cup competition in 1954. Although the amateurs would not be formally locked out of Grey Cup play for another four years, this heralded the start of the modern era of Canadian football. The ORFU ceased to operate as a true senior league after 1960, but continued play at the intermediate level. Eventually the word "senior" came to replace the word "intermediate." By 1974, the ORFU had ceased to exist.

Notable teams


Year Champion
1883 Toronto Football Club
1884 Toronto Football Club
1885 Ottawa College Football Club
1886 Ottawa College Football Club
1887 Ottawa College Football Club
1888 Ottawa College Football Club
1889 Ottawa College Football Club
1890 Hamilton Tigers
1891 Osgoode Hall
1892 Osgoode Hall
1893 Queen's University
1894 Queen's University
1895 University of Toronto Varsity Football Club
1896 University of Toronto Varsity Football Club
1897 Hamilton Tigers
1898 Ottawa Rough Riders
1899 Kingston Granites
1900 Ottawa Rough Riders
1901 Toronto Argonauts
1902 Ottawa Rough Riders
1903 Hamilton Tigers
1904 Hamilton Tigers
1905 Hamilton Tigers
1906 Hamilton Tigers
1907 Peterborough Quakers
1908 Toronto Amateur Athletic Club
1909 Toronto Parkdale Canoe Club
1910 Toronto Amateur Athletic Club
1911 Hamilton Alerts
1912 Hamilton Alerts (Grey Cup champions)
1913 Toronto Parkdale Canoe Club
1914 Hamilton Rowing Club
1915 Toronto Rugby and Athletic Association
1916 No season: World War I
1917 No season: World War I
1918 No season: World War I
1919 Toronto Rugby and Athletic Association
1920 Toronto Rugby and Athletic Association
1921 Toronto Parkdale Canoe Club
1922 Toronto Parkdale Canoe Club
1923 Hamilton Rowing Club
1924 Toronto Balmy Beach
1925 Toronto Balmy Beach
1926 Toronto Balmy Beach
1927 Toronto Balmy Beach (Grey Cup champions)
1928 University of Toronto Seconds
1929 Sarnia Imperials
1930 Toronto Balmy Beach (Grey Cup champions)
1931 Sarnia Imperials
1932 Sarnia Imperials
1933 Sarnia Imperials
1934 Sarnia Imperials (Grey Cup champions)
1935 Sarnia Imperials
1936 Sarnia Imperials (Grey Cup champions)
1937 Sarnia Imperials
1938 Sarnia Imperials
1939 Sarnia Imperials
1940 Toronto Balmy Beach
1941 Hamilton Flying Wildcats
1942 Toronto RCAF Hurricanes (Grey Cup champions)
1943 Hamilton Flying Wildcats (Grey Cup champions)
1944 Hamilton Flying Wildcats
1945 Toronto Balmy Beach
1946 Toronto Balmy Beach
1947 Ottawa Trojans
1948 Hamilton Tigers
1949 Hamilton Tigers
1950 Toronto Balmy Beach
1951 Sarnia Imperials
1952 Sarnia Imperials
1953 Toronto Balmy Beach
1954 Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen
1955 Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen
1956 Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen
1957 Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen
1958 Sarnia Golden Bears
1959 Sarnia Golden Bears
1960 London Lords

Most championships

Imperial Oil Trophy

The Imperial Oil Trophy was awarded to the league's most valuable player.

See also


This page was last updated at 2019-11-14 16:54 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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