The origins of the game of basketball are far less contested than those of some other sports, notably baseball and hockey. James A. Naismith, a Canadian farm boy from Almonte, Ontario was a student at the YMCA's International Training School in Massachusetts (later to be called Springfield College) in 1890. In 1891 he was asked to join the faculty as the director of the physical education department.
First organized basketball team, YMCA Training School
He began searching for a game that could be played indoors during cold or inclement weather. This led to his invention of basketball. Initial games were played according to 13 rules which Dr. Naismith developed. Squads of nine players shot soccer balls into peach baskets hung on 10-foot balconies at each end of the YMCA's gym. The game had instant appeal and spread rapidly across North America. As interest grew in basketball as a sport, the game was refined and the rules developed into the game we recognize today.
St. Stephen has a long and impressive history with the sport of basketball. One of the students at the YMCA's International Training School was Lyman Archibald. Born on July 3, 1868 in Old Barns, Nova Scotia, Lyman was a member of the first basketball team coached by Dr. Naismith.
St. Stephen's YMCA building
Upon his graduation in the spring of 1892, Archibald was assigned to the YMCA in the border town as their secretary and physical director.
Interior plan of the YMCA rooms in St. Stephen, NB
That autumn, one of the first things he did was teach the new game, thus securing St. Stephen's place in sports history as home to, arguably, the first basketball game ever played in Canada. As an alternative to calisthenics and marching exercises, basketball was immediately popular as an indoor winter sport. Later in the season he extended the game to Calais and Milltown and a league soon formed.
While Lyman left St. Stephen in 1893, basketball continued to flourish and, within a few years, teams had formed all over the province.
The inventor of basketball shows M. Morewitz and G. Endicott the fine points of the centre jump
Unlike many sports, basketball welcomed women to the game almost from its beginning.
Women playing basketball
The Saint Croix Courier of November 20, 1902 reported that both men and women were playing basketball and clubs had organized, with lists of the members being published. One of the first of St. Stephen's hometown basketball heroes was a woman: Dorothy Norwood Brockway.