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 on Saturday, January 6, 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. However, the junior Ontario Rugby Football Union which was formed in 1890 lasted until the 1970 season.

Notable teams


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

Most championships

Imperial Oil Trophy

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

See also


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