Sports Organization, Amateur

The earliest athletic body organized to administer sport was the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (MAAA). Formed in 1881, it comprised clubs for lacrosse, swimming and bicycling. The first national organization was the Amateur Athletic Association of Canada, founded in 1884. It was later named the Canadian Amateur Athletic Union. In 1907 the MAAA formed its own group, the Amateur Athletic Federation of Canada. In 1909, the Amateur Athletic Union of Canada was formed, comprising the MAAA and the CAAU. This group encouraged the entry of individual sports groups and became the thread from which Canadian sport organizations grew. Dr A.S. Lamb of McGill had a strong role in its development.

The Canadian Olympic Committee emerged in 1909 from an earlier 1907 Central Olympic Committee. This committee was empowered to select teams and secure finances for travel to the Olympic Games, and was part of the larger AAUC organization. Sir John Handbury Williams was appointed Canada's first representative to the International Olympic Committee. In 1913 the COC became the Canadian Olympic Association, a member of the AAUC. Finally, in 1949, the Canadian Olympic Association was formed, independent of the AAUC.

The AAUC controlled amateur sport in Canada throughout the first half of the 20th century. On 1 October 1943 the Canada National Physical Fitness Act (NPFA) was passed. Although it did not compete with the AAUC, it recognized the importance of physical fitness for Canadians through physical education, sports and athletics. Most significantly, it brought the federal government into the sphere of amateur sport. In 1951, the NPFA brought into being the Canadian Sports Advisory Council, later to become the Sports Federation of Canada, which became the official lobbyist for national sport-governing bodies in Ottawa. The Fitness and Amateur Sport Act was passed on 29 September 1961, to promote and to develop fitness and amateur sport in Canada. For the first time, sport was to be actively supported by the federal government; the Fitness and Amateur Sport Directorate was formed as the administrative body.

A significant year for amateur sport in Canada was 1969. The Task Force on Sport for Canadians made numerous recommendations to the federal government, many of which were implemented. The most important consequence for amateur sport organizations was that in 1970 the Centre for Sport and Recreation became a reality, incorporated in 1974 as the National Sport and Recreation Centre. In return for locating in Ottawa, the federal government offered to amateur sport groups financial support for technical, executive and program staff, office expenses and secretarial help, and use of the centre's services at a reduced cost.

As of 2000, due to communication improvements, sport was still housed in Ottawa but many national sport organizations have decided to go their own way and many sports are found in different cities. Sport Canada is still a major corporate partner within sport organizations and "supports the achievement of high performance excellence and the development of the Canadian Sport system." The Canadian Olympic Committee, Coaching Association of Canada, and Sport Canada work together with sport organizations to provide one of the most comprehensive athlete support systems in the world. A major emphasis of these organizations was to stress the importance of marketing, sponsorship and business aspects of sport within Canadian Sport Associations in order to make them less financially dependent upon tax dollars.

As part of the decentralization process sport centres have been established in major cities to "enhance the training environment for high performance stream athletes, including those with disabilities." These administrative centres are in Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montréal and Halifax. Sport is still growing and Canada has become a world player for the development of athletes and the education of coaches.