Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery
The arrival of athletes and fans for the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am Games marks a new chapter in Ontario’s Sporting Past. The sports that make up the Games have a long history in Ontario - in some cases going back more than a century or even millennia.
Track and Field sports have tested running, jumping, and throwing skills for millennia. Although the Ancient Olympic Games in Greece provided the first documented instance of organized Track and Field events, the rise of recordkeeping and improved time measurement techniques over the past century has added a new dimension to the sport.
The origins of modern gymnastics date back to the late 1700s and early 1800s with the work of German educators, who advocated for physical activity as part of the school day. As this photograph shows, both the YWCA and YMCA have played prominent roles in introducing the thrill of gymnastics to children in Ontario.
The TORONTO 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am Games includes two forms of rugby – rugby sevens and wheelchair rugby. Rugby developed in England during the 19th century as a form of football, and Toronto established its own squad in 1873 –the oldest existing professional sports team in North America that still has its original name.
Originally used solely as a means of transportation, rowing evolved into a competitive sport in England during the 18th century. Boat racing first appeared in Canada during the early 19th century, and Canadian rowers have gained international acclaim for their success in the sport.
Two yachters lean out on the starboard (right) side to balance the force of the wind, a technique called ‘hiking out.’ Sailing has long been a form of wind-powered transportation, but became a competitive sport in the mid-19th century. The TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games include ten sailing events, with sailboats plying Toronto Harbour as they have for more than a century.
From swimming to kayaking, water polo to wakeboarding, a number of sports at the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am Games are played in water. Competitive diving emerged in the 1880s as “plunging competitions,” growing out of the act of diving in the water at the beginning of swim races.
Dr. James Naismith--born in Almonte, Canada West (now Ontario)--invented basketball in 1891 as a YMCA instructor in Springfield, Massachusetts. Naismith wanted to develop a team game that could be played indoors during the cold winter months. Since then, the sport has become popular across the globe.
Inspired by Dr. Naismith’s invention of basketball, William G. Morgan developed volleyball in 1895, while also working as a YMCA instructor in Massachusetts. Morgan created the sport as a less intense alternative to basketball for the YMCA’s older members.
Canada was the first country outside the United States to adopt volleyball. This photo depicts Canadian troops playing it at a First World War military base in England. The TORONTO 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am Games feature volleyball, beach volleyball, and sitting volleyball.
Pictured here is Canadian Paralympian Laszlo Decsi, who won silver and gold medals for shooting in the 1980 and 1992 Summer Paralympics.
Sports for athletes with disabilities became more common in the 1940s and 1950s as a way to help rehabilitate veterans and civilians who had been injured during the war. The first Paralympic Games were held in 1960, and the Parapan Am Games were established in 1999 as a qualifying event for the Paralympics. With 1500 athletes competing in 15 sports, the TORONTO 2015 Parapan Am Games is the largest to date.