In addition to hockey, what's the other national sport of Canada, as defined by the National Sports of Canada Act?
And the answer: lacrosse.
In 1994, Canada’s Parliament passed the National Sports of Canada Act, which declared two national sports. Ice hockey became the country's official winter sport, while lacrosse became the official summer sport.
The origins of lacrosse in Canada date back before the French title defined the sport. The First Nations, Canada’s indigenous people, were observed playing the game of lacrosse back in the 17th century by European settlers. The Algonquin people named it Baggataway, while the Iroquois Nation called it Tewaarathon. The First Nations played the game for their Creator, as it was a way for them to show their gratitude to the Great Spirit.
French settlers soon picked up on the game and began calling it la crosse, the French word for crozier, or staff. In the 1800s, Montreal residents became interested in the sport and struck up local games against First Nations teams.
It wasn't until the 1860s that William George Beers produced a pamphlet outlining the rules and instructions for the sport. Now known as the father of modern lacrosse, Beers went on to replace the deerskin ball with one made from hard rubber, and organize a conference in 1867 to create the National Lacrosse Association (today known as the Canadian Lacrosse Association). Today, lacrosse is recognized as a national sport in Canada, and is popular around much of North America.
Learn more about lacrosse's Native origins below.