Braydon Chenier

Canadian History: How it was done

What History Helped me Realize

A lot of the pre-confederation Canada were memorable moments that created the society we live in today and it made an important part in history. History, however, is not always about the huge moments, it is also about the moments that go unseen. History made me realize that in ways its kind of an inception by there being history being made in the history that is already being made. From the readings that I have done and just from taking a history class it is amazing how some events that are very minor can cause an impact on a reader. In my opinion, some of the minor events have made the biggest impacts in society today and tend to be forgotten until research is being done.

Taking this course also made me realize how forgotten Canada is in history because of reputation of being the “peacekeepers”. It is amazing to me to know what I do now and the impacts that has happened that has not being covered fully in depth. Is some of the events really major? No, but the Canadian history has has made contributions around the world and it is surprising that for the most part it has gone unnoticed.

Reading Logs

Throughout my history class every week we were given readings about different events that occurred in the pre-confederation Canadian era and the more I read about different events, the more appreciation I gave and the more intrigued I was about what happened. From learning about the Beothuk people and what happened in that brutal and  overwhelming time to the duels that happened that people never really knew Canada did. It is amazing to get these stories and facts of these historical events because everyone that I read gave me a knew outlook on Canada and the identity that it has.

Why Lacrosse is Important to Me

Lacrosse was the first sport I have played competitively and it was the most fun I had playing as kid. The sport runs in my family as well with having a lot of my cousins and other relatives playing then and now. I have played the game for many years and fell in love with the sport more and more every time I played. I was able to have success in my lacrosse “career” by winning medals with my teammates and with my team naming me captain for the last couple seasons I have played. The game means a lot to me, so when it was mentioned that lacrosse was a topic I could do, I jumped all over the opportunity and found some very unique facts and to be able to compare it to today’s game is really amazing with how much change that has happened. I never would have found all these facts without being in this class and able to think historically to get all the information I could.


History is a subject that you can do an endless amount of research on, but you have to enjoy what your learning about to actually grasp the knowledge. Leaning about what has happened in the past (especially the Canadian past) gives a person a different perspective society now with how things have drastically changed. The Canadian history is very unique and surprising at the same time with the events that has occurred because if you do not do the research you do not know what kind of impacts Canada actually contributed to the world. History is a very interesting concept because with every second that passes by it is in the past, but it is the moments that are memorable that is what creates history.

What Lacrosse Looked Like

This image shows lacrosse being played by several players and gives a great idea of how and why the sport was so brutal and vicious.

Women in Canada

Generally when you think of the past you think the norm where men were dominant and and the women had very limited rights. Even as true as it was, women subconsciously did have power and in some situations control in the pre-confederation years. When young girls were shipped over to Canada from Great Britain, those who survived the long and dangerous trip were the ones to choose a suitable mate that they like. They did however have a deadline to choose a mate, but it was their choice and it was not technically forced on them. The roles were changed because the single men would have done anything to be with one of these women. It was an ironic time because even though men were usually in control, the women were making the more important choices.

Once a women was to settle down, to populate the areas by them they were to have at least 5-7 kids. so they were always busy. Even with watching the kids while the men worked, the women did a lot around the house such as: sewing and farming. Some of the women were entrepreneurs and would develop companies and do there own trades. Some of the items that they would trade were hides and furs, but to make them more unique they would sometimes dye or tan them to make them more stylish.

Women were very underrated with how much power they did have and people never thought twice about it. In my opinion they were definitely the unsung heroes of the past and do not get the credit they do deserve.

How To Start Thinking Historically

Staring a history class with very little knowledge on the specific topic of study can be very overwhelming and hard to process. The reason why it can be like that is because of how in depth you must go into the subject and start thinking historically.

To think historically you have to be able to think outside of the box and look at the point of view of the people who were actually there at the time of the event. Primary documents of a topic such as: archives, books, journal articles, and newspaper from the specific era gives you a better understanding of what actually was going on and you are able to see the bigger picture. Being able to think historically will help your overall look of a history course by being understand how history is done and why it is done, but most importantly it will give a greater appreciation of how and why history was made.

My Research Paper

For a history research paper, since I am very passionate about sports I thought it would be fitting to write about a specific sport that happened in pre-confederation Canadian history. My topic of choice was to write about the Native American people and their roles in the creation and design of lacrosse. To how the game was originated, a spectators point of view from that time, and the equipment used by the Indigenous people. Lacrosse gave an identity to the Canadian culture and the Indigenous people.

The Canadian National Game of Lacrosse

Native Americans in pre-confederation Canada have made big contributions to the modern society for sports[1]. In the Mid 1800’s, the sport of lacrosse or as it was known back then as La Crosse or stick ball, has created its own identity not only for the sport, but also for the Native American people who created it. The origin of lacrosse is unique, with it being originated in Canada and tribes from across the country would play. It was a sport like no other on how it was played and the brutality that brought. Given the point of views from people who attend these games such as William George Beers, gives us more of a general idea of how the sport impacted each community and shows the set traditions, rituals, and rules that are followed before, during, and after each match. The equipment that was used was very creative and assessable to everyone, however, it was not easy to make with the components to create the sticks and the ball. Knowing where the origin of lacrosse began and having a point of view of how the game was played, as well as what was used as equipment, we understand a deeper meaning lacrosse.

Lacrosse was created by the Native American people and was mainly played on the eastern side of Canada where the bigger tribes were. The original tribes to start playing lacrosse were the Algonquin tribe and the Objiways, with other tribes around the region of the great lakes followed suit.[2] The rules were very simple to follow because there was only two of them: “The ball was not to be touched by a player’s hand and there were no boundaries”[3]. With being very limited rules, the whole tribe could play at once because there was no rule of how many players could play at the same time. The distances between the goals varied from game to game with it being “500 yards to several miles apart”[4] and the goals were generally a certain tree that was suppose to be hit. Lacrosse was a game played for religious reasons and because it helped young men develop into warriors; it also appealed to “young French males” as well because of the violent environment of the game and they were enamoured by it.[5] Lacrosse had idiosyncrasies because there was not one specific way to play the game.[6] However, it’s main purpose was recreation for the players and the spectators. In 1856, William George Beers founded the first the lacrosse organization called the Montreal Lacrosse Club and started to make more rules so the game had more of a purpose.[7] Beers considered lacrosse a national Canadian pastime and found other sports “irrelevant” and promoted lacrosse to be the official national sport instead of what Europeans brought upon them.[8] In 1860, Lacrosse was recognized as Canada national sport and was noticed around the world where others would soon play.

William George Beers is one of the most famous people of the sport of lacrosse because of the way he transformed the game into what it was. In his book, “Lacrosse: The National Sport of Canada”, he gives a good point of view on how the game was played with the Native Americans. From the way, it was viewed, it was considered as a “deadly combat”[9] with the ongoing brutality that was being displayed. It was considered like that because players were not wearing much clothing and if someone was to get hit, significant damage could be done. The overall outcome could be between “limb and life”[10]  when a player would get hit. Beers compares lacrosse to “the gladiatorial game […] and the bull fights of Spain” with how each person was being tested physically.[11] However, the Native American tribes brought a sense of grace before the start of a match with each tribe having rituals and traditions that were done. Over the course of two weeks prior to the match, players were only to eat a very minimum amount of food, almost to the point of fasting so that they could be as fit as possible for “the exertion and anticipation”[12] of the game. When it was the night before the game, the tribes were to attend a “training dance” which was a ceremony that consisted of “frantic movements” and constant yelling to imitate the military dances of the Greeks”.[13] To complete this ceremony, players afterward would go to the nearest stream and soak in it; the purpose of the dance was an “invocation to the Great Spirit for victory”.[14] Several hours before the match was to begin, the players were not supposed to be seen by anyone as they were putting on the proper attire and body paint, so they would be in opposites forests near the field.[15] The goal area was approximately “500 yards to several miles apart” and there have been estimates of 100 to 100,000 players playing at once.[16]

The equipment that was used was unique with what the sticks looked like and how the ball was made. They could use resources around them to craft what they needed. The ball is made of deer-skin or raw-hide stuffed with hair and sewed together.[17] It was an effective use of materials because it was heavy enough to throw it for a good distance. Other tribes around the Detroit River area used a heavier wooden ball, particularly a big knot from a tree and others “improvised” by using pine tree bark.[18] The lacrosse stick was 3-4 feet in length, with a circle formed at the top that was three inches long and two inches wide, and was about twelve inches in circumference.[19] The hoop consisted of two strings tied across to securely catch and hold the ball; usually each player carries two sticks at the same time.[20] Only playing with one stick was far more difficult and was generally only done by the experts because it was considered a challenge.[21] The players never wore any equipment to protect themselves, all that was worn was a “tight breech cloth”, but on certain occasions they would decorate themselves using body paint and wore “ornamental bead work and feathers”.[22] Without wearing any body protection it was a very vicious game to play because players could easily get hurt when hit with a stick or by an another player. Not only could they could be severely injured, but this game could result in multiple deaths with how it was played and with how many players were on the field at the same time.

The origin, having an accurate point of view, and know what was used as equipment and what it consisted of gives us a nice understanding of the uniqueness and beauty the game brought to Canada. Native Americans implemented a brutally vicious game and gave themselves a sense of identity and gave spectators amusement because of the sheer violence. Young men were generally more intrigued than others about lacrosse because of the warrior like qualities that were being displayed. Having that point of view of someone who witnessed a game gives an idea what the players had to endure not only playing on the field, but what was done off the field to prepare for a long and grueling battle. Being able to craft the right equipment and have good quality from the resources, showed how much Native Americans and Canadians cared about the game and did what it took to honour the game. Lacrosse is an amazing sport with being as violent as it was and it gave an identity not only to the Native American people, but to Canada as well.

Work Cited

McClunney B., Eugene, “Lacrosse: The Combat of the Spirits” (1974): p.32

George Beers, William, “Lacrosse: The National Game of Canada” (1869) p.7-19

Edited by: Claydon, Jane, “Origin of Men’s Lacrosse” (November 2016)

Robidoux A, Michael, “Imagining a Canadian Identity in sport: A Historical Interpretation of Lacrosse and Hockey” 115, 456, (2002) p.213

[1] Eugene B. McClunney, “Lacrosse: The Combat of the Spirits” (1974) p.34

[2] Edited by: Jane Claydon, “Origin of Men’s Lacrosse” (date unknown)

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Michael A. Robidoux, “Imagining a Canadian Identity in sport: A Historical Interpretation of Lacrosse and Hockey p.213

[6] Ibid p.215

[7] Edited by: Jane Claydon, “Origin of Men’s Lacrosse” (date unknown)

[8] Michael A. Robidoux, “Imagining a Canadian Identity in sport: A Historical Interpretation of Lacrosse and Hockey

[9] William George Beers, “Lacrosse: The National Game of Canada” p.7

[10] Ibid

[11] Ibid p.8

[12] Ibid p.16

[13] Ibid p.17

[14] Ibid

[15] Ibid p.19

[16] Edited by: Jane Claydon, “Origin of Men’s Lacrosse” (November 20, 2016)

[17] William George Beers, “Lacrosse: The National Game of Canada” p.13

[18] Ibid

[19] Ibid p.11-12

[20] Ibid p.12

[21] Ibid

[22] Ibid p.15

Learning About Canadian History

When first learning about Canadian history we were asked a question of “what is history and how do we do it?”. My response was that history is memorable events and/or activities that have occurred in the past and that history made after every second that has passed.

Towards the end of my class came to realize that history has so much more depth and meaning in it once the research is done. So when we were asked that question again my response was written a bit differently:

In a broad sense, history is a series of events that has occurred in the past, however, in terms of Canadian history we know that it was very undervalued and ultimately forgotten by many.  Being able to think historically helps me understand the depth of certain topics and want to learn more about it. I’ve learned that in history that you should create something that is memorable and will not be forgotten, for example, the readings on “La fille to roi”, that reading demonstrated the importance of women in early Canada and showed how the women coming from Britain had power. Historically people do not recognize it like that and view only the men having control. How we do history is by creating a platform for the future in terms of creating society into what it will become and to make certain situations memorable. History can doesn’t necessarily mean that it impacts the past, it also can set up what can happen in the future. Although, in terms of making something memorable can be unseen unless going into depth on a specific topic. Creating history and understanding how we do it go hand in hand by the events that create an impact on current or later events. You must understand history to be able to know how to create it. Canadian history has made a huge impact in overall history and being able to understand what the society has done over the past years, it has important events that should not be forgotten.

Pre-Confederation Sports

Going into this course I really enjoy sports, so reading and listening how and what Native Americans did for amusement and sport was fascinating. They discovered Lacrosse which was a very viscous sport with the potential for people to die in some cases. The sport did bring the communities together for their shared amusement and it was amazing to understand what was done in order to play and what was done before games begun. With what rituals were done to actually playing the game, it had so much meaning because there was relevance for every boy to play by gaining strength and skill and becoming someone who is solidifying themselves as a true warrior for their community. The sport of lacrosse really gave the Native Americans a true identity and put Canada on the map.

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