League History

Basketball has been played in Victoria for almost 100 years. The game was developed in 1891, by James Naismith who was a young instructor from Canada, in response to a request to create a winter sport for the Y in Springfield, Massachusetts. Victoria's basketball tradition began soon after as two of the earliest teams, the Swifts and the Wasps, are remembered to have played this new sport in 1896. In 1908 the Huskies won the Pacific Coast Championship. Games were played in the old drill hall on Menzies which in more recent history was the home of the Motor Vehicle Branch. As many as 2,500 fans are said to have attended some of these contests. A name familiar to long time Victoria basketball fans, Bob Whyte, was a member of many of the outstanding teams of that era. It is reported that he played on teams prior to 1905, and one of these teams was the Boys' Brigade. In 1925 teams began playing in the Trades and Harbour Halls on Broad Street under the name of Victoria James Bay Athletic Assn. In 1934 the organization became the Victoria and District Amateur Basketball Association. james-naismith

In succeeding years many teams have enjoyed winning Provincial and Canadian honours. Women's basketball has always been very popular in Victoria. Such names as Fidelis, James Bay Athletic Association, Victoria Amateur Swim Club, BC Tel, Times, Eaglettes, Gainers, Adverts, Unitys, Hudson's Bay, Naval Vets and Maplettes. On the men's side, teams such as James Bay, Vic West, Times, First United, YMCA, Chinese Students, Blue Ribbons, Dominoes, Pat Bay Gremlins, Haida Chiefs, and Chinooks bring back memories of a long and fine tradition in the sport of basketball. There were many others. Of course, in recent times, can be seen a continuance of Victoria's excellent basketball tradition in the high schools and at the University of Victoria.

Where did all these teams play? Teams at that time also suffered from a shortage of gyms. It may surprise many to know the games were played in the Bay Street Armories, the YMCA, which was located at Blanshard Street at View, the James Bay Athletic Association's old clubhouse, upstairs in the old Duck Block on Broad Street, the old gymnasium at Victoria High School, now the Roper gym, and the First United old gym which is located under the main church and was originally built as a swimming pool.

Until 1965 adult teams made up the Victoria and District Basketball Association and the youth teams played in a Sunday School league sponsored by such names as Metropolitan United, First United, St. Louis College, St. Andrews, St. Patrick's, Sacred Heart, St. Ann's and others.

In 1965 adult and youth teams amalgamated under the Victoria and District Amateur Basketball Association. In the almost 30 years since then the youth or minor division has grown to encompass not only all of Greater Victoria but also the Saanich Peninsula and the Western Communities. This season the association has 123 teams of boys and girls comprising over 1,200 players playing in age groups from 9 to 15. Fifty-six games are played each week at SJ Willis, Central, Northridge, and Gordon Head gymnasiums. Victoria can look with pride on teams representing the city over the years. The Victoria and District Amateur Basketball Association makes it possible for hundreds of girls and boys to play this great game. The calibre of play among the youngsters is high. New stars are arising. Victoria's basketball future will be bright.