To mark International Women’s Day, Historica Canada tells the story of The Edmonton Grads in a new Heritage Minute. World champions in basketball for 17 straight years, the Grads were ordinary women – secretaries, clerks, teachers – who made sports history. To this day, they hold the best record in all of sport at 502 wins to only 20 losses.
Started in 1915 by J. Percy Page, the Edmonton Grads played for 25 years, competing in Canada, the US and Europe. Internationally, they won 3 Olympic exhibition tournaments in the 1920s & 1930s. Pioneers in women’s sport, the Grads helped change the perception of women’s participation in sport, which had been considered dangerous to women’s health.
Basketball inventor James Naismith once called The Grads “the finest team that ever stepped out on a floor.” The Grads now join Naismith as one of the Canadian stories told in Historica Canada’s Heritage Minutes collection.
“I had never seen a basketball before,” Kay (MacRitchie) MacBeth recalls of her first practice. At 95, she’s the only surviving member of the Grads. “It was a piece of cake, and I thought, I kind of like this!”
“The Grads have not received due recognition as one of the greatest sports teams ever in Canada,” said Anthony Wilson-Smith, President and CEO of Historica Canada. “We want to change that by sharing the story of these talented women.”