During 1901, the popularity of baseball, America’s national pastime, continued to expand within most western Canadian communities, in particular Winnipeg / Southern Manitoba, the lower mainland and Vancouver Island of British Columbia and those areas within close proximity to the U.S. border.
This increased interest in baseball was especially evident in the upsurge of coverage afforded by the print media in Winnipeg and Vancouver over the previous season. Interestingly cricket, another bat and ball recreational activity, this one of British origin, was also a very in-vogue sport during this era.
According to the 1901 Canada census, Winnipeg was western Canada’s largest city with a population of 42,336, a figure which ranked sixth in the nation. Vancouver and Victoria, at 26,196 and 20,831 respectively, were the second and third most populous western Canadian cities but, on a national level, they ranked tenth and twelfth. Their level of population growth, especially when factoring in immigration from nearby American border towns, would appear to have some bearing upon baseball’s surge in prominence.
Most communities had loosely integrated baseball nines which occasionally partook in friendly exhibitions with adjacent and neighbouring towns but organized leagues were rare. Participating in baseball helped immigrant settlers from Europe better integrate into western Canada’s pioneer society.