It’s still with me,’ says Kay MacBeth, decades after she was on the court with the Edmonton Grads basketball team. ’It’s in my heart.’

It’s still with me,’ says Kay MacBeth, decades after she was on the court with the Edmonton Grads basketball team. ’It’s in my heart.’
Photo Credit: Havard Gould-CBC

One of the best international teams in sport ever: Canadian, female, and virtually unknown.

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It’s a Canadian team that holds an undisputed record, 502 wins against 20 losses.

For decades, the team beat almost all comers in matches across Canada, the US, and Europe.

Headlines of a defeat of the so-called *world champion* US team by the Canadian women. © NFB

They won the Underwood International Championships 23 times and were world champs for 17 straight years. They also won three Olympic exhibition tournaments in the 1920’s and 30’s defeating opponents in all 27 games.

Paris Olympics 1923-24: World Champions many times over, in the early years, the Edmonton Grads played in bloomers, heavy socks, and long sleeved jerseys. That soon changed as they began playing and beating more *modern* dressed American teams. © Alberta Archives NA-3521-1

They played basketball and were called the “Edmonton Grads” and were virtually unbeatable from 1915 to 1940.  Along the way they helped to dispel the myth that women were not suited to vigourous sports. But the incredible story of these women athletes, is virtually unknown today.

Now Historica Canada wants to bring this incredible story back to light.

They’ve created one of Canada’s “Heritage Minutes”, released today on International Women’s Day to highlight this incredible team’s history

The Canadian inventor of basketball, James Naismith is reported to have said the Grads were, “”the finest basketball team that ever stepped on a floor”.

A later image of the Grads playing in International “Canada” uniforms

They began as a high-school girls team at McDougall Commercial High School in Edmonton and were known as the Commercial Graduates Basketball Club. They were coached by John Percy Page who became the 8th Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta.  From these humble local beginnings, they went on to international fame prior to the Second World War.

Past members and the final team in a photo in June 1940. The team was disbanded as their home arena was taken over for military training purposes © Alberta Archives KS35-1

With the arrival of the darkening war clouds, the Team disbanded in 1940 when their home arena was taken over for military training and their training as secretaries, clerks, and teachers were needed in that effort.

National Film Board Documentary- “Shooting Stars” (YouTube)

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