History: In the fall of 1964, following a football game at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, four gentlemen (Don Loney, head football coach at St. F.X.; a friend of his, Phil Carr-Harris; Peter Gorman Sr., a Toronto businessman whose son was a quarterback at St. F.X.; and Bill Rodda, a friend of Gorman Sr.) were enjoying a post-game beverage and discussing football in general and university football in particular.
The previous year, the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (CIAU) had initiated national championships in Men’s Hockey and Basketball and all four men felt that football should have a national championship as well. Thus was born an idea.
The CIAU, both financially (travel costs) and philosophically (eligibility rules, egos, turf) was not ready for such a move and so Gorman, with an indomitable positive attitude, began to develop a different scenario on his return to Toronto. He would create an annual invitational championship game with a recipient charity and guaranteed travel costs for the two teams, selected by a national panel, to play for an as-yet unnamed trophy.
In short order, Gorman incorporated the event as The Canadian College Bowl, pulled together a group of Toronto business acquaintances to serve as the directors of the Bowl Game each of whom would guarantee any losses from the game, and persuaded the Toronto Lions Clubs to organize a College Bowl Parade. Next he approached The Canadian Save the Children Fund, with which he was already heavily involved, to serve as the recipient charity of the game.
Gorman then approached Governor-General Georges P. Vanier, who was already the official patron of The Canadian Save the Children Fund, to see if he would assent to have the Championship trophy named in his honour. The Governor-General agreed and Gorman had 90% of his package, plus a Vanier Cup trophy. The final piece of the puzzle would be to obtain the CIAU’s endorsement. The CIAU agreed, especially since it would have the opportunity to name its own committee to liaise with Gorman’s group and serve as the panel of experts that would select the two participating teams each year. Faced with a proposition which would increase the profile of the fledgling organization, add another championship to its slim portfolio at no cost and with a major role in the selection of teams, the CIAU accepted Gorman’s proposal and so began the flagship of all Canadian University Championships, or as a McKinsey & Company report, endorsed by the CIAU Board of Directors, later called it, “Canada’s Premier University Event.”.
After two successful invitational games, the CIAU had overcome many of the earlier hurdles to establishing a national football championship, and in Canada’s Centennial year, 1967, the Canadian College Bowl became Canada’s University Football Championship. The invitational nature of the championship was replaced by a national play-off, much to the delight of observers of the NCAA Bowl games and the debatable national championship polls.
In 1974, the Toronto Junior Board of Trade, organizers of the then bi-annual Toronto Grey Cup Festival, were brought in to create the College Bowl Festival and organize and obtain sponsors for events such as the Outstanding Players Awards Dinner, the All-Canadian Luncheon, the Kick for Cansave, a Friday night dance, a Board of Trade dinner, and the afore-mentioned Parade.
In 1982 the CIAU assumed full control of the event and renamed it the Vanier Cup. The Canadian College Bowl Board of Directors was re-established as the Vanier Cup Management (later Organizing) Committee, with representatives from the Toronto business community, the Toronto Junior Board of Trade, the CIAU, and local universities, and a large cadre of volunteers. This continued through the 2000 game, after which responsibility for organization was shifted to the hosting conferences, initially the OUA, and in 2006, the Canada West conference, where the game was played at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, the OUA again with games in 2007 and 2008 in Hamilton and Toronto, and most recently the QUFL with Universite Laval hosting in 2009 and 2010.
On Saturday, November 28, 2009, the game that started as just post-game banter, the Vanier Cup, celebrated its 43rd anniversary. The Queen's University Golden Gaels won a come-from-behind thriller over the University of Calgary Dinos 33-31 for their 4th Vanier Cup championship.
Most recently, the Laval Rouge et Or successfully hosted the Vanier Cup on November 27, 2010 and defeated the University of Calgary Dinos, 29-2.
December 1, 2010
Jeff's involvement with the Vanier Cup began in 1978 when as a member of the Toronto Junior Board of Trade, he volunteered on the 1978 College Bowl Festival Committee. He co-chaired that Committee in 1980 (with Jim Barnett), and as President of the TJBT, oversaw the transition year from the Canadian College Bowl to the Vanier Cup. He remained an active member of the College Bowl Board of Directors and then the Vanier Cup Management Committee and Organizing Committee through 2000, including Chairing the event in 1998 (co-chaired with Jamie Bone) and 1999 . He was recognized by the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union with the John Alexander Award as the Vanier Cup's outstanding volunteer in 1994 and again in 1998 (with Jamie Bone).
Jeff began digitally chronicling the Vanier Cup in 2002, and his photos of the Vanier Cup championship games are shown here: