Women In Sport : Pre-Confederation Newfoundland
Project Team
The Rooms
In 1895 a “Lady Bicyclist” was viewed cycling through the fog of St. John’s in the company of a young man.When questioned by a reporter about the propriety of the sport, the woman replied that she not only had the right to bicycle, but also believed in “woman suffrage and all the other privileges which the advanced woman says unjust laws deprive her of.” - (Daily News, 27 June 1895)

VA 25.19 Girl beside bicycle outside house (shows foundation): [ca.1900]

In 1895 the participation of women in sports was novel.Today the achievements of female athletes are celebrated. Yet the stories of the women who participated in sports in pre-confederation Newfoundland have rarely been recorded or documented.

The Women in Sport Virtual Exhibit was inspired by interviews with women involved in athletic pursuits in pre-1949 Newfoundland, conducted by archivists Linda Murphy and Frances Horwood. Special thanks to the following women who shared their memories and family photographs:

Olive Wilcox, Bay Roberts Vera Taylor, Grand Falls-Windsor
Lillian Howse , Grand Falls-Windsor Edith Dean, Grand Falls-Windsor
Janet Story, St. John’s Evelyn Gibbons, St. John’s (formerly Bell Island)
Frances Godden, St. John’s Hilda Green, St. John’s
Emma Wells, St. John’s (formerly Carbonear) Jean Taylor, St. John’s (formerly Carbonear)
Elizabeth Baird Eaton, St. John’s Mary Kelsey, St. John’s
Ruth Guzzwell, St. John’s  

SANL 1.47.001
St. John’s Lawn Tennis Club [ca. 1900] Club and courts were located at the corner of Forest Road and Factory Lane

Through text, photographs and audio clips, we invite you to share the experiences of these women, many of whom were sports pioneers in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In the early years, women athletes played under great difficulties, frequently without proper uniforms or equipment, adequate access to facilities, or financial support. Many ended their participation in sports when they assumed family responsibilities. However, the women who were interviewed also recalled the warm friendships and the team solidarity created through their involvement in organized sports.

Today female athletes in Newfoundland and Labrador compete with excellence and pride in a diversity of sports. However, the legacy of the early years of women in sports in the province should not be forgotten.

B 3-140 Girls playing croquet, Spencer Lodge
This photograph appears in our website mast head.


This project was made possible in part through the Canadian Culture Online Program of Canadian Heritage, the
National Archives of Canada and the Canadian Council of Archives.