Business: BC Lions 1st Year Program For Sale

By on March 18, 2017

For sale is a 1st year BC Lions program. Very rare item. Is from 1954. Would look so nice in a frame!
BC Lions history
Franchise history
Before the Lions

Compared to the rest of the country, senior football arrived late in British Columbia. Rugby unions had been organized in all of the Prairie provinces by 1907 and the Western Canada Rugby Football Union had been formed in 1911. However, it would not be until 1926 (after the sudden collapse of the Western Hockey League) that the British Columbia Rugby Football Union was formed, and not until 1930 that the BCRFU would challenge for the right to represent the West in the Grey Cup. The Vancouver Meralomas were the most successful British Columbian team of the era. They played in the Western Final in 1930 and again in 1934, only to lose on both occasions to the Regina Roughriders of the Saskatchewan Rugby Football Union.

The BCRFU stopped challenging for the Grey Cup following the formation of the Western Interprovincial Football Union. After the BCRFU’s collapse in 1941, the Vancouver Grizzlies joined the WIFU. They played only one season, finishing 1-7, before the WIFU suspended operations for the duration of the Second World War. The Grizzlies did not return after the war.
Origin of the Lions

In 1951, a group led by Ken Stauffer and Tiny Radar were inspired by Vancouver Sun columnist Andy Lytle’s article to start a new football team in Vancouver that would play in the WIFU. The ownership group sent Radar and Orville Burke to represent them at the off-season WIFU meetings to initiate Vancouver’s bid for a team. The Burkes were told to return to the meetings the following year with a $25,000 good-faith bond if they could generate sufficient interest in the Vancouver area. The first meetings were held at the Arctic Club in November and a committee headed by Burke and Harry Spring of the Meraloma Rugby Club, set out to sell memberships at $20 each.

Though Burke, Vic Spencer, and John Davidson offered the good-faith bond to the WIFU in 1952, the idea of having a Vancouver team was rejected when both Winnipeg and Saskatchewan voted against the idea of a fifth team. The group in Vancouver, however, did not give up their efforts to have a franchise in the WIFU.

On January 22, 1953, the first annual meeting of the club was held. In that meeting, Arthur E. Mercer was hired as the club’s first president. Later in the year, Mercer, Bill Morgan, Bill Ralston, and Whit Matthews went back to the WlFU meetings. This time, they sold the idea of a fifth Western team, and Vancouver was granted a conditional franchise. They were required to provide a 15,000-seat stadium, sell at least 6,500 season tickets, and guarantee travel expenses for the visiting teams.

All the pieces began to fall into place when it was announced that Vancouver would host the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, and that it would mean the building of a new stadium – Empire Stadium, which seated 32,300 people. By Easter of 1953, Annis Stukus was then lured away from the Toronto Argonauts to return to the West to become the first public relations manager, general manager, and head coach of the franchise.
Naming the team

During the rest of 1953, a fan contest was held by all of the local media to pick the team’s new name. The nickname was chosen because it represented a local landmark and legend of the area. The nickname of the team was based on the Lions, twin mountain peaks that can be seen toward the north of Vancouver. The twin mountain peaks name was based on legend that the mountains looked like two lions guarding the city. Through this landmark and legend, the “Lions” nickname became the winner in the fan contest to become the new name of the franchise.

After the fan contest, the Vancouver label was revealed to not be part of the team name. Though the franchise was based in Vancouver and the “Lions” name was based on a local landmark and legend, Stukus decided to reject the idea of naming the team as the Vancouver Lions. Instead, he decided that the team should represent and embrace the entire province of British Columbia. In the end, Stukus introduced the team to the entire Canadian football world as the BC Lions.

The mountain lion has a strong connection to the name of the team, as it appears in the BC Lions’ logo. The mountain lion (or cougar) had an influence on the name of the team because it is renowned for its speed, courage and strength and is carefully respected by British Columbia’s citizens as a remarkable but dangerous predator. The new team also adopted the black and orange colours of the Meralomas.
Notable seasons

League annals show 13 Western Division regular season championships, 10 Western Division championships and six Grey Cup championships.
1954–1960, the first seasons
BC Lions’ logo from 1954 to 1968

In their 1954 inaugural season, Stukus sold football fever on the streets of Vancouver and put together a team that made history when they stepped on the field of Empire Stadium for their first home game, against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, on Saturday, August 28, 1954. In that game, fullback Byron (By) Bailey scored the first touchdown in franchise history in an 8–6 loss to the Blue Bombers. The Lions were only able to manage a 1–15–0 record in their inaugural season. The team recorded their first franchise win, against the Calgary Stampeders, on September 18, 1954, at Empire Stadium, with By Bailey scoring the winning touchdown in a 9–4 Lions’ victory. On that night, the win caused the BC faithful to celebrate in the streets. However, celebrations like this were not common for Lions’ fans during the 1950s.

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