The Edmonton Grads
Facts and Details

The Edmonton Grads (1915-1940)
The Edmonton Grads (1915-1940)
The Edmonton Grads were a women's basketball team that dominated from 1915-1940. Led by Percy Page, this team was practically unbeatable, winning 93% of all their games played. Up until today, no team in any sport has come close to beating the record left by these ladies. The Commercial Graduates Club is the formal name of the team, which originally started at McDougall Commercial High School in Edmonton. People thought women’s basketball was not a big deal, but Percy Page and Dr. James Naismith saw it very differently. Naismith was very concerned for the popularity of the sport for women and asked good friend Percy Page to help raise awareness for the sport. Page assembled a basketball team from his most athletic players and sought out to conquer the basketball world. Page, being the principle of McDougall Commercial High School at that time, developed a system where he could select the absolute best players for his team. He called it the "farm system." The players would develop their skills through working their way up three teams. When the players made it to the third team called the Gradettes, and there was an opening in the Grads, the player would join and officially become part of the squad.

Percy Page did not oversee everything by himself, but received a bit of assistance. Assistant Bill Tate helped with the coaching and supervising to relieve Percy Page some of the stress. To wear the black-and-gold uniform and play for the Grads was a very big honour, and throughout the "golden ages", a total of 38 players played under Page's brilliant coaching.
The Edmonton Grads was so popular that merchandise was produced and sold. Above is a Christmas greeting card from the team in 1935
The Edmonton Grads was so popular that merchandise was produced and sold. Above is a Christmas greeting card from the team in 1935

Winning 502 games out of 522 games in Canada, the United States and Europe, the Edmonton Grads were a force to be reckoned with. "The finest basketball team that ever stepped out on a floor," was what Dr. James Naismith, making the Edmonton Grads the best ever team to play the game. Of the 20 losses, some of the losses were accounted for in exhibition games against men's teams. In 1924,--- On top of that big achievement of winning 93% of their games, the team also won 49 out of 50 domestic title and the championship at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. The team won 4 consecutive Olympic Games (1924-1936), winning every match and outscored their opponents 1863-297. The first international victory was in the Underwood International Championships. The team never lost a series, winning it 23 times. The Grads never surrendered the Underwood trophy to an opponent until the team broke up just before World War II. In the same year the team won the Olympics, they also won their third consecutive North American Championship series. The year before the Olympics, the team lost its first North American Championship series (1933), but in the next three following years, the team won three consecutive titles (1934-1936) .


Throughout the 25 years of glory, opponents were stunned by the team's success. They could not figure out why the Grads were winning game after game with so much ease. A big part of the success was due to the hard work that the girls and coach put in. From start to finish, the team practiced every week two times, and only took breaks during the summer months. Mr.Page missed practice only three times while campainging for a seat in the Alberta legislature. Page eventually became a Conservative member of the Alberta house for four years from 1952-1959. After having a seat in the Alberta house, Page become the lieutenant-govenor of Alberta from 1959-1966.

The team left such a lasting impression that 67 years later, an author wrote a book about the champions of all time.
The team left such a lasting impression that 67 years later, an author wrote a book about the champions of all time.

Page constantly preached to his players about hard work and determination, and most imoprtant of all, fair play. The Grads were also a very respected team, partly because of their success, but also because of their style of fair play. This team, having demonstrated exceptional skill and sportsmanship, will always have a place in Canadian sports and history.








"You must play basketball, think basketball, and dream basketball"
-Coach Percy Page



Here is a link to a video about the Edmonton Grads from Historica Minutes.


Significance of this topic in Canadian and/or World History
At this time, women were not supposed to be stars playing basketball. Women were expected to be good wives, take care of the kids, cook and clean. The women on the Edmonton Grads were not the everyday housewife. Although some of them did have families, one of their biggest focus was on basketball. The women were traveling around the world, playing teams in foreign countries and making relatively good money.

Since basketball then was not a real sport, nobody really watched it closely. In 1996 the Women's National Basketball Association started in the states, a counterpart to men's NBA (National Basketabll Association). Although most of the players have heard of the Edmonton Grads, the women playing now are too young to have witnessed the unrivaled dynasty.