There was a time when cricket – not hockey – was Canada’s national sport.
The earliest confirmed reference to the sport is of games being played in 1785 on Montreal’s St. Helen’s Island, which was the site of the Expo 67 world fair and St. John’s Cricket Club in Newfoundland, one of the earliest clubs in the country, having been established in the mid-1820s.
Such was the popularity of the game that Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John MacDonald, declared it the national sport when this country became a confederation in 1867. Twenty three years earlier, the world’s oldest sporting rivalry – cricket featuring neighbours Canada and the United States – was launched.
Cricket Nation, which makes its Toronto premiere at the Caribbean Tales Film Festival on Saturday, explores the sport’s lengthy history in Canada.
Filmed in the Greater Toronto Area, Antigua and Bangalore, the 60-minute documentary also highlights the cricketing life of a Canadian newcomer who brings his love for the sport from India and a Canadian-born hockey player who discovers cricket late in life. Believing they can easily adapt to cricket because hockey – for them – is a tougher sport, the Canadian friends accepts his challenge to try their hand at cricket.
Stephen Young-Chin wrote, edited, produced and directed the documentary that will be shown at The Royal Theatre, 608 College. St. at 2.30 p.m.
He said his passion for the sport emerged while growing up in Jamaica and attending Wolmer’s, whose graduates include former West Indies cricketers Jackie Hendriks, Gerry Alexander, Maurice Foster and Jeffrey Dujon.
Young-Chin completed high school at Lakefield College, which is a private boarding institution near Peterborough and the alma mater of former Toronto mayor David Miller, who also represented the school at the sport, before completing a Bachelor of Fine Art with honours at York University.
The CTFF ninth edition was launched last week with the screening of The Glamour Boyz Again. The film features calypsonians The Mighty Sparrow and Lord Superior in an acoustic performance shot on the Hilton Trinidad hotel rooftop during the 2002 Carnival season.
The eight-time calypso monarch and road march champion attended the screening and was serenaded by Organization of Calypso Performing Artists six-time champion, Macomere Fifi, and honoured with a plaque for his significant artistic contributions.
The Trinidad & Tobago government, which a few years ago launched a competitive incentive program that provides a cash rebate of up to 30 per cent for expenditures accrued while filming in the twin-island republic, sponsored the opening night festivities.
Frances-Anne Solomon started the festival after returning to Toronto 14 years ago from England, where she worked with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as a TV drama producer and executive producer.
“I had a vision that we could create, produce, exhibit, sell and build a sustainable film industry showing our images to ourselves,” she said.
The festival ends on Saturday night with an awards ceremony and the closing night feature, Two Smart, which is a Barbadian psychological thriller about a disgruntled married couple and hitchhiker trapped in a gully during a tropical storm.
Soca Queen and International Federation of Business & Professional Women goodwill ambassador, Alison Hinds, who plays a prominent role in the movie, will attend the event and answer questions after the screening.