History of Pickleball in Canada – by Chuck LeFaive

Date: January 24 , 2012


Less than a dozen people started pickleball in Canada. They were spread out from Toronto to Vancouver and, as you might expect, with the pickleball explosion in the US, they were mainly snowbirds. When they returned to Canada, they started small programs whose attendance fluctuated with their arrival and departure.

Among these early pioneers were the following:

  • SJ Lehmann — from Bowser, BC ??? Silver and Gold medalist at the 2011 US Nationals
  • Carol Haworth ??? from Chilliwack, BC ??? Bronze medalist at the 2011 US Nationals
  • Ed Brennan ??? from N Delta, BC — former USAPA ambassador who now runs a church program
  • Tony Sequeira ??? from Toronto, Ont ??? who with his brother started a couple of programs over ten years ago
  • Bill Franzman ??? from Kelowna, BC — who carried on the work of SJ Lehmann in the Okanagan as well as initiated www.okpickleball.ca, the first Canadian supply website
  • Sharon Sinclair (Joey) ??? from Victoria, BC ??? who operated a small program in the summer
  • Bev Butt and Gail Stakiw ??? from Regina, Sask — who carved out a piece of Regina
  • Ken Biberdorf ??? from Manitoba ??? who pioneered Pickleball in Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Earl Hill — former resident of Canada, and a USAPA board member ??? who travelled between Regina, the Okanagan, and the West Coast from North Vancouver to Seattle encouraging the sport in each location on the way.

My involvement in this sport began in March, 2005 in Canyon Lake, Texas. The next three years were taken up with appointments first as Ambassador, Ambassador-at-large, and Regional Ambassador for the USAPA, replacing Bill Franzman as he wished to retire. Each appointment was for 1 year.

Then some players asked for the creation of an independent Canadian National Pickleball Association. This was initiated by myself on April 25th 2009 at the Spring Okanagan tournament. By this time, I had already recruited Wayne Roswell from Port Perry, Ontario, Marcel Lemieux from Mirabel, Quebec, Bill Furse from Collingwood, Ontario and Bev Butt from Regina, Saskatchewan as founding members to assist in starting this sport in Canada. This gave this new association Pickleball Canada a national flavor. The website was named www.pickleballCanada.org. I assumed the title Founding Director. At that time, as Bill Franzman wished to retire, I purchased www.okpickleball.ca and its stock from him to ensure that a Canadian internet supply chain would be maintained in Canada.

During the first year programs proliferated all across Canada and especially in BC. The website was financed from donations of teaching stipends earned by senior volunteers helping to teach students and recreation center staff and courses. Registration fees also helped.

Before the first anniversary of the birth of Pickleball Canada, a search for volunteer directors took place, to form a board which would appoint its own executive. It achieved that in May 2010 .

They were:
Bill Canning, Alta ??? President
Marcel Lemieux, Que. ???Vice-President
Christine Perras, BC — Treasurer,
and Garth Merkley, Man ??? Secretary.

For its first year and seven months of operation, the Pickleball Canada Mission Statement under ???rules??? stated all players and all paddles are welcome in all play and all tournaments in Canada.??? This statement was based on empiric data that pointed to all paddles being safe, (in spite of the deflection test data). Prior to Feb 2009, all equipment used in Canada was purchased through US sources.

Brent Johner had offered to host the first Canadian National Tournament in Calgary in July, 2011 and his offer was accepted by the sitting board.

In Feb., 2011, at its first meeting in Surprise, Arizona, this board reversed the mission statement above by adopting the USAPA / IFP rules thereby denying Canadian and Calgarian players the use of the paddle they had purchased in good faith in Canada???s first National Tournament. This Tournament took place under the auspices of Alberta Pickleball of which the National Host was the President.

Subsequently, the Canadian Pickleball Federation, www.Canadapickelball.ca was formed and officially registered federally.
1) PB Alberta,
2) the BC Pickleball Assocation, www.bcpickleball.com,
3) PB Quebec, www.pickleballQuebec.ca,
4) and the World Pickleball Federation www.worldpickleballfederation.com are affiliated with this group.

These organizations have all accepted the badminton court as legal, support the innovation of third generation paddles, and recommend proper court shoes and protective eye wear.

Currently, to join BC Pickleball, www.bcpickleball.com there is no fee. BC Pickleball Association, like the Canadian Pickleball Federation, also enshrines the right of players to choose and use the paddle that suits them best. BC now has 107 programs of which ONLY ONE was started by Pickleball Canada.org members.

Multiple programs abound in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.

I hope this helps put some things in perspective as many have asked for clarity on this topic. Many new players would like a GPS to navigate the PICKLE LANDSCAPE.

The last thing that I would want is to have this sport divided along commercial lines designed to protect domestic markets. We welcome all graphite paddles manufactured in Seattle, do we not?

Yours in Sport and Health,
Chuck Lefaive, Founding Director
BC Pickleball Association
ph ??? 604-536-9602

About Kathy

Retired, Snowbird, proud grandmother of 4 grandchildren under the age of 3 years.... Shuswap is second home in the summer months -- White Rock is primary home in the summer months. Winter is spend down south in Sun Lakes, AZ. So happy to be retired so that I can use my time to help with worthy causes like pickleball. This is amazing for everyone, but dooable for those that don't want to cause themselves damage in the latter years!! Love the sport.

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