Restoring the World's Oldest Basketball Court in St. Stephen, New Brunswick

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Restoring the World's Oldest Basketball Court in St. Stephen, New Brunswick

A local non-profit group working towards restoring the world's oldest basketball court in St. Stephen has reached a major milestone in their fundraising efforts. Canada First Basketball Inc. has raised $1 million to buy two buildings on King Street, one of which was home to a YMCA at the end of the 19th century and still has the original hardwood floors of what is now believed to be the oldest existing basketball court in the world. The St. Stephen court pre-dates what was recently considered to be the oldest surviving court in Paris, France by two months. 

The first basketball game in the Maritimes was played on King Street in 1893, less than two years after Canadian James Naismith invented the sport at a YMCA in New England in 1891. In September 1893, a man named Lyman Archibald who had played in the first-ever basketball game organized by Naismith in Massachusetts was appointment the recreational director of the St. Stephen YMCA, bringing a sport invented by a Canadian across the border into the Maritimes. The first ever international game notably was played on the court when the a team from Calais, Maine played against local Charlotte County players on their home turf in 1893. 

Aside from being home to the local YMCA back at the turn of the century, the former basketball court building has been home to many businesses over the past 120 years, including Parsons Printing House and most recently the St. Croix Vocational Centre thrift store, which agreed to move to accommodate the restoration project. The basketball court was re-discovered on the second floor in 2010 after a small fire led to the removal of carpeting that unveiled the historic gem. The discovery ignited interest in restoring not just the original court but also reclaiming St. Stephen's place in the history of the sport.

For phase two of the restoration project, Canada First Basketball Inc. is now embarking on an ambitious $9 million fundraising effort to turn the two buildings on King Street into an experiential shrine to the sport, showcasing sports artifacts and memorabilia and celebrating Canada's place in basketball history. History buffs, sports fans, philanthropists and celebrities like Maestro Fresh Wes who recently paid a visit to the court continue to express interest in the project, suggesting that the phase 2 goal, while ambitious, will be a swoosh.


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Video Upload Date: January 19, 2022

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