McGill Football Programmes, 1923-1939

McGill programmes are not entirely consistent, either in size or content in the interwar years. The earliest I have encountered are from 1923, which are really little more than glamourised lineup cards printed on slick paper with a few pages of lithographs added. (As McGill Archives' official index only goes back to that year, I don't expect to see much more than lineup sheets prior to that date, although there was likely a programme of some description for the track meet at which Molson Stadium was dedicated). By the end of the 1920s, the programmes had evolved to contain player biographies, short articles and beautiful multicolour artwork covers; however, the Depression forced the return to a scorecard format for five years. From 1935 to 1939, the programmes gradually returned to a quality comparable to those of a decade earlier.

In much of this era, Molson Stadium seated about 10,000 people, and could probably hold a few hundred standees (capacity was somewhat less in the early-to-mid 1920s). Given that students likely made up as much as half of the crowd, and were notorious for not buying programmes, one expects that programmes were printed for a virtual crowd of 5,000. Sales appear to have been of the order of one for every two spectators in the immediate post-war years, so I must assume that sales were of the same order before the war, perhaps slightly less at the height of the Depression. Thus, accounting for estimation errors, I would expect that between 2,000 and 4,000 copies were printed for each game. Considering factors such as wartime recycling programmes, the fact that as many as half were likely discarded immediately after the game, and the hazards of survival over more than sixty years, there are probably only a few hundred of each programme surviving from the 1930s, perhaps only 100-200 from some of the poorly-attended exhibition games of the 1920s. (Mind you, given the number of active collectors of Ontario-Quebec CIAU memorabilia--without any hint of cynicism, I'd say there are only a couple dozen or so that actively seek out such items--the supply still greatly exceeds demand. Programmes from future-CFL teams from that era are a rather different matter, as substantial ones from big games can command a few hundred dollars in the right circumstances.)

McGill generally did not alter its programme covers throughout a season. The illustrated covers thus serve as examples of the whole season, not just one game.


16 pages, magazine format, 26.5 cm x 20.0 cm

Little more than the playing lineups in the centrefold and a few pictures of McGill and visiting football players, in addition to photographs of other McGill teams and athletes. CIRFU playing rules summarised on inner back cover.


24 pages, magazine format, 17.5 cm x 25.5 cm

Contents generally contain a welcome to the visiting club, short biographies and a few photographs (and cartoons) of players on both teams, rosters. Queen's programme has a description of the alterations to the playing rules for 1927, in addition to a table of penalties. A small sheet was interted in the centrefold of each programme, soliciting season ticket sales for 1928; the bottom portion of the sheet contains a 1927 McGill schedule, which was updated with scores as the season progressed. (The inserts are rare, probably only a dozen or so surviving.)


4 pages, folded cardstock, 17.0 cm x 26.0 cm
Printed by Quality Press Ltd., Montreal

Interior pages contain team lineups and announcements of upcoming events. Lost and found articles from the previous game often included, as is a chart for keeping score. Advertisment on back cover. Scaled back substantially because of the Depression, for some reason these programmes are amongst the most commonly encountered of the pre-war Canadian football programmes. (Perhaps there were substantial numbers left unsold that have resurfaced.)


4 pages, folded cardstock, 17.0 cm x 26.0 cm
Printed by The Unity Press, Montreal

Same format as previous four seasons, just having a new cover design.


12 pages, magazine format, 17.5 cm x 25.5 cm

Little more useful content than 1930-1934, the contents generally running as follows:

Advertising (pp. 1-4)
McGill Lineup (p. 5)
Starting Lineups by position (pp. 6-7)
Visitors' Lineup (p. 8)
Advertising (pp. 9-12)
Penalty Signals (inside back cover)


20 pages, magasine format, 19.0 cm x 28.0 cm

Similar to the programmes of the previous year, only in a large format and also having a few photographs of the team and short pieces of football information (e.g. CIRFU rule changes). Still no biographies or articles. Covers the same as 1935, but black replaces blue.


24 pages, magazine format, 19.0 cm x 28.0 cm

Programmes contain rosters, summary of CIRFU year-to-date, article on visiting team, and a few photographs of McGill and visiting players and coaches.


20 pages, magazine format, 20.25 cm x 30.5 cm

Player biographies are printed on the inside front and back covers, while central four pages contain rosters, two or three short articles, and player photographs. Much of the remainder is advertising, althoug a few non-football bits are included (e.g. a general knowledge trivia quiz).

Last updated: 19 April 2000
This page maintained by Ian Speers
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