In the spring of 1951, Freddie Miller and David Floyer, formerly of the Toronto Wanderers and McGill University rugby clubs respectively, met at the Bytown Inn to discuss starting a rugby club in Ottawa.
On October 20, 1951, the Bytown Beavers Rugby Football Club played their first game against Westmount from Montreal at Ashbury College. The Beavers played three more games in 1951, marking the beginning of an era of rugby in Ottawa. The Beavers went on to field a team in 1952, joining the Ontario Rugby Union and playing 7 games against teams from Toronto, Montreal and the United States.
The Beavers remained members of the ORU until 1956, when the club decided to join the Quebec Rugby Union to cut down on travel. The club continued to grow, and by 1959 was often fielding 5 teams. That year the club officially became known as the Ottawa Beavers and the club colours changed from black and amber to red and white.
During the 1950s, the Beavers placed 13 players on the Quebec provincial team. In the early 1960s, the popularity of rugby in Ottawa increased and the Beavers decided other Ottawa clubs should be formed to further enhance rugby and allow players a greater opportunity to play. Members of the Beavers split away from the club to form the Ottawa Ospreys Rugby Football Club in 1962, the Ottawa Irish Rugby Club in 1963 and the Bytown Blues Rugby Football Club in 1971. The first game between two Ottawa clubs took place in September 1962, with the Beavers defeating the Ospreys 6-3.
Both on and off the field, the Beavers had cleared the path for rugby in Ottawa not only to survive, but flourish.
In the 60s and 70s, the Beavers enjoyed great success on the field. In the 60s, the Beavers placed 2 players on the Eastern Canadian Team and 13 players on the Quebec provincial team. In 1966, the Beavers undertook their first major tour to Bermuda and continued to be the dominant club in Ottawa capturing the Quebec Senior Cup Championship. In the 70s, the Beavers became one of the most formidable clubs in Eastern Canada. The club placed 13 players on the Quebec provincial team, 3 on the Eastern Canadian Team and 2 were selected to play for Canada. The club won the Quebec League Championship in 1972, 1973 and 1974 and became Eastern Canadian Champions winning the Carling Cup in 1972. 1977 turned out to be one of the most successful years for the Beavers, with a record of 13-0, the club won the Quebec League for the fourth time in six years and again went on to win the Carling Cup. In 1979, the Beavers and all other Ottawa clubs were forced to leave the Quebec Rugby Union and join the Ontario Rugby Union due to the election of a separatist government in Quebec.
In the 70s and 80s, the Beavers also contributed administratively to the growth of rugby in Eastern Canada, placing members on the boards of the Eastern Ontario, Ontario and Canadian Rugby Unions. Beavers members were also driving forces behind the development and foundation of Twin Elm Rugby Park in 1976. In the 1980s, the Beavers participated in the Ontario League, while still being represented on provincial and national teams, there was a steady decline in the club’s fortunes.
In the 1990s, the club participated in the Ontario League and the Hart League with moderate success. The late 90s proved to be a low point for the club, top players began to retire from rugby and younger players had not been recruited to fill positions. The club suffered both on and off the field. However, with the election of a new executive in 1999, the club began to get itself in order administratively and has seen a resulting improved on-field performance in recent years.
In 2001, the Beavers participated in the Ontario League for the first time in several years and made it to the Intermediate Cup Championship. It was at this time that the club amalgamate with the Ottawa Banshees Women’s Rugby Club forming the Ottawa Beavers-Banshees Rugby Football Club for the 2002 season.
The rebuilding efforts of the club culminated in an appearance in the Marshall Cup final in 2005 and Marshall Cup Championship in 2006. Currently the Ottawa Beavers play in the FRQ Men’s Division.
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