History of the Maritime Football League
Canadian Rules Tackle Football games were first played in the Maritimes in Halifax in 1941 during the Second World War by teams from the military. Throughout the 1940's and early 1950's the Stadacona Sailors and the Shearwater Flyers were the influential Canadian Football teams in the region.
Leagues that operated included the Halifax City Canadian Football
League (1947-1950), the Nova Scotia Canadian Football League
(1951-1959), the Nova Scotia Junior Canadian Football League
(1953-1959), the New Brunswick (Intermediate) Football League (circa
1949-1962), the Maritime (Junior) Intercollegiate Football League
(1958-59) and the two-tiered Atlantic Football Conference (1960-1964).
These leagues typically consisted of university, military and
community teams playing at the intermediate and junior levels of
During the 1950's there was usually a game for the Maritime
Championship. In 1952, playing in Halifax, the Shearwater Flyers beat St. Thomas College
Tommies of Chatham 14-6 in the first Maritime championship game. The
Tommies star player was Joey George. In 1953 UNB and Dalhouse played for the title.
In 1956 the Greenwood Bombers beat Mount Allison 54-13 in the championship game.
In 1957 the Shearwater Flyers pounded Mount A 40-18 in a game played in
Subsequent to this the universities became the main growth area for the game.
The Atlantic Bowl game was inaugurated in 1956 to give the
best team from the region a chance to compete against a top team from
Central Canada. In 1956 the Hamilton Juniors defeated Greenwood Bombers
21-7. In 1957 the Shearwater Flyers got by the Brantford Tiger-Cats
12-7. In 1958 the Fort William Redskins blanked the St. Francis
Xavier University X-Men 10-0 in the last Atlantic Bowl to include a
By 1962 the "A" section included Dalhousie, Mount Allison, UNB, St. F.X., Acadia, St. Mary's, St. Dunstan's, Shearwater and Stadacona. The "B" section became a three team Junior Varsity league that included JV Squads from Saint Mary's and St. F.X. as well as Xavier Junior College (now Cape Breton University).
In 1965, the Bluenose Football Conference came into being with league membership restricted to the seven university varsity football teams located in the Maritime provinces which were members of the Maritime Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA), later called the Atlantic Universities Athletic Association and today known as Atlantic University Sport.
The non-university teams stayed together in the Atlantic Football
Conference from 1965 until 1967. That league included the Halifax
Buccaneers, Dartmouth Vikings, Saint John-Lancaster Ti-Cats and the
Marcom Flyers. Marcom stood for Maritime Command. The team was an
amalgamation of the Stadacona Sailors and Shearwater Flyers. The Flyers
won the Purdy Cup each of those last three years. This league
played four down Canadian Rules football.
In 2001 Terry McIntyre, Mike Upward and Mark Crandall
Brunswick Senior Football League. In its first year the N.B.S.F.L. consisted
of the Saint John Wanderers, Capital Area Gladiators and Moncton Maroonz.
All three teams met in the same location each weekend and played
shortened games against one another. The Gladiators won the first
championship 9-1 over the Wanderers and in so doing laid claim to the
resurrected Burchill Trophy. This
league played ten aside, four down Canadian Rules football.
In 2005 the Riverview Mustangs
and Saint John Longhorns formed teams, bringing the total number of
franchises in New Brunswick to six. A decision was made to bring all
nine teams into one league and call it the Maritime Football League.
The six New Brunswick teams were grouped in the New Brunswick
Football Conference and the three Nova Scotia-P.E.I. teams were put
in the Eastern Football Conference. The Saint John Wanderers
defeated the Dartmouth Knights 28-18 in Maritime Bowl IV. Teams
played ten aside, four down Canadian Rules football.
In 2010 the number of teams in the league
dropped from eight to six. The Moncton Marshals informed the league at
the AGM that they would not be operating in 2010. The Saint John
Longhorns were absorbed by the Saint John Wanderers just before the
season started. While the contraction was perceived as painful, in
reality the expansion of the fall Atlantic Football League to five teams
meant that the amount of football being played at the post high school
level remained at least as high as in the past. On the plus side the
sport had segmented itself into two leagues catering to different
markets. Also, taking into account population, a six team MFL is more
realistic and more sustainable in the long run.
In 2011 the league started the season with six teams. By Week 7 the P.E.I. Privateers discontinued operations due to a lack of players. The Dartmouth Knights won Maritime Bowl X with a thrilling 14-13 victory over the Moncton Mustangs. However, the Dartmouth team failed to pay $1,800 of its league fees. Consequently no champion was recognized by the league for 2011. The All-Star Game was discontinued.
In 2012 four teams answered the bell for the start of the season. The Halifax Shockers won Maritime Bowl XI with a convincing 45-6 victory over the previously unbeaten Saint John Wanderers. With only one team outside New Brunswick in the league the EFC Cup was discontinued.
In 2013 the league returned to playing all of its games 10 aside. The P.E.I. Privateers came back into the MFL after a two year absence and impressed everybody by finishing second during the regular season. The Saint John Wanderers won their first league championship since 2006 by beating the Halifax Shockers 49-20 in Maritime Bowl XII.
In 2014 the league took the unprecedented step of declaring the Halifax Shockers NOT IN GOOD STANDING. Continual problems collecting league fees, forfeited road games and discipline issues lead to the decision. A new group presented itself to the league with the intention of putting together something in Halifax for the 2015 season. The Saint John Wanderers won their second league championship in a row by beating the Capital Area Gladiators 48-7 in Maritime Bowl XIII.
In 2015 the league accepted the Nova Scotia Buccaneers from Halifax as a new franchise. In their first year of existence the Bucs made it all the way to the league final. The Saint John Wanderers won their third league championship in a row by beating the Buccaneers 36-29 in Maritime Bowl XIV.
In 2016 the league operated with five teams. The Saint John Wanderers won their fourth league championship in a row by beating the Moncton Mustangs 47-21 in Maritime Bowl XV.
The 2017 season began on a sad note. One of the original teams when the league began in 2001, the Capital Area Gladiators, ceased operations due to a shortage of players. On the positive side, the P.E.I. Privateers changed their management team and changed the team name to the Island Mariners. This resulted in a new sponsor, new game jerseys and an increased number of players on the roster. The season had its struggles. The Buccaneers forfeited two road games and the Islanders one. However both teams did meet their league obligations by fielding squads for road semi-final games. The Moncton Mustangs spoiled the Saint John Wanderers quest for a record fifth championship in a row with a convincing 43-23 victory in Maritime Bowl XVI.