UBC Intramurals History 1935 – 1970

Written By: Fred Hume, Historian, UBC Athletics and Recreation

It was organized in the spring of 2015 by Intramural/Recreation alumni – some of whom date back 50 years – and was inspired by Nestor Korchinsky and his team. That being a reunion of those who were not only associated with Intramurals but who lived the experience and passion of this UBC program. As it happens, 2015 is the 80th anniversary of UBC Intramurals and it was this Legacy Alumni Reunion that seemed to inspire a look back at the history – an overview at least – of Intramurals at UBC.
During UBC’s first twenty years campus interclass competitions provided the competitive outlet for those non-varsity athletes. But as the university evolved it needed something more. In the fall of 1935 UBC took the big step and launched its official Intramurals program. So, it was at noon November 1, 1935 the first Intramural contests were played . . . those being men’s soccer, basketball and rugby. UBC’s first and brand-new “Athletic directors,” Maury Van Vliet and Gertrude Moore, would for the next 10 years be responsible for organizing, directing and promoting this newly formed program. Van Vliet really deserves credit for launching intramurals . . . (he) “aroused spirit and enthusiasm for these events,” even keeping the statistics all the while coaching several UBC Varsity sports teams.
During the war years 1939 – 1944 the change in priorities and the overall war effort on campus resulted in Varsity sports taking a significantly lower profile. Yet there was a growing desire for physical fitness led in large part by Van Vliet and Moore. As a result it was Intramurals that during these years became the important provider of opportunities for both male and female students to fill their conditioning and recreational needs.
By October 1946 Maury Van Vliet had left UBC to commence his storied career at the University of Alberta while a similar career was being launched here with the selection of Bob Osborne as the director of UBC’s newly formed Department of Physical Education which included overseeing the Intramural program. Through the next 20 years Intramurals under the direction of Ivor Wynne, Dick Penn and Bob Hindmarch thrived with a myriad of sports available, many teams, clubs and fraternities participating and several high profile athletes competing. A 1960s report stated approximately 40% of UBC students were participating in over 20 Intramural sports in venues such as War Memorial Gym, The University Golf Course, Empire Pool, Winter Sports Centre and Varsity Stadium.
The 1960s closed out with Intramurals under the direction of a younger corps; Dick Ramsay, Bill McNulty, R.A. Lancaster and G.E. Cameron. Perhaps unknown at the time however was that the program remained poised and ready for a new regime, a renaissance of sorts and the promise to be the most admired Intramural program in the land