Western’s First Football Fields

Varsity Blues at UWO, circa 1947

This photograph from the 1940s clearly shows the boiler house (sometimes referred to as the power house) where players dressed before the construction of JW Little Memorial Stadium in 1929.

The earliest venues for Western’s rugby/football teams were improvised. When the university’s campus was located in London’s Old North neighbourhood, the football team played and practised where it could. Frequently Tecumseh Park (now Labatt Park), a baseball field, was used for games. In 1921, practices were held in the university’s off-campus gymnasium on Oxford Street, although it was normally reserved for indoor sports.

The lack of athletic facilities on campus was a constant irritant for the athletics program throughout the 1920s. With the relocation of the campus to its current location in 1924, the football team received a new field referred to as “the Oval.” This new home was considered one the best gridirons in Ontario and was eventually equipped with bleachers for 3,000 spectators. Still, players had to dress in the nearby boiler house. Make-do facilities remained a strong feature of Western football for two decades after the formation of the first organized rugby/football team.