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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Envisioning basketball: a socio-biographical investigation of Ruth Wilson - one of western Canada's sporting pioneers Job, Christiane


The history of women’s basketball in Canada has been influenced by key individuals who have challenged systemic barriers and social mores demanding appropriate female behaviors and activities. In this study I examine the sporting contributions of Vancouverite Ruth Wilson, whose involvements in the sport of women’s basketball from the mid 1930s through the 1960s was significant. Though several studies have highlighted the importance of women’s basketball in a North American context (Hall, 2002; Cahn, 1994; Kidd, 1996; Hult and Trekell, 1991), to date there has not been a significant examination of the development of basketball for women and its early advocates in western Canada. Celebrating heroines of sport is not a straightforward matter. The concept of the heroic, as Hargreaves points out, must be examined through an analysis of the struggles and achievements of many women whose stories have been excluded or forgotten from previous accounts of women’s sports and female heroism (Hargreaves, 2000). Thus my account of Ruth Wilson’s contributions provides a unique case study of one womans persistent and wide ranging efforts to change the ways in which girls and women participated in a sport which brought them freedom to compete, professional opportunities and in some cases, national status. This study employs several methodological techniques. Data was collected through primary and secondary document analysis in conjunction with semi-structured open ended interviews. Ruth Wilson’s contributions have been highlighted through the narratives of female sportswomen whom she mentored, assisted, befriended and coached and who are still living today to provide their memories about her role in changing the landscape of women’s basketball in Canada.

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