American Football Database
Hamilton Wildcats
Founded 1941
Folded 1950 (Merged with Hamilton Tigers in 1950)
Based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Home field Civic Stadium
League Ontario Rugby Football Union
Interprovincial Rugby Football Union
Team History Hamilton Wildcats (1941-42)
Hamilton Flying Wildcats (1943-44)
Hamilton Wildcats (1945-49)
Team Colors Red, White


The Hamilton Wildcats were a Canadian football team based in Hamilton, Ontario that played in the Ontario Rugby Football Union from 1941 to 1947, and in the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union from 1948 to 1949. The team was formed to play in the ORFU in 1941 to fill the void left by the Hamilton Tigers, who ceased operations that year due to a large number of players joining the army.[1] In 1943 and 1944, the team assumed the name Hamilton Flying Wildcats to reflect the Royal Canadian Air Force personnel on the team.[1][2] After struggling to compete on a sound financial level with the Hamilton Tigers, who resumed operations following World War II, the two clubs merged in 1950 to form the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.[3]


Ontario Rugby Football Union

For many years, Hamilton had an unstable presence in the ORFU, with various teams folding and being renamed. In 1941, the city's IRFU team, the Hamilton Tigers, folded due to an large number of players leaving to fight in World War II. As such, this left a void in Hamilton's football, which would be filled that year by an ORFU team named the Hamilton Wildcats. The Wildcats were granted permission to use the Tigers' players, but not their colours, so they adopted the colours of red and white.[1]

Between 1942 and 1944, the IRFU suspended operations due to the war, leaving many talented players to join teams in the ORFU.[4] This led the Wildcats to a very successful three years in which they posted a 19-6-1 record with two appearances in the Grey Cup championship game with one win coming in 1943.[5] In the 1943 and 1944 seasons, the team is officially recognized as the Hamilton Flying Wildcats due to the RCAF personnel playing on the team.[2] Consequently, the team that won the 31st Grey Cup is recorded as the Hamilton Flying Wildcats.

After the war ended, the IRFU resumed operations and players that had played for the Tigers were returned to their club. The Wildcats dropped the "flying" from their nickname since the RCAF personnel no longer played for them. After a difficult season in 1945, which saw the club miss the playoffs, the Wildcats claimed back-to-back regular season first place finishes in 1946 and 1947, but lost in the ORFU finals both years.[6][7]

Interprovincial Rugby Football Union and merger

Due to monetary disputes that the Hamilton Tigers were having with the IRFU,[1] the Tigers transferred to the ORFU, with the Wildcats switching to the IRFU on April 9, 1948.[4] The switch proved to be difficult for the team, who went from first in the ORFU to dead last in the IRFU, with only one win in their two seasons in that league. Both teams were struggling to compete for fan support and the financial repercussions started to mount. As a result, local prominent citizens including Mr. Ralph W. Cooper, Mr. F.M. Gibson, Mr. C.C. Lawson and Mr. Sam Manson decided that the two clubs should amalgamate and operate as one entity. As such, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats football club began play in 1950 in the IRFU as the singular representative of the city of Hamilton.

Canadian Football Hall of Famers



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Hamilton Tiger-Cats
  2. 2.0 2.1 2009 Canadian Football League Facts, Figures & Records, Canadian Football League Properties/Publications, Toronto, Ontario, ISBN 978-0-9739425-4-5, p.292-293
  3. Tiger-Cats History
  4. 4.0 4.1 CFL Timeline 1940s
  5. HISTORY >> Grey Cup >> 1943
  6. 1946 Hamilton Wildcats (ORFU)
  7. 1947 Hamilton Wildcats (ORFU)