Almonte, Ontario – Head for Bridge St. in this little village in Lanark County, 50 km southwest of Ottawa, and for one day each August don’t be surprised if you find it closed and lined with 40 to 60 basketball nets. The sport basketball was invented by a local resident, James Naismith (Historica video), and for one day each summer the town holds a street competition. Naismith was born in Almonte in 1891 and taught physical education at McGill University in Montreal, then at the YMCA gymnasium of Springfield College, Massachusetts. He invented the game as a winter diversion for the young men at the ‘Y’, using a soccer ball, two peach baskets, and a set of 13 rules. For over a decade the balls were retrieved manually until open-ended nets were invented. The village’s Naismith Museum and Hall of Fame collection recently moved to its new location at the Mill of Kintail Conservation Area. It is open from 10.30 to 4.30 pm, until Thanksgiving.
The historic village of Almonte straddles Ontario’s Mississippi River. This is one of a number of heritage towns in Lanark County, a rural region of rolling countryside that starts at the western boundary of Ottawa. Visitors exploring the region can learn about maple syrup production, discover artisans studios, paddle the extensive waterways or relax at a spa. The Mill of Kintail Conservation Area is a 154-acre natural heritage site in the Ottawa Valley, 10 minutes from Almonte.
In the News: The typed rules for basketball, written by James Naismith in Dec. 1891, were auctioned in Dec. 2010. They had been owned by his family and were sold for $4 million US, with the money going to a children’s charity. The annual Naismith 3 on 3 Basketball Festival, which draws as many as 100 teams (rookie to 35 categories), takes place on the streets of Almonte on a Saturday in early August.
31-51 Clyde Street, Almonte, Lanark County, Ontario K0A 1A0, Canada