Rough Riders - Canadian?

I’m pretty sure that most Americans would associate the term “Rough Riders” with Teddy Roosevelt, the Spanish-American War and the charge up San Juan Hill.

However, there have been two teams by that name in the Canadian Football League.

Obviously it’s a popular name in Canada as well. What’s the significance?

“Rough riders” was a phrase used to describe any group of people who specialized in riding horses in difficult situations.

It wouldn’t be surprising to find out that the phrase was used in Canada prior to 1898.

There’s only one “Roughriders” left in the CFL, the Saskatchewan franchise. The now defunct Ottawa team was the “Rough Riders”.


I’m aware of this. That’s why my question said (emphasis new):

However, there have been two teams by that name in the Canadian Football League.

Chaim Mattis Keller

The OED traces “Rough Riders” back to 1733. I suppose that the term was used frequently in Canada. Canada, like the U.S., has had a lot of involvement with horses in its development.

I posed this same question once to a Canadian friend and he didn’t think the nickname was at all unusual. As for two CFL franchises using variations of the name that probably occurred because the teams were founded at different times and then joined the CFL separately.

Many CFL franchises predate the founding of the CFL.

It always seemed clear whether a football fan was talking about the Saskatchewan or Ottawa team because it seemed that we pronounced it the Saskatchewan ROUGHriders vs. the Ottawa Rough RIDERS. And to reflect the one word vs. two, the Saskatchewan name seemed to be said faster than the Ottawa version.

Anyone else notice this? Or was the pronounciation more random than I seem to think.


From the Saskatchewan Roughriders Team History: [Warning - it’s a bit balky loading]

The original name of the team was the “Regina Rugby Club.”

Now, the explanation that there were actually Canadians in T.R.'s troops, and some went to Ottawa and some out west, sounds just too artificial to me - a post facto explanation to account for the two different teams with the same name. An alternative explanation which I have heard is that it was just that since Saskatchewan is due north of North Dakota and Montana, where T.R. gathered his troops, the name “Roughriders” was popularly known.

In other news: Green Bay lured Henry Burris away with filthy lucre :frowning:

Rough Riders is a term which I have used to describe Australian and New Zealand cavalry during the Boer War. This term describes mounted troops trained to use irregular tatics aginst gurillia forces. They were not regular troops and tended to have a reputation for brutal tatics (aka Breaker Morant, who was not the gentleman portrayed in the film).

One other point which I didn’t notice last night (it was late), is that if Ottawa had been using the term since the 1890’s, it pre-dated T.R.'s Roughriders, which casts additional doubt on the idea that it came from veterans of San Juan moving to Ottawa.

Also, I seem to remember that the “Rough Rider” in Ottawa had a different meaning, not connected to horses. Ottawa was a lumber town, and I think that “rough riders” there had some connexion with the lumber trade - riding the floats of logs down-river. But that’s dredging way back in my memory, so I could be wrong.

I associate that name with a brand of ribbed condoms.

In a similar vein, when the Ottawa Senators joined the NHL, there was some comment that their logo looked more appropriate for the Trojans.