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.
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
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.