The Encyclopedia of CFL History

Montreal Alouttes

Founded:  1946

Grey Cups Won:  7 (1949, 1970, 1974, 1977, 2002, 2009, 2010)
Grey Cups Lost: 11 (1954, 1955, 1956, 1975, 1978, 1979, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008)

All Time Roster

All time Coaches and GM Listing

Official Website

Team Photos
1947(JPEG) 1947(PDF) 1948(PDF) 1949a(PDF) 1949b(PDF) 1951(PDF) 1952(PDF)  1954(JPEG) 1954a(PDF) 195b2(PDF) 1956(PDF)     1958(JPEG)  1959a(JPEG) 1959b(JPEG1963(JPEG) 1964(JPEG) 1965(JPEG) (Names-PDF)  1970(JPEG)  1974(JPEG)1979(PDF)

Team History

While the Alouettes were only founded in 1946, football in Montreal goes back much farther than that.

The Early Years and the Winged Wheelers (1861-1935)
The first documented football game in Quebec and Montreal was on October 10, 1868 (the earliest outside Quebec was in 1861).  The game was played between English soldiers garrisoned in Montreal and a team of civilians, many from McGill University.  The game was played at the Ste. Catherine Cricket Grounds.  Shortly after, in 1873, the Montreal Football Club (Montreal F.C.) was formed.  The Montreal F.C. was based out of the Montreal AAA (Amateur Athletic Club) and while there was no formal league play at that time, the Montreal F.C. is recorded as having won the Montreal Challenge Cup against the Quebec F.C. in 1873 and 1874.  The team acquired the name Montreal Winged Wheelers by 1881 and played under that name for until 1935.  The Winged Wheelers were part of the QRFU (Quebec Rugby Football Union) until 1907 when the IRFU (Interprovincial Rugby Football Union) was formed.  The IRFU was often referred to as the Big Four and besides the Winged Wheelers consisted of the Toronto Argonauts, Hamilton Tigers and the Ottawa Rough Riders.  The Winged Wheelers remained in the IRFU through the 1935 season.  In 1931, the Montreal Winged Wheelers became the first team not from Ontario to win the Grey Cup when they defeated the Regina Roughriders 22-0 in a game played in Montreal.

Post Wheelers and Pre Alouettes (1936-1945)
After the Winged Wheelers, there were a succession of short lived teams and names playing in the IRFU, ORFU and QRFU.  Of course, World War II was happening and the IRFU suspended play for three years from 1942 to 1944.  The various teams from this era are listed in the following table.  It was not uncommon for players to have played for several of these teams during this time.

Year Name Comments
1936 Montreal Indians IRFU  
1937 Montreal Indians IRFU  
1938 Montreal Cubs IRFU
Montreal Nationals ORFU
1939 Montreal Royals IRFU
Montreal Westmounts ORFU
There was also a minor league baseball team called the Royals, famous for being where Jackie Robinson started his pro career. The warm (by most) reception to Robinson was part of the inspiration for Lew Hayman in 1946 to import the first black player to the IRFU in Herb Trawick. The Nationals of the ORFU relocated to Westmount Athletic Grounds and became the Montreal Westmount Nationals or simply Westmounts.
1940 Montreal F.C. IRFU There were not enough top quality players and fans in Montreal to sustain two senior teams and in the end, both the Royals and Westmount Nationals folded.  An emergancy replacement team was created with $16,000 in funding from John Prtichard which went largely went to pay off the debts of the previous teams.  The team, was formed mainly by players from the Royals and the Westmounts.  The 1940 team went simply by the name Montreal F.C., but adopted the nickname Bulldogs in 1941.  At least part of the hasty formation of the team was to keep Toronto Balmy Beach from taking their place in the Big Four.
1941 Montreal Bulldogs IRFU  
1943 Montreal Navy St. HD QRFU  
1944 Montreal Navy St. HD QRFU The navy team won the Grey Cup in 1944, beating the Hamilton Wildcats of the ORFU 7-6. Here are the lineups for the two teams.
1945 Montreal Hornets IRFU With the war over and IRFU resuming play, the Montreal Hornets were hastily formed.  The team would last only one year and would be replaed by the Alouettes in 1946.  Read the full story on the Hornets.

The Alouettes Are Formed and the Etcheverry Years (1946 - 1960)
The modern era of football begain in Montreal in 1946 when Lew Heyman, Leo Dandurand and Eric Cradock formed the Montreal Alouettes and joined the IRFU.  The Montreal Alouttes won thei rfirst Grey Cup in 1949, defeating Calgary 28-15 in a game played in Toronto.  1952 saw the arrival of HOF Quarterback Sam "The Rifle" Etcheverry who along with outstanding receivers such as Hal Patterson and Red O'Quinn ignited a passing attack unlike anything the CFL had seen to that time and would not see again unti lthe late 1960s when the pass would finally start to dominate CFL offensive thinking.  Unfortunately for Etcheverry and the Alouttes, their passing attack lost three straight Grey Cups in 1954-56 to the run dominated, ball control offense of the Edmonton Eskimos led by Jackier Parker, Normie Kwong and Johnny Bright.  When the Alouttes attempted to trade Etcheverry and Patterson to Hamilton for another HOF Quarterback in Bernie Faloney, Etcheverry (and the courts) deamed his contract to have been violated and he went South to play in the NFL.

The Lean 60s and the Revival of the 70s
The loss of Etcheverry and Patterson seemed to mark the start of a tailspin for the Alouettes.  For the most part, the 1960s were a fairly dismal time in Aloutte history as they generally dueled with Toronto for last placel.  Things began to perk up in 1970 with the arrival of another all-time great Alouette Quarterback in the form of Jesse (Sonny) Wade.  There was also a change in the team ownership at that time with Sam Berger taking over and bringing in the familiar duo of Sam Etcheverry (Head Coach) and Red O' Quinn (GM) returning to run the team. The 1970s were much kinder to the Alouttes as they wond three Grey Cups in 1970, 1974 and 1977. The latter two wins were over the Edmonton Eskimos and in total the two clubs met no less than five times in the 1970s. The Aloutttes lost in the Grey Cup to Edmonton in 1975, 1978 and 1979.

The 1970s were heady years for the Montreal Alouttes as they signed well known imports such as Johnny Rodgers.  Besides the six Grey Cup appearances and three wins, they had a brand new stadium to play in after 1976 when Olymic Stadium or the "Big O" was builti for the 1976 summer olymics.  This was the first domed stadium in the CFL and only the Houston Oilers of the NFL in the Astrodome had one before Montreal.

The 1980s - Name Changes and the Folding of the Alouettes
Things started to fall apart both off the field with ownership and on the field for Montreal in the 1980s.  Strangely enough, some of the problems in Montreal were due to the new Olympic Stadium.  It was a huge building and not well designed for watching football.  In order to try and fill it, Montreal went looking for big name American players to try and attract fans in large numbers.  The big name signings started in the late 70s with guys like Tom Cousineau (1979), but 1981 perhaps best typifies the time.  The Alouettes were bought by the flamboyant Nelson Skalbania (owner of the NHL Calgary Flames at the time) and signed big names such as Vince Ferragamo, Billy (White Shoes) Johnson, James Scott and David Overstreet.  The Alouettes went 3-13 that season.  Things continued to get worse and the team even underwent a temporary name change to the Montreal Concordes from 1982 to 1985.  In 1986, the Alouettes name was restored, but it was too little, too late and just prior to the 1987 season, the Montreal Alouttes were forced to fold and their players dispersed in a draft.

Rebirth (1996-) and the Return of the Glory Years
The return or rebirth of the Montreal Alouttes started in an unlikely way in 1993 when the CFL expanded to the United States, with the first team going to Sacremento.  Other CFL franchises in the U.S. followed in 1994, including a team in Baltimore.  The Maryland city was starved for football after the departure of the NFL Colts to Indianapolis.  Indeed, the idea initially was to name the Baltimore team the Colts, but that plan had to be scrapped when legal action was threatened. With their name in limbo, the Baltimore club was referred to for one season simply as the Baltimore Football Club and then for one year as the Baltimore Stallions. When the American teams folded after the 1995 season, in which the Baltimore Stallions won the Grey Cup, the players were dispersed in a draft except for those with Baltimore.  The Baltimore franchise was moved to Montreal, and in 1996, the Montreal Alouttes were reborn.  A figure that has to be mentioned in the context of the return of the Alouttes is Larry Smith.  Smith was a former running back for the Alouttes during the glory years in the 1970s and then as CFL commishioner, Smith was the driving force behind the American expansion, and afterwards became the President of the reborn Montreal Alouttes.

The Alouettes return to Montreal was a success both on the field and with the fans.  The latter, is often attributed to what seemed like a major problem at the time.  When the Als returned to Montreal, they were playing out of Olymic Statium again and struggling to connect with the fans in the cavernous building.  On November 2, 1997, the Alouttes were scheduled to play a playoff game, but Olympic Statium was booked for a rock concert by U2.  The Als were forced to relocate to the smaller Percy Molson Stadium at McGill University. This was really a return to their roots, since the Als had played there for 16 years, starting in 1952 with the arrival of Sam Etcheverry.  The more intimate confines of Molson Statdium helped put the Alouttes in touch with their fan base again and started a long string of sold out games.  On the field, Montreal was once again led by an oustanding Quarterback.  After initially serving an apprenticeship under Tracy Ham, who had been the QB in Baltimore, Anthony Calvillo took over the starting job and has become one of the top passing quartebacks in CFL history.  Since thei return in 1996, the Alouttes have been to seven Grey Cups (as of 2009) winning in 2002 and 2009 with losses in 200, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2008).