In February of 1996, just prior to the Reading Week at University of Alberta in the city of Edmonton, in the midst of the midterm week mayhem, a small and plain website was about to kick off. After about a week of running up and down between the labs in the old U of A EE building, with the expertly HTML advices of Sachin Gandhi, another avid soccer fan now residing in Calgary, the html tags were put together and the website of the Voyageurs kicked off!
It's title was "Team Canada's Supporters Club" and underneath the following few lines appeared:
"It's been banned by monarchs! "
"It's been blamed for wars!"
"And it's been used to make peace and unify people!"
"One World, One Game, Live the Game!"
Somehow soccer fans from across Canada found this hidden site on the net, and Marc Dowdell (Edmonton), John Mark Mikhail (Edmonton), Jeff McKenzie (Fort McMurray), Martin Rose (Vancouver), Bob Anderson (Edmonton), David Bailey (Toronto), Marco Luciani (Toronto), Gerardo Vecchiato (Toronto), and Dave Assaf (NB) became its first few members who were to be joined by handful of other diehards.
In April of 1996, a vote was taken between the few members of then name-less fan club and from a range of names, including Red Army, Canuck Brigade and Voyageurs and three others, the name Voyageurs, which was proposed by Martin Rose of Vancouver, was selected.
The name, Voyageurs, was deemed perfect. It was both English and French, representing the bilingual nature of Canada. It also had a historical root in Canada and it represented the long and tough road that soccer fans in Canada must take upon to reach their goal.
The Voyageurs made their official debut at Commonwealth stadium on August 30th, 1996, when Canada took upon Panama to start the qualifying campaign for 1998 World Cup. After weeks of running around, thanks to the efforts of some local fans plus the arrival of Jeff Mckenzie of Fort McMurray and Eric Malo of Calgary, and the assistance of Mike Chow of Recreational Sports Center of U of A and Mehrdad Masoudi of CSA, a group of 40 fans gathered. The Fort Edmonton Voyageurs armour consisted of two banners, one the black and white Voyageurs banner, developed by a pair of Brazilian Exchange Students and their host, our own John Mark. The other banner, is non other than the checkered banner which has found its way into many Canadian venues, thanks to the efforts of little Leyla Asadi and the Reza's mother's sewing :-) A pair of drums were also expertly borrowed from Canada's #1 Female University soccer team, University of Alberta Pandas.
The Voyageurs then continued to appear in almost all matches played in Edmonton including the Cuba, Costa Rica and Mexico qualifying matches played in Edmonton ,the weekend match of 1999 Canada Cup of Soccer against Ecuador and the 2000 T&T qualifying match.
In 1997, the Voyageurs website took a whole new shape thanks to the efforts of John Mark Mikhail. The grayish colored site was replaced with a predominantly red and white page, which looked sharp and sexy by 1997 internet standards. With Voyageurs, temporarily gaining the status of a university club, their website address was moved to www.ualberta.ca/~voyage
In 1998, the Voyageurs took upon the challenge of a petition to raise the issue of ********** in the media. Though at the end their attempt was a failure, they did eventually manage to draw media attention to Calgary soccer star!
In 1998, also as a small token of their appreciation, the Voyageurs began their Christmas Card tradition for all players of the senior national teams. The first set of cards, were all personalized and were approved by non other than Calgary's Ed Swain, a member of Super Senior Voyageurs in the middle of Chinook Center in Calgary and sent out with the addresses gathered by a number of people to their club addresses.
In addition, in May of 1999, with the help of Marc Peverini, the Voyageurs and Canadian SoccerNet websites joined one another and formed the new URL, www.canadian-soccer.com
and thus our site moved to a more realistic address! Also around the same time, with the help of Patrick Whalen of Coquitlam, BC and a number of fans and soccer clubs around the country, the Voyageurs managed to send out a set of shirts autographed by young soccer players from across the country to Canada's Women's team, prior to USA'99.
In 2000, the Voyageurs broke into Toronto and Canada's supporters finally united to show up for two great showings against Trinidad and Tobago and Mexico in Toronto. The Toronto Ultras popped into the scene thanks to the efforts of so many Toronto soccer fans including non other than, Mirza and Sea and Behrouz and others. We all know that the Toronto soccer scene will never be the same now!
Just around the same time, Fort Victoria Voyageurs kicked off with the help of Ted Godwin, Drew Shaw(a.k.a MCM) and the rest of Company. FVV made its national debut when Canada's U-20 won its qualifying group in March of 2001.
It's been a long and winding road, but in small steps, we have come a long way! And with your help, we look forward to moving further and higher and writing more history in the years to come, right across Canada!
So, in the name of passion, let The Tradition Continue!