Posing with their bounty following Babe Ruth’s first hunting trip to Nova Scotia in 1935 are (left to right) Outdoor Life writer Bob Edge, Ruth and fellow hunter Jack Matthews (Photo: Yarmouth County Archives)

Baseball legend Babe Ruth loved fishing and hunting in Canada. This is the long-forgotten story of those adventures


The stadium at Hanlan’s Point, depicted in a vintage postcard (Photo: Public domain)


A little-known statistic that may break a few American hearts is that Babe Ruth didn’t hit his first professional home run in the U.S., but at Hanlan’s Point Stadium on Toronto’s Centre Island. He was a 19-year-old minor league rookie at the time, pitching for Rhode Island’s Providence Grays.

In the legendary 1914 game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, he pitched a one-hitter and hit three homers over the right-field fence, winning the International League game 9-0. A plaque near the site of the long-gone stadium commemorates the historic feat.


Prior to his pro ball career, Ruth’s first connection to Canada was a teacher he befriended while attending St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys in Baltimore, Maryland. A native of Cape Breton, Brother Matthais (born Martine Leo Boutlier) was credited with teaching Ruth everything he knew about baseball, as well as providing the future Hall of Famer with structure and mentorship. Ruth, who was described as being “incorrigible” at the time, would go on to call Matthais “the greatest man I’ve ever known.” It’s not a leap, then, to imagine Ruth’s later adventures in Nova Scotia were inspired by his beloved teacher.

The commemorative plaque on Hanlan’s Point (Photo: Alan L. Brown & Toronto Plaques)

One odd quirk of Ruth’s personality was his apparent penchant for fibbing about his personal connections to Canada. Most notably, he told everyone his first wife, Helen Woodford, was from Nova Scotia. She was actually from Boston, but Ruth’s white lie remains on the record both in print and online to this day. He would also tell people they were married in Montreal, when in fact they tied the knot in Ellicott City, Maryland. Apparently, it made him happy telling people about his supposed Canadian connections.

During one of his duck-hunting trips to Nova Scotia, Ruth even acquired a living memento of Canada, bringing home a Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever. It was said he was enamoured by the work ethic and personality of the breed.