Operated 1907 — Jan. 22, 1956
The Inter-provincial Rugby Football Union was formed in 1907 as the premier football union for Ontario and Quebec. Known as the “Big Four”, the IRFU consisted of original members the Montreal AAA (Amateur Athletic Association) Football Club, Ottawas (the Rough Riders), Hamilton Tigers and Toronto Argonauts.
Suspended for the First World War (1916-1918) and Second World War (1941-1944), the IRFU was briefly superseded by the ERFU for a single season in 1941 when Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Balmy Beach from the ORFU joined together. A new league was formed since Toronto did not want to grant Balmy Beach membership into the IRFU for fear it would be permanent. For the remainder of the war period, senior football was played by senior teams in new service or existing provincial leagues.
Following the Second World War, a new Montreal franchise in 1946 named the Alouettes replaced the Montreal AAA squad that had undergone many name changes. The Hamilton clubs of the Tigers and Wildcats merged into the Tiger-Cats in 1950 to join Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. The IRFU banded with the WIFU to form the CFC in 1956 and later the CFL in 1958. It maintained itself as a division under these leagues with much autonomy until 1960, when it was renamed the Eastern Football Conference. The EFC operated underneath the league until 1981 when it was dissolved and became the East Division and control of all matters succeeded to the league level.