HallJacket.inddMuscle on Wheels: Louise Armaindo and the High-Wheel Racers of Nineteenth-Century America (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2018)

The majestic high-wheel bicycle, with its spider wheels and rubber tires, emerged in the mid-1870s as the standard bicycle. A common misconception is that, bound by Victorian dress and decorum, women were unable to ride it, only taking up cycling in the 1880s with the advent of the chain-driven safety bicycle. On the contrary, women had been riding and even racing some form of the bicycle since the first vélocipèdes appeared in Europe early in the nineteenth century.

Challenging the understanding that bicycling was a purely masculine sport throughout the nineteenth century, Muscle on Wheels tells the story of women’s high-wheel racing in North America in the 1880s and early 1890s, with a focus on a particular cyclist: Louise Armaindo (1857–1900). Among Canada’s first women professional athletes and the first woman who was truly successful as a high-wheel racer, Armaindo began her career as a strongwoman and trapeze artist in Chicago in the 1870s before discovering high-wheel bicycle racing. Initially she competed against men, but as more women took up the sport, she raced them too. Although Armaindo is the star of Muscle on Wheels, the book is also about other women cyclists and the many men – racers, managers, trainers, agents, bookmakers, sport administrators, and editors of influential cycling magazines – who controlled the sport, especially in the United States.

The story of working-class Victorian women who earned a living through their athletic talent, Muscle on Wheels showcases an exciting moment in women’s and athletic history that is often forgotten or misconstrued.”

Some Reviews:

In reading M. Ann Hall’s fascinating biography of Quebec-born professional cyclist Louise Armaindo, one can’t help wondering what other remarkable stories of athleticism have been downplayed, ridiculed, or outright ignored over the past century. Despite the fact that a 1922 newspaper columnist declared Armaindo the greatest woman athlete who ever lived, gifted with a physical strength that could overpower most men, her accomplishments remain an historical footnote. This oversight becomes more curious when Hall reveals movie-worthy details from Armaindo’s life, pieced together through years of meticulous research. (Quill & Quire, July 30, 2018)

This engaging book tells the amazing story of a French-Canadian women and 20 other women who were professional cyclists in the late 19th century. . . . Because these athletes adopted stage names and fabricated their biographies, exhaustive research was required to find accurate information about them. Despite these challenges, Ann Hall extracted the best evidence available to document an extraordinary woman’s career. (Herizons, Winter 2019)

Hall’s research offers the most detailed portrait of a woman whose name has been featuring in books about cycling, women’s sport, and sport in Canada for many years. For most of that time Armaindo has just been a ghost image, known – sometimes inaccurately – for one or two feats, the context of those feats, and of her career itself, lost. Now, with Hall having diligently chased Armaindo’s ghost through newspaper and other archives, we have a more full and rounded picture of a woman who was ahead of her time.

Girl-and-the-Game-2e_web-200x300The second edition of The Girl and the Game: A History of Women’s Sport in Canada, originally published in 2002, was released in May 2016 by the University of Toronto Press. Aside from simply updating the first edition, and including new research material, I have made a concerted effort to include more about Aboriginal women’s sporting history in the revised edition.

For more information, read the blog I wrote explaining the changes made to the second edition on the University of Toronto Press website.

For ordering information go to UTP Publishing.

Bookcover2Between 1915 and 1940, the amazing Edmonton Grads dominated women’s basketball in Canada. Coached by J. Percy Page, they played over 400 official games, losing only 20; they travelled more than 125,000 miles in Canada, the United States, and Europe. They crossed the Atlantic three times to defend their world title at exhibition games held in conjunction with the Summer Olympics in Paris, Amsterdam, and Berlin. The Grads Are Playing Tonight! also contains capsule biographies of all 38 women who played for the Grads over the years. It is illustrated with over 100 archival photos.


Published in 2008 by James Lorimer, Immodest and Sensational is designed for younger audiences. Based on research completed for The Girl and the Game: A History of Women’s Sport in Canada, it is a fully illustrated history of 150 years of Canadian women’s sport history. It also has a sections on notable firsts and achievements in Canadian women’s sport and where to find more information about Canada’s athletic heroines.

img004Feminism and Sporting Bodies was published in 1996 through Human Kinetics. It traces my 30-year journey across the feminist terrain–from liberal, radical, Marxist, and socialist feminism to what were then new trends in contemporary cultural theory in sport. The book focuses on the debates over these positions within feminism, illustrating their relevance to sport and physical education.


With co-author Gertrud Pfister, Honoring the Legacy tells the story of the International Association of Physical Education and Sport for Girls and Women between 1949 and 1999.

It was published by IAPESGW in 1999

img012Sport in Canadian Society is the first Canadian textbook in the sociology of sport.

It was published by McClelland & Stewart in 1991.