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The original hardwood surface that may have been used for Canada's first basketball game has been uncovered in St. Stephen, N.B. The game was invented by Canadian Dr. James Naismith, above. ((Associated Press))

The original hardwood floor where the first game of basketball may have been played in Canada has been discovered after a fire at the former YMCA in St. Stephen, N.B.

The lower level of the building, which houses the Wood and Wardrobe thrift store, was heavily damaged by a blaze last May.

Tammy Parks is the director of the St. Croix Vocational Centre, which operates the thrift store where 38 mentally disabled adults work.

She said the YMCA's gymnasium used to be on the second floor. During the cleanup and reconstruction of the building, she realized there was more of the gym remaining than she had thought.

"There was carpeting on the floor when we became the owners," Parks explained. "Since the fire, we've removed the carpeting, and it's very narrow hardwood, so it certainly looks like it would be the hardwood from the original flooring."

St. Stephen home to Canadian basketball history

Canada's basketball tradition began with the inventor of the game, Dr. James Naismith, who was born and educated in Canada.

He created the game in 1891 for a group of international students at the YMCA Training College in Springfield, Mass., using peach baskets at either end of the room.

According to the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame, basketball was introduced in 1892 in the border town of St. Stephen by Lyman Archibald, who was one of Naismith's students.

Many believe that was the first game played in Canada.

More than 100 years later, the second floor gymnasium will again host a game of basketball, Parks said. At an open house on April 30, professional players from the Saint John Mill Rats will scrimmage on the hardwood with peach baskets at either end.

Parks sent the team a letter, explaining that they could be sitting on a piece of basketball history, and the team agreed to be part of the unveiling of the restoration.

"It's going to be a very emotional day, and not just for myself but for my staff and for my clients," Parks said. "A year ago, when I stood and watched the fire destroy that building, I never really thought we would be where we are today."