argos-tigercats090203

Arland Bruce, left, and the Toronto Argonauts open the 2009 CFL season at Hamilton against Chris Thompson and the Tiger-Cats on July 1. ((John Rennison/Canadian Press))

Two of the Canadian Football League's most storied franchises will celebrate the country's 142nd birthday with a good old-fashioned grudge match.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who took two of three meetings against the Toronto Argonauts last season, will host their Eastern Division rivals in a Canada Day matchup on July 1 at 7 p.m. ET.

"July 1 is the perfect day to celebrate that this is our country, this is our league, and the bond between the two is strong," CFL commissioner Mark Cohon said in a statement.

"We can't wait to get started. And, in the meantime, the thought of a summer holiday capped by a fun evening at a CFL stadium is just the ticket to get many of us through another cold winter day."

The second half of the CFL's opening-day doubleheader at 10 p.m. ET will be a rematch of last year's Grey Cup, featuring the Montreal Alouettes at Calgary Stampeders, host of this year's CFL championship.

In last year's 96th Grey Cup, Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris threw for a touchdown and Sandro DeAngelis kicked five field goals in a 22-14 win over the hometown Alouettes.

On July 2, the Edmonton Eskimos open the 2009 campaign against former receivers coach Mike Kelly and the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers (9 p.m. ET).

The Saskatchewan Roughriders host the B.C. Lions on July 3 (9 p.m. ET) to close out Week 1.

Among the season's other highlights:

  • Labour Day weekend features traditional matchups with the Lions hosting Montreal on Sept. 4, the Roughriders hosting Winnipeg in the Banjo Bowl Sept. 6 and Hamilton welcoming Toronto to Ivor Wynne Stadium on Sept. 7, followed by Edmonton at Calgary in the Battle of Alberta.
  • The Eskimos and Lions will open Thanksgiving weekend with an Oct. 9 contest at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium. The following day Toronto visits Saskatchewan, with a doubleheader slated for Oct. 11, Calgary at Montreal and Winnipeg at Hamilton.
  • The CFL has returned to a Sunday format for the playoffs and has scheduled the East and West semifinals for Nov. 15. The divisional finals will be held Nov. 22.
  • McMahon Stadium in Calgary will be the site of the 97th Grey Cup game Nov. 29 at 6:30 p.m. ET.
  • The exhibition season begins June 17 with all eight teams squaring off.