The British Columbia Lion entered the Canadian Football League in 1954. They began play at 15, 000 seat Empire Stadium in Vancouver. In their first ever regular season game, which was at Empire Stadium, the Lions lost 8-6 to the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Lions one and old win during the 1954 season was against Calgary, in which they beat the Stampeders by a score of 9-4. 1959 was the first ever winning season for the Lions. They finished 9-7, and finished a respectable 3rd in the West. The year of '59 also saw the Lions make the post-season for the very first time. However they lost to Edmonton in the West semi-final.
After a few shaky years with losing records in the early '60's, the Lions were determined to win. They ended the 1963 season with a 12-4 record, leading the Western Division for the first time ever and having the best record in the CFL. In the '63 play-offs the Lions faced off against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who they beat 2 games to one sending the B.C Lions to the Grey Cup for the first time in their short history. The Lions would square off against the tough Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the finals, the Lions lost the game 21-10, but gained valuable experience. The very next year the very same teams would face one another in the Grey Cup again, this time the Lions proved to be the victors winning the game 34-24, and capturing the first Grey Cup in team history. The next 9 years would see the Lions never finishing the season .500.
It wouldn't be until 1974 the Lions finished .500 or better. They finished the '74 season 8-8 and lost to Saskatchewan in the West semi-finals. After a couple more losing season the Lions finished 1977 season 10-6, but a loss in the West Finals to the Edmonton Eskimos ended the Lions dreams of a 2nd Grey Cup.
Once again the Eskimos ended the Lions chances for a birth to the finals with a 22-16 win in the West Finals in 1981. In 1983 B.C Place was constructed, and the Leos finished first in the West with an 11-5 record. The Lions would defeat the Blue Bombers in the West Finals to send the Lions to the Grey Cup where they would play the Toronto Argonauts at B.C Place in front of the home-town fans. The Lions narrowly lost the game by a single point, 18-17 to the Argos. The Lions would once again finish with the best record in the West in 1984, but this time Winnipeg avenged their loss to the Lions in the West Finals the previous year, with a 31-14 victory. For the 3rd consecutive time, the Lions finished with the best record in the West. They finished the campaign with a 13-3 record. This time in the Western Finals, B.C would beat Winnipeg 42-22, and meet Hamilton in the Grey Cup. The Lions won the 1985 Grey Cup for their second championship. In 1986 the CFL adopted the current 18 game schedule they use today, the Leos finished second in the best, and were bounced by Edmonton in the West Finals. 1988 saw the Lions defeat the Rough Riders, then the Eskimos to get to the Grey Cup. The Lions lost a heart-breaker to the Blue Bombers in the finals 22-21.
After a short ownership problem in 1992 and the loss of Doug Flutie to Calgary. '92 was a season full of problems, the Leos had a CFL worst 3-15 campaign. The first ever American expansion by the CFL saw the Sacramento Gold Miners enter the league in 1993. The very same season would see the Lions lose to Calgary in the semis. 1994 saw a whole slew of American teams enter the CFL. The Baltimore Stallions, Las Vegas Posse, and Shreveport Pirates joined the CFL. The 1994 Grey Cup Finals in Vancouver pitted Canada versus the United States. Coming off an 11-6-1 season, and a thrilling post-season the Lions were set to play against Baltimore. In an exciting match-up, the game was tied 23-23, and with no time left, fan-favorite Lui Passaglia kicked the game winning field goal defeating Baltimore 26-23, and making the B.C Lions Grey Cup Champions for the 3rd time in their existence. In 1995, 3 new American teams entered the CFL, the San Antonio Texans, Memphis Mad Dogs and the Birmingham Barracudas. However, Las Vegas and Sacramento would leave the CFL. 1996 was a difficult year for the CFL and Lions. All the American teams would leave the league and the Ottawa Rough Riders would no longer be apart of the CFL at season's end. The Lions finished last in the West with a 5-13 record. In perhaps what was the only bright spot in the season, the Leos signed Damon Allen and David Braley (current owner) was interested in buying the team. It wasn't until 1999, B.C would finish 1st in the West. However, a loss to Calgary in the West finals ended their Grey Cup hopes.
The new millennium treated the Leos quite nicely as the Lions won their 4th Grey Cup in team history with a 28-26 victory over Montreal in the thrilling final. All of this despite the team finishing with an 8-10 record. 2001 would see the Leos finish with the same record as the previous year, but not the same result, as B.C would lose to Calgary in the semis. 2002 saw the Lions finish with a 10-8 record, but the team would be crushed 30-3 by the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg. The 2003 campaign started well even before the season started. The Lions lured Wally Buono, ex-Calgary head coach of the 90's. Along with Buono the Lions signed all-star Quarterback Dave Dickenson, who had spent a few season as a back-up in the NFL. The Lions also welcomed Kelvin Anderson, former Calgary Running back. While B.C would start the year 0-2, they finished off the year 11-7, finishing 4th in a very tight Western Division. Due to the CFL's crossover rule, the Lions went over to the East and played Toronto. The Lions lost 28-7, but there's a lot of be looking forward to in 2004!