Manitoba History: “An Immense Hold in the Public Estimation:” The First Quarter Century of Hockey in Manitoba, 1886-1911

by Morris Mott
Brandon University

Number 43, Spring / Summer 2002

This article was published originally in Manitoba History by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make this online version available as a free, public service. As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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Just before Christmas in 1893 the Manitoba Free Press ran a special article on winter sports. It contained the observation that although hockey had been established only recently in Winnipeg, it had achieved already an “immense hold in the public estimation.” [1] So it had, and within two decades hockey would become popular throughout Manitoba. By the 1910s it had become what it consistently has been ever since—one of Manitoba’s two most popular sports, if appeal to both participants and spectators is considered. [2]

We know very little about the origins and early history of hockey in Manitoba, and we are mistaken in some of what we think we know. The purposes of this article are to describe the process through which the sport was introduced in the province and then became widespread over the course of a quarter century, to identify ways in which the “immense hold” was revealed, and to suggest the roles that hockey had begun to play in the culture of Manitobans.

In the Free Press article mentioned above, the writer saidthat in 1893-94 hockey was being played for the “fourth year” in Winnipeg. He dated the origins of the sport to the autumn of 1890, when the Victoria and Winnipeg Hockey Clubs were formed. Evidently the same starting point had been in the mind of a writer in the Brandon Mail during the previous winter when he said that hockey was “three years old in Winnipeg.” [3] In 1896 an Eastern Canadian who had been in Winnipeg in the early 1890s informed readers of the Canadian Magazine that hockey had “become the leading winter sport” in the Canadian Northwest and that the first time it had been played there was in Winnipeg in 1890. [4] Two years later, in the same magazine, the Secretary of the Ontario Hockey Association published “A Talk on Hockey” and said that in 1890 “the game was introduced into Manitoba” and that “the first match played in that Province was the one between the Winnipeg and Victoria teams in the same season.” [5]

Senior hockey champions of Canada—Winner, of the Stanley Cup, which was then an amateur trophy. Back row, left to right, Mart Hooper, trainer; Burke Wood. left wing, John Marshall, spore; J. C. G. Armytage, president; G. A. Carruthers, Tony Gingras, right wing; Fred Cadham, spare. Front row, T. Robinson, secretary; Charlie Johnstone, rover; Rod Flett, point; Dan Bain, captain and centre; Magnus Flett, cover point; Art Brown, goal; Walter Pratt.

The Winnipeg Victorias of 1901. The Victorias competed for The Stanley Cup on eight separate occasions, winning the championship three times.
Source: Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame Collection, Archives of Manitoba.

These contemporary observers of hockey developments provided inaccurate information, but it is not surprising that over the next hundred years historians and journalists relied on them to know what they were talking about. Normally, historians and journalists wrote as if Western Canadian hockey began in November 1890, when the two famous clubs were formed, although occasionally, especially in write-ups on P. A. Macdonald (on whom more later), they referred to informal scrimmages held during the previous January and February. In either case, as far as they were concerned the key year was 1890. For example, in 1920, when the Free Press ran several articles on the fifty-year history of Manitoba, the author of an article on hockey (probably sports editor W. J. Finlay) said that the first appearance of the game in Manitoba had been in Winnipeg in 1890. [6] In 1964 Toronto sports writer and istorian Henry Roxborough published a history of the Stanley Cup and said virtually the same thing. [7] In 1970 Vince Leah of the Winnipeg Tribune wrote his Manitoba Hockey: A History. He mentioned the “scrub” games of the winter of 1889-90 and then said that “the first game in Manitoba history was played December 20, 1890 between the Vics and Winnipegs ...” [8] In recent years a hot topic in Canadian sports history has been the very early history of hockey. A number of diligent researchers have published articles and books on the subject. They have shown that hockey as we know it began in Nova Scotia in the first half of the nineteenth century, became an indoor game with offside rules in Montreal in the 1870s, and then spread from the Montreal-Quebec City-Ottawa-Kingston region of Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec to the rest of Canada, to the United States, and eventually to the world. Frequently their publications have stated or implied that the first manifestations of hockey in Manitoba and the Canadian West came in 1890. [9]

In fact, the sport probably was played for the first time in Manitoba and the West in 1886-87. It is impossible to say more than “probably” because it may be that some of the “shinny” or other bat-ball-goal games that had been played sporadically in the West for several years by the mid-1880s were actually “hockey.” [10] However, the first hard evidence of participation comes in the reports of “hokey” or “hocky” or “hockey” played on the Red River early in the winter of 1886-87. Later in that same winter a couple of games were played indoors at what was known as the Royal Rink, which had been built in 1885 as a roller skating rink but in the winter of 1886-87 was used for ice skating. The teams that played against each other in most of these games—both indoors and outdoors—were the “Bankers” and the “All-Corners.” [11]

Evidently the person who arranged most of the 1886-87 games was P. A. Macdonald. Macdonald had been born in 1857 in Gananoque, Ontario, near Kingston, and in 1880 he had moved to Winnipeg as a young lawyer. Sometime in the mid-80s, perhaps in the winter of 1885-86, he traveled to Montreal. He returned to Winnipeg with a few of the hockey sticks then in use in the “home” of hockey. He was a participant in the “Bankers” vs. “All-Comers” matches mentioned above. Soon he became one of Winnipeg’s leading citizens and references to him over the years in the city’s newspapers often mentioned that he had introduced hockey to Winnipeggers. [12]

Hockey, then, certainly was played in 1886-87, and it may be that a temporary club was formed in that season. However, for the next few winters the sport did not develop a following. The main reason was that no suitable indoor rink was available and even the outdoor ones were makeshift. The Royal Rink was taken over by the Granite Curling Club in 1887 and this club continued to use the building until 1892. [13] In the late 80s a few pick-up hockey games took place on bare patches of the Assiniboine or Red Rivers, [14] but access to a prepared facility was required before hockey would appeal to more than a very few participants.

The first prepared facility was an outdoor one. In December, 1888 W. F. Austin, Manager of Winnipeg’s Street Car Company, opened an elaborate toboggan slide on the north bank of the Assiniboine River just behind his stables (his streetcars were pulled by horses). His slide was ¼ mile long. Associated with it was a refreshment booth and a nice outdoor skating rink. [15] In 1889-90 Austin’s Rink began to be used occasionally for hockey games, and probably in that season some kind of club was formed by P. A. Macdonald. [16]

In the next winter, 1890-91, the Victoria and Winnipeg Clubs were formed, and they met each other in two matches, both played at Austin’s Rink. [17]

At this juncture everyone knew that the future of hockey in Winnipeg depended upon indoor facilities. [18] Soon these became available because of developments in curling. Back in 1887, when the Granite Club had decided to move to the Royal Rink, some members of the club, especially those with a financial interest in the old building, decided to stay at the former location on Market Street East. They formed a new club, the Thistle Curling Club, and used the old rink for another winter. Then, in the fall of 1888, the Thistle Club moved to another building, the Grand Roller Rink at the corner of Princess and McWilliam (now Pacific). [19] The Grand Roller Rink, like the Royal, had been build in 1885 when a roller skating craze hit Winnipeg as it had other North American cities. [20] The Thistle abandoned the Grand in 1891. It was purchased by two men named Brydon and Charlesworth who originally intended to use it for a warehouse but instead turned it into a skating rink. This Thistle Rink, or Brydon’s Rink as it came to be known, was the home of Winnipeg hockey in 1891-92. [21]

In the next season another curling building became available for hockey. This was the old Royal Rink, freed up when the Granite Curling Club built a new rink at the corner of Ellice and Hargrave which it used for the next twenty years until it constructed the beautiful facility it still has on Mostyn Place. In 1892 the Granite Rink was a little better structure for hockey than the Thistle—it had a larger ice surface—and the Granite Rink, or the McIntyre Rink as it was often called because it was located on Albert Street behind the McIntyre Block, was Winnipeg’s best hockey building until 1898-99. [22]

If one season marked the “take off” of hockey in Manitoba, it was 1892-93. In that winter, with two indoor rinks in use, hockey became a very popular participant sport in Winnipeg, whereas for the previous two years it had been played primarily by the high caliber players on the city’s two or three “senior” teams. [23] Furthermore, in the same 1892-93 season a Manitoba and North-West Amateur Hockey Association was formed to oversee competition among these top clubs and any others that may wish to compete for a championship trophy. [24] In the middle of the winter a kind of all-star team from the three Winnipeg senior clubs traveled to Ontario and Quebec and demonstrated that they could compete with the best players in the world. [25] Finally, in this season the first teams were formed in Portage la Prairie, Carberry, Brandon, and perhaps a couple of other rural Manitoba centers. [26] By 1893 there could not have been many Manitobans who were unaware that a new sport was gaining a big following.

Over the next half dozen years hockey’s popularity mushroomed. In Winnipeg, by 1898-99 there were well over a hundred teams. There were the highly competitive “senior” or “intermediate” or “junior” teams—intermediate teams were not quite as good as senior ones, and usually junior teams were composed of younger members of a senior or intermediate club. There were teams from different banks in a Bankers’ league, teams from the denominational colleges in an Intercollegiate league, teams from firms such as G. F. and J. Galt and Company (groceries) or George D. Wood and Company (hardware) in a Wholesaler’s league, and teams from large establishments such as the Canadian Pacific Railway in a Mercantile league. There were two teams composed of Icelandic-Canadians, and another two teams composed of lacrosse players. There were teams formed by public school students, by newspaper carriers, and by residents of boarding houses. [27] Meanwhile, outside of Winnipeg, Brandon and Portage la Prairie there were by this time several teams in “commercial” or “city” leagues as well as senior, intermediate, and junior clubs. Furthermore, in the smaller towns or villages, one or more teams definitely had been formed in Neepawa, Alexander, Wawanesa, MacGregor, Crystal City, Elkhorn, Oak Lake, Reston, Griswold, Manitou, Somerset, Morden, Souris, Virden, Hartney, Carberry (as mentioned), Pierson, Melita, Holland, Treheme, Carman, Dauphin, Boissevain, Deloraine, and no doubt other centers as well. [28]

Ten years later, by 1909, there were so many clubs and teams that no person possibly could have counted them all. In Winnipeg, scores of teams played in various commercial, hardware, bankers’, and tradesmens’ leagues. There was a “Theatre” league and an “Abattoir” league. By this time several hockey leagues had been formed by those whobelieved that Winnipeg had social problems that could be alleviated if responsible adults organized sports for teenaged boys. Among these leagues were a “Juvenile” league for boys sixteen years of age and under, several school leagues, and church leagues such as the Presbyterian League or the Methodist Literary and Athletic Association Hockey League. Large businesses such as the CPR or Eaton’s or the Hudson’s Bay Company now had their own leagues composed of teams with names such as “Salesmen” or “Mail Order,” to use Eaton’s examples. There were teams from particular streets such as Edwin Street or McDonald Street who played occasional games. The painters and wall paperers in the city could play on teams that competed for the All-Painters’ Cup! [29]

During the same decade, between 1899 and 1909, rural Manitobans also formed teams and clubs rapidly. The first organizations appeared in dozens of communities including Crandall, Arrow River, Miniota, Hamiota, Strathclair, Gilbert Plains, Elphinstone, Rivers, Belmont, Darlingford, Binscarth, Swan Lake, Shoal Lake, Pilot Mound, Kenton, Bradwardine, Carroll, Fairfax, Altona, Gretna, Steinbach. [30] Furthermore, in comparatively large towns or small cities such as Neepawa or Dauphin or Souris, as in Brandon or Portage a few years earlier, a city or commercial league was established for players not good enough for senior or intermediate competition. [31]

Brandon Ladies’ Hockey Team, 1899.
Source: Daly House Museum, Brandon.

Was there a general pattern to the spread of the sport? Yes, there was. The people who first were drawn to hockey were British Protestants, especially if they had roots in Eastern Canada. In rural Manitoba, in the towns and villages they dominated teams were formed earlier and followed more enthusiastically than teams were in communities dominated by Icelanders, Belgians, Swedes, Poles, Ukrainians, Mennonites, and Franco-Manitobans. [32] In the city of Winnipeg, Jews, Icelanders, Franco-Manitobans, and Germans all were participating in hockey by the turn of the century, [33] but they were not yet as prominent as British Protestants and would not be for another generation or two. The members of some ethnic and religious minorities were very suspicious on moral grounds of competitive sports, [34] but most of them were not so much opposed to hockey as simply less committed to it. For the time being, it meant less to them.

For the British Protestants, hockey filled a gap in the sporting culture they had been creating since the 1860s. Before the 1890s they had no winter equivalent of the summer sports of baseball, cricket (which still had a significant following), soccer, rugby, and (field) lacrosse. These were the most praiseworthy and celebrated of the “manly” sports. Hockey joined them.

The “manly” sports were those that tested and therefore dramatized qualities that males should possess. [35] These qualities might be “physical”—for example, strength, speed, energy. They might be “mental”—alertness, or the capacities to recognize an opponent’s strategy and to react appropriately. They might be “moral”—determination, discipline, or the kind of skill that seemed not God-given but developed through dedicated practice. All the manly sports called for some of these virtues. Hockey, along with the summer team sports mentioned above, tested a very wide variety of them. Speed, stamina, strength, balance, toughness, acquired skills, loyalty to teammates, decisiveness, discipline, clear-headedness, ability to “read” the intentions of opponents or teammates, all of these and more desirable qualities were needed to play hockey effectively.

Before the 1890s, Manitobans had been drawn in significant numbers to only three winter sports. These were snowshoeing, skating, and curling. Snowshoeing and skating normally were what we might call “recreational pastimes” rather than sports—they resembled modern-day skiing or bike riding. Occasionally, however, there were competitions for snowshoers or skaters, usually races of various kinds or jumping events (over barrels, for example). Once hockey appeared on the scene snowshoeing quickly lost popularity [36] and skating became more a pastime and less a sport. As sports, snowshoeing and skating had the same liabilities as competitive swimming or the various track and field events. The range of manly qualities highlighted in them was comparatively narrow. Furthermore, the attributes tested in them were mainly physical ones, and therefore too frequently they featured unevenly matched opponents.

Curling was a different matter. [37] Curling had been established in Manitoba in the 1870s and had become popular in the 1880s. It remained prominent after hockey gained a foothold, and it has been one of Manitoba’s two most important winter sports ever since. It was considered a “manly” sport for as long as people used the term. It tested a variety of the manly attributes. However, it did not test the important qualities of speed, toughness, physical courage. [38] In other words, it did not call for some of the virtues desirable in men in their prime. Curling was never considered a sport for “sissies,” as tennis was sometimes. Curling required too much endurance, strength, skill, hardihood (especially in these years of unheated rinks); moreover, too many big strong farm boys curled if they had never had a chance to learn to skate or if they did not live near a village with a rink suitable for hockey. However, the establishment of hockey did reinforce a tendency for curlers to be of middle age or near it. In these early years of hockey, almost always the players were in their teens or twenties. As they moved into their thirties and beyond, for their winter sport they turned to curling or indoor bowling or something in which the risk of injury was lower.

From the 1890s on, then, hockey was considered “the legitimate winter sport” for young healthy males. [39] However, females also sometimes played hockey. The main role of women in hockey as in other manly sports was a spectatoral one. They were expected to cheer on the men, and no “big” hockey match was complete without a large number of ladies in the stands. [40] However, females began to play hockey in Winnipeg in 1891-92, [41] and soon they were playing it periodically in communities all over the province. [42]

This is not as surprising as it may seem. Women always had been encouraged to skate and therefore before they were introduced to hockey many of them had acquired the one essential skill for participation. Furthermore, normally they played an altered form of the game that made it suitable for them. [43] For example, in ladies’ hockey the players did not make violent contact with each other. Furthermore, frequently the normal offside rules were not applied. In these years in a men’s hockey match there was no forward passing, and players who were ahead of the puck were expected to stay out of the play completely; indeed, one has the impression that male athletes who exhibited “unhealthy tendencies to linger” offside were suspected of immoral living. [44] But it was assumed that girls were more fragile than boys, so girls were not forced to scurry around and perhaps exhaust themselves in attempts to be on their own side of the puck. Moreover, in a general way the women were expected to play as if victories and defeats were not important; their main goal, which sometimes they forgot, was to benefit from fresh air and exercise. Quite often the proceeds from gate receipts from their matches went to a charity. [45] In short, women played hockey in a manner that was consistent with Victorian and Edwardian views of the female as more charitable, less vigorous, less competitive than the male.

The Souris rink built in 1896. Photograph taken in 1947.
Source: R. M. Saunders and W. J. Saunders, The Souris Story, 1979, p. 35.

In the 1890s and early 1900s the rapidly-growing number of hockey teams and clubs was both a cause and a result of new facilities. Almost always these were provided by private investors. It is true that just at the end of the period discussed here, as part of its effort to speak to problems of juvenile vagrancy and delinquency, the City of Winnipeg first began to establish and maintain outdoor skating rinks on its public playgrounds; by 1920 the City had over twenty such rinks. [46] It is true also that in the years just before World War One a few local governments agreed to support private investors in indoor rinks by granting breaks on property taxes or guarantees on construction bonds. [47] Moreover, in at least two centers there were early manifestations of the “community” rinks that became very common in the 1920s and 1930s. [48] But for the time being almost all hockey facilities were built and maintained privately.

The private investors normally operated through a joint-stock company. Each of many individuals put up a relatively small amount of money (sometimes only $5.00 or $10.00) to erect a building. They elected a Board of Directors, and the Board hired a Manager or perhaps leased out the facility for a year or two. The investors did not make big profits. In fact, probably in most years they were happy if they broke even. Their small investments were at considerable risk, because rinks were always being destroyed by fire, by high winds, or by the weight of heavy snowfal1. [49]

In large centers the rinks used for hockey were skating/ hockey buildings; the structures used for curling were not connected. The most elaborate of the hockey rinks were in Winnipeg. In that city, the main hockey arena from 1892-93 to 1898-99 was the Granite (McIntyre) Rink, and it remained in use until about 1902. It could hold about 1200 spectators until 1896 when, just before it hosted the first Stanley Cup match ever played in the West, it was enlarged to a capacity of about 2000. [50] Other important indoor facilities in the 1890s and early in the 1900s were the Thistle (Brydon’s) Rink, where hockey was first played (as mentioned) in 1891-92 and which was used until it burned down in 1900, the Citizen’s Rink, at Sutherland and Main, built in 1893 and used until about 1905, and the Manitoba Rink, located at Isabell and McWilliam (Pacific), used for only a couple of winters after it was built in 1893. [51]

As the major arena, the Granite was superceded in 1898-99 by the Auditorium Rink. It was financed by a group of very prominent businessmen, among them E. L. Drewry, proprietor of the Redwood and Empire Brewery, F. W. Stobart of Stobart and Sons (dry goods), J. H. Ashdown of Ashdown’s Hardware, and A. M. Nanton, partner in the financial firm of Osler, Hammond, and Nanton. It was located right downtown at the corner of Garry Street and York Avenue. Built at a cost of about $20,000, it was a very impressive wood structure which featured a coat check room, a ladies’ room, four or five dressing rooms. The ice surface measured 200' by 80', which was close to what was already known as “regulation” size (these were roughly the dimensions of the Victoria Rink in Montreal, the first important site of indoor hockey). Under the ice, on a lower level, were four bowling alleys. Originally the Auditorium could seat about 2000 spectators for hockey, but there was always standing room for a few hundred more, and over the years it was renovated and expanded so that eventually it could hold over 3500. It was one of Winnipeg’s “big game” rinks until after World War One, and it remained in use until it was destroyed by fire in 1926. [52]

Early in the twentieth century other important indoor hockey facilities were constructed (there were dozens of outdoor rinks). The first was the Arena Rink, built in 1905 on Bannatyne Avenue just west of the General Hospital. Perhaps it was not quite as “posh” as the Auditorium, but it had a slightly larger ice surface and it could accommodate over 2500 spectators. At about the same time, the (new) Manitoba Rink opened at Stella and Schultz. It was the only covered rink in the north end of the city, and it was used until about 1910 by teams that did not expect to draw big crowds. Meanwhile, in 1908 the Winnipeg Rink had opened on the north side of Portage Avenue between Langside and Furby. It was used for some of the games in the professional league that already existed (more on this later), and also by many intermediate and commercial league teams. It was turned into a roller rink in the 1930s and some of the structure still stands. Finally there was the Amphitheatre located just west of Osborne Street near the Assiniboine River. It was built for horse shows in 1908, but by 1910 it was being used for skating and hockey, and it became the major hockey venue in the city after its seating capacity was doubled to about 6000 in 1914. [53]

These indoor facilities were used for more than hockey. In summer they might be used for boxing or wrestling matches, roller skating, or different kinds of exhibitions. In winter some of them were rented for a week or more by the Manitoba Curling Association (until 1908 it was the Manitoba Branch of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club). The curling association needed more ice than the city’s curling clubs could provide for its annual Bonspiel, the largest in the world, with 101 teams in 1898 and 187 in 1910. [54] Furthermore, either for specific nights each week or for the early evening hours on most nights an arena would schedule pleasure skating; frequently a band would be hired so that couples could swoop around the ice to music. Every now and again an arena would host a carnival and prizes would be awarded to those who wore the best or most original costumes. But the arenas relied on revenue generated by hockey teams. The big spectator attractions were the top caliber hockey matches, and there was never enough ice for the number of teams that wanted to book time for practices or games. [55]

Meanwhile, in the smaller towns and villages of rural Manitoba a different kind of hockey facility emerged. In these centers sometimes hockey was first attempted outdoors, but usually it began in an unsatisfactory building. Perhaps, as in Neepawa, curling ice was “borrowed” for a few nights. Perhaps also, as in Alexander and Darlingford, the roof over the ice was held up by poles that had to be dodged by stickhandlers and checkers. Or it may be, as was the case in Dauphin and Cypress River, that when hockey caught on it had to be played on a skating oval that surrounded curling sheets. Even if there were no other problems, almost always the first ice surface was far too small. The first hockey games in Carberry, for example, were played on a rink that measured 130' by 25'! [56]

The solution to the facility problem was to build the kind of combined skating and curling rink that soon became ubiquitous across agricultural Manitoba, especially in British-Protestant communities. This rink was often located at the edge of town, perhaps near a slough to ease the task of hauling or pumping water to flood ice surfaces. Construction costs were low—perhaps $1,000 or $1500 was sufficient—because labour and sometimes even specific materials were donated. The rink was built of wood, and almost always the base for the ice surfaces was level dirt. The whole structure might be 170' to 200' long and 80' to 120' wide. Most of the building was taken up by the skating surface. This was smaller than hockey’s “regulation” size; perhaps it was 150' to 180' by 40' to 70'. The smaller size was dictated by the desire to keep costs down, by an awareness that a length of only about 150' was needed to accommodate curling sheets, and by educated guesses about the number of pleasure skaters that would be on the ice at any one time. This skating ice was covered by an arched or v-shaped roof that might be 25' or 30' high at the apex. Along side the skating ice, usually joined to it in lean-to fashion and with a much lower roof, was the curling rink. Most curling sheets in Manitoba were the “standard” size, which was 146' long from backboard to backboard and just over 14' wide. This meant that the dimensions of a two or three-sheet curling rink were about 150' by 30' or 45'. Quite often the curlers and skaters used a common “waiting” or “viewing” room built across the front of the ice surfaces, but sometimes there were separate rooms for the two surfaces. In either case the waiting room(s) would be perhaps 20' to 40' deep. Unlike the large city rinks, which had indoor plumbing and sometimes showers in the dressing rooms, rural rinks seldom had running water. Toilet facilities were rudimentary, if they existed at all. [57]

The Winnipeg Amphitheatre in 1912.
Source: Archives of Manitoba.

To a greater degree than the city rink, the town or village rink was a winter community meeting place (it was seldom used in summer). It was purposely designed so that different winter sports groups would patronize it. [58] Normally it was open every evening except Sunday, and people would go “down to the rink” not only to play or watch a sports activity but also to catch up on local gossip or to conduct informal business. On a slow night on the skating ice there might be hockey practices or pleasure skating and on the curling ice there may be only rather low-key games involving teams from the local club. On two or three nights a year the rink’s managers would arrange a carnival; prizes would be awarded to those with the best costumes as well as those who won skating races or jumping contests. A nice annual three or four day attraction was the “open” bonspiel. For the bonspiel the skating ice might be divided up into extra curling sheets so that teams from both the local club and nearby towns could compete for prizes. The most exciting nights, however, were the hockey game nights—the nights on which the home team faced a visiting one. [59]

In these years there were few formal leagues or teams for boys who were not yet in their mid-teens. The centre of attention was the adult hockey clubs. These clubs always represented communities. Perhaps they represented Brandon’s “Bankers” in a city league, or the “Mailing-Press Room” employees in a Free Press league. The best teams were the senior and intermediate teams that represented villages, towns, or cities, and usually they played in a league with teams from other villages, towns, or cities. [60]

These teams were composed of the top players in the community. There is no reason to think that certain players were excluded because they did not come from the appropriate class. Class was like religion and ethnicity. It could be an important factor in the formation of low-level recreational terms; and certainly it helped decide which youngsters could develop their hockey skills in informal settings because parents’ economic conditions as well as their attitudes toward sport dictated which boys had the equipment and the time to play. [61] However, except in the indirect and minor way it helped to determine who was considered a “professional” (mentioned later), social class was not a factor in choosing a competitive hockey team. [62] Victory was too important.

In Manitoba all the manly sports were unofficially regulated by a sportsmanship code that insisted that the result of a game mattered less than the effort put into the activity. The “governing rule of sport,” according to John W. Dafoe, editor of the Manitoba Free Press, was the same as the “law of life ...” It was to “play the game, to play it to the utmost of one’s powers, and to accept victory or defeat, as one or the other might result ...” [63] This same sentiment was articulated over and over again by speakers at banquets and clergymen in sermons. [64] But if a sport was a test of manly qualities then it made some sense to assume that the winner was more manly and therefore more virtuous than the loser. [65] Far more than most Manitobans acknowledged intellectually, at the emotional, visceral level the score mattered.

In these years a senior or intermediate team might play only six or eight games a year, and seldom more than ten. There was time for each match to be eagerly anticipated before it began and then thoroughly analyzed and digested after it was over. For away games an excursion train often was arranged through a railroad company, and sometimes hundreds of supporters would accompany the team. [66] Almost always they would be outnumbered by fans of the home club. Even though some leading members of the communities frowned upon doing so, partisans frequently placed wagers of significant size on the two clubs. [67] When a team won, spokesmen would mention the skill, the stamina, the teamwork that had determined the score. When a team lost, then spokesmen tried to find reasons for the outcome that did not reflect badly on the whole community.

Sometimes the reason advanced for a loss was the differing physical capacities of the players. If the opponents had been simply too big or too strong, supporters did not feel embarrassed. After a 1904 game in which Neepawa lost to Souris 8-2, Neepawa’s followers took comfort from the fact that compared to Souris their own team had been “fleeter afoot and more accurate in combination.” They simply had been outmuscled. Similarly, according to the Morris Herald, an 8-3 loss suffered by Morris to Manitou in a game in 1907 was of no great concern, because “weight” had been Manitou’s big advantage. Evidently the Morris boys had shown they were “faster skaters and better stickhandlers” in spite of the score. [68]

Grandview’s hockey team of 1907-08.
Source: Archives of Manitoba.

However, if two teams were of more or less equal caliber, which is to say they had similar physical capacities, then losses were more bothersome. They might have been but almost never were explained by lack of discipline or conditioning or other attributes that should have been encouraged by a community. They were explained instead by poor ice conditions, unfortunate injuries, lucky goals, and especially referees who could not see off-sides and who favoured the other team when calling or not calling penalties. [69]

If the comments of spokesmen for defeated teams were accurate, there was hardly a competent referee in the whole province. Frequently teams did something that today they almost never do because of the suspensions that might result—they refused to complete a match they were losing and in which they felt the officiating was unusually bad. They did this noticeably when the referee refused to believe that a player had been injured by a foul as seriously as he and his teammates made out. What is now called “verbal abuse” of officials was commonplace in these early years of the sport, and physical abuse was not unknown if large bets were in play. [70]

Manitobans, then, cared about the quality of their teams. They did so when a club represented one village or town or city against another. They did so especially when a club represented the West against the East.

From the earliest years in which they played the sport, Manitobans felt obligated to excel in hockey, to play it as well as Central Canadians. Their immigration literature constantly proclaimed the physical, mental, and moral benefits of living in the “bracing” air and “pure ozone” of Manitoba’s winters. Not to produce good hockey players and teams would be a disgrace. [71]

The first teams that revealed that Manitobans could play the sport at a very high level were those that made exhibition tours of the East in 1893 and 1895. [72] The 1893 team, as mentioned, was a picked team from the three Winnipeg senior clubs. It won eight of eleven games. The 1895 team was the Winnipeg Victorias, which won four of five games played against good Eastern clubs in Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, and Toronto (two teams). By the time this 1895 team had completed its tour, Easterners knew that Manitobans were good.

They knew also that already Manitobans were making innovations in equipment and techniques that were worth copying. Goalies from Manitoba were the first to protect their legs with thick pads. These were, in fact, cricket pads, and Winnipeg goalies were using them at least by 1893 and probably earlier (not 1896 as some writers have said). [73] Manitobans appear to have developed the wrist shot in the early 1890s, [74] at a time when the normal way of propelling the puck was to whack it in field-hockey style. Manitobans may have developed the first special sticks for goaltenders, [75] and were probably the first to adopt “tube” skates, which were lighter than those used previously partly because the posts that connected blade to boot were made of hollow steel. [76] Early in the 1890s they developed a lacrosse-style face off that Eastern clubs and associations, once they had seen it, quickly substituted for their field hockey type of face off. [77] By the mid 90s, then, Manitobans had shown that they were innovators in hockey as well as very fine players.

The next logical step was to challenge for the Stanley Cup. The Stanley Cup had been commissioned and arranged for in 1892-93 by Canada’s sixth Governor-General, Lord Stanley of Preston. It was designed as a symbol of hockey supremacy in Canada. [78] The Cup was awarded first in 1893 to the Montreal Hockey Club, champions of the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada, the best league in the Dominion. From this year until 1914, when new regulations were made, trustees of the Cup vetted challenges from good teams across the country. The champion would be required to defend the Cup on specific dates against opponents selected by the trustees. Almost always the games were played in the home arena of the defenders.

Between 1896 and 1908 Manitoban teams played fifteen different times against Eastern opponents with the Stanley Cup at stake. [79] Sometimes the trustees arranged for a one-game challenge for the Cup, sometimes for a best-of- three games series, sometimes for a two-game total-goals series. Whatever the format might be, the Stanley Cup games generated more province-wide interest than any other sporting events in which Manitobans participated.

This interest was revealed both when Manitoba’s team played at home and when it played down East. A Manitoban team defended the Cup at home four different times. The Winnipeg arenas were packed beyond capacity for these games. [80] “Scalpers” sold tickets for twelve to fifteen times the “official” price for reserved seats, and the people who bought the tickets had lined up for hours and perhaps had traveled several hundred miles. Telegraphic reports of the matches, which were really early versions of play-by-play broadcasts, were tapped out to theatres, hotels, and other convenient gathering points across the province. When a team played a sudden death game or a series down East, as happened eleven different times, there were send-offs at railway stations before the squad left, comments about the hardy Westerners and their “effete” Eastern opponents, telegraphic reports of the games, and receptions when the team arrived home, especially if it had won. Meanwhile newspapers that normally contained very little on sports, especially minority-language papers, would take note of these Stanley Cup competitions. [81]

The Manitoba teams in Stanley Cup play were the Winnipeg Victorias on eight separate occasions, the Kenora (Rat Portage until 1905) Thistles on four occasions (the Kenora team always played as the champion of a Manitoba league), and Brandon, the Winnipeg Rowing Club, and the Winnipeg Maple Leafs one time each. The Manitoba team won four of the fifteen times (the Victorias three times and Kenora once), and every squad except the Maple Leafs was competitive. [82] This is significant, because the Maple Leafs were the last of the clubs mentioned above to play for the Cup, and the last Manitoban team to do so until the Winnipeg Jets joined the N.H.L. in 1979-80. The poor performance of the Maple Leafs, who lost each of two games to the Montreal Wanderers by six goals, revealed that recently Manitoban squads had fallen behind the best Eastern clubs. There was a good reason for this. It had to do with the economics of high level hockey.

The Maple Leafs club was a professional one. Professional hockey had emerged in Pennsylvania and Michigan very early in the twentieth century, and from the beginning top Canadian players including some Manitobans had decided to take advantage of the opportunities pro hockey provided. [83] In response, for the time being Manitoban and other Canadian clubs tried to entice players to remain at home by providing employment, by offering money “under the table,” or by appealing to a widespread distaste for professionalism.

This distaste for professionalism had been present ever since Manitobans had become involved in organized sports. Part of the problem with pro sports was that usually the athletes were imports, and this destroyed the “representative” qualities of the competition. [84] Part of it had to do with the assumption that sports were supposed to be diversions. As one Winnipeg clergyman put it in “A Plea for Wholesome Out-Door Sports” made in 1902, “... our sports were not intended to be turned into an avocation ...They were intended to give pleasure, and to supply rest and relaxation.” [85] Finally, pro sports were associated with “thrown” matches on the one hand and breaking the rules in order to win on the other. Supposedly, the promoters of and participants in professional sports were motivated only by money. [86] Their greediness and their failure to appreciate the true spirit of sport were likely to “contaminate” the amateurs with whom they came into contact. This is why Manitoban and Canadian amateur associations professionalized everyone who competed with or against non-amateurs. [87]

Manitobans’ negative ideas about professional sports had been developed and first articulated in Britain by people who were motivated to keep the classes separated. [88] However, keeping the classes separated was never something on which players and followers of hockey in Manitoba placed high priority, and early in the twentieth century their lack of sympathy for class prejudice was one thing that helped break down opposition to pro hockey. They remained aware of and sympathetic to the arguments against professional sports (mentioned above) drawn upon by advocates of pure amateurism. However, over the course of about six years after 1904 many and perhaps most Manitobans came to the conclusion that maintaining strict amateur rules was not only impossible but also malicious and ultimately ridiculous.

It was impossible, malicious and ridiculous because hockey was an extremely popular spectator sport and the revenues generated by elite-level matches far exceeded the arena and travel expenses required to arrange and produce them. [89] This meant that “extra” money was available. The only relevant question was—who would take it? The clubs? Why did this make more sense than paying the players? It was the players, after all, who risked injuries. It was the players who provided the excitement. Why should they not be rewarded for their athletic abilities the same as entertainers were for singing or acting abilities, the same as lawyers were for possessing the “gift of the gab?” [90] Furthermore, for several reasons the practice of professionalizing those amateurs who played with or against professionals seemed, as one observer put it, “silly, inane.” [91] It was based on the palpably false assumption that most professional matches were “fixed.” It made athletes who excelled in one sport ineligible for amateur competition in other sports in which they had no special skills. Finally, it created “experts” out of individuals who only associated with experts. A writer from a Winnipeg newspaper noted sarcastically that recently he had become a “professional” baseball player even though he was not good enough to be offered “thirteen cents a game”; he had been on the field with some professionals. [92] What one notices among pre-World War One Manitobans is a gradual change in opinion towards pro hockey. They became more receptive to it. They came to recognize in particular that it was a legitimate means of earning money for those who had developed their talents to a very high level.

The Winnipeg Auditorium, 1900.
Source: Archives of Manitoba.

Other Canadians were adjusting their opinions of professionalism at about the same time as Manitobans. For a few years after the American pro hockey leagues were established, Canadians and Manitobans developed “shamateurism” (clandestine payment) to a high art. They were motivated by the desire to protect the amateur standing of athletes who were worried about becoming “professionals” in other sports (especially rowing) if they played with and against pro hockey players. [93] Then, after 1906, in both Eastern Canada and in Manitoba there was an effort made to put a stop to the hypocrisy and allow pros and amateurs to play together without prejudice to the amateur standing of unpaid men. It did not work, mostly because too many organizations in too many sports were not yet ready to abolish contamination rules. [94] Beginning in 1907 more and more Canadian teams and leagues became openly professional. In Canada, between 1907 and 1912 there were twelve different pro hockey leagues that operated for at least one season. [95]

One of these professional leagues was established in Manitoba in 1907-08. It was a five team loop when it started but a two team league when the season was over, and the best team was the Maple Leafs who lost the one-sided Stanley Cup games to the Montreal Wanderers. [96] The next season the league began again with three teams, but it was dead by late in January. The main reason was that Manitoban teams simply could not generate the revenue to pay the kinds of salaries that were being paid by Eastern clubs. Two seasons later, in 1911-12, the Patrick brothers, Lester and Frank, established a major professional league on the West Coast using the first Canadian artificial ice arenas, and the competition for good players became even keener.

For seven or eight years by this time Manitoba’s best players (for example “Bad” Joe Hall, who played pro hockey until 1919, mainly in Quebec City) had been leaving home every autumn. By this time, too, some of the biggest names in the sport (Lester Patrick, Art Ross, “Cyclone” Taylor, “Newsy” Lalonde) had passed through and played briefly in the province before accepting better offers elsewhere. “Will there be any hockey in Brandon this winter?” asked a writer in the Brandon Sun in October of 1912. [97] Probably not, he had to admit—at least not the same caliber of hockey seen a few years earlier. Too many top players had left to play for teams in the East or on the West Coast.

This state of affairs was disappointing, but there was awareness that if you accepted the legitimacy of professional hockey there was no practicable means of changing it. Soon Manitobans would become proud of the “prospects” they developed for professional teams; and eventually in their own communities they would take more pride in highly organized youth teams, composed of players with a “future,” than they did in their senior or intermediate teams. All this was in decades to come, however. For the time being their focus was placed on town or district or provincial championship events. It was also starting to be placed on the Allan Cup, which first had been awarded in 1908 and which became within a few years the symbol of supremacy for Canadian amateur clubs. [98] Between 1911 and 1920 Manitoban teams would win this Cup six times. [99] Perhaps the top teams in the keystone province were not quite as good as the pro teams down East or elsewhere, but they still could generate lots of excitement and pride. [100]

Hockey had arrived in most Manitoban communities between the 1880s and the 1910s. It quickly became the most popular winter sport. Over the course of a quarter century Manitobans spent countless hours playing and watching hockey, and they committed hundreds of thousands of dollars to build and maintain the facilities that would accommodate it. The sport gave them an opportunity to reveal that they possessed qualities that everyone applauded, as well as a chance to demonstrate that their town and their region of the Dominion was healthy and progressive. Early in the twentieth century it became obvious to most Manitobans that professional hockey teams and leagues were a North American reality, and that pro teams were not now and might never be viable in their province. This was because other Canadians and even some Americans loved hockey just as Manitobans did, and those other Canadians and Americans had more money and more concentrated populations. There were many signs, however, that despite recent developments in the pro game the immense hold that hockey had on Manitobans would not disappear.


1. Manitoba Free Press (hereafter FP), Dec. 23, 1893, pt. 1, p. 6.

2. The other sport is baseball. If one looks simply at numbers of participants, probably curling and at times soccer have been rivals to hockey and baseball as the most popular sport. But they have not had the same appeal to observers. As a spectator sport, lacrosse in the early years and football more recently have been able to draw larger crowds than either hockey or baseball. But lacrosse and football have had comparatively small numbers of participants.

3. Brandon Mail, March 9, 1893, p. 8.

4. H. J. Woodside, “Hockey in the Canadian North-West,” Canadian Magazine, vol. 6, no. 3 (Jan. 1896), pp. 242-247. On Woodside, see J. W. Fitsell, Hockey’s Captains, Colonels & Kings (Erin, Ont.: The Boston Mills Press, 1987), p. 90.

5. A. H. Beaton, “National Sport: A Talk on Hockey: Canadian Magazine, vol. 10, no. 6 (April 1898), pp. 555-556.

6. FP, July 16, 1920, p. 12.

7. Henry Roxborough, The Stanley Cup Story (Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1964), p. 16.

8. Vince Leah, Manitoba Hockey: A History (Winnipeg: Manitoba Hockey Players’ Foundation, Inc., 1970), p. 25.

9. Fitsell, Hockey’s Captains, esp. pp. 89-90; Garth Vaughan, The Puck Stops Here: The Origin of Canada’s Great Winter Game, Ice Hockey (Fredericton: Garth Vaughan, 1996), esp. pp. 66-67; Vaughan, “Ice Hockey in Nova Scotia,” in Dan Diamond (ed.), Total Hockey (Kingston, New York: Total Sports Publishing, 1998), esp. p. 4; Leonard Kotylo, “The History of Hockey in Toronto,” in Dan Diamond (ed.), Total Hockey, Second Edition (Kingston, New York: Total Sports Publishing, 2000), esp. p. 27; Michael McKinley, Putting A Roof on Winter: Hockey’s Rise from Sport to Spectacle (Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2000), esp. p. 32.

10. See A. S. Morton, A History of the Canadian West to 1870-71, 2nd edition, edited by Lewis G. Thomas (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973), p. 551; John McDougall, In the Days of the Red River Rebellion: Life and Adventures in the Far West of Canada, 1868-1872 (Toronto: William Briggs, 1911), pp. 146-147; The Standard (Winnipeg), April 3, 1875, p. 3; Manitoba Free Press Weekly, Jan. 3, 1874, p. 4.

11. FP, Nov. 18, 1886, p. 4, Nov. 19, 1886, p. 4, Jan. 24, 1887, p. 4, Jan. 25, 1887, p. 4, Feb. 10, 1887, p. 4.

12. Provincial Library of Manitoba, Biographies, B6, pp. 114, 130, B9, p. 217, B10, pp. 3, 79.

13. FP, Oct. 27, 1887, p. 4, Nov. 2, 1887, p. 4; Granite Curling Club, “75th Anniversary Pamphlet” (unpublished paper given to author by Mr. Howard Wood), esp. p. 6.

14. See The Sun (Winnipeg), Nov. 21, 1888, p. 8.

15. FP, Dec. 16, 1888, p. 4, Dec. 17, 1888, p. 4, Dec. 12, 1889, p. 4; Sun, Dec. 18, 1889, p. 4.

16. FP, Jan. 31, 1890, p. 6; PLM Biographies, B9, p. 217; Winnipeg Tribune, March 22, 1890, p. 4. In an earlier article on the Winnipeg Victorias I said that the Vics, established in November, 1890, represented the first club in Western Canada. See “Flawed Games, Splendid Ceremonies: The Hockey Matches of the Winnipeg Vics, 1890-1903.” Prairie Forum, vol. 10, no. 1 (1985), p. 169. But after further research it is pretty clear that Macdonald had formed a club during the winter of 1889-90 and that maybe he did so in 1886-87. Precisely when it was formed, or what it was called, or who the officers were, is not known.

17. FP, Nov. 6, 1890, p. 8, Nov. 15, 1890, p. 8, Dec. 20, 1890, p. 6, March 16, 1891, p. 8.

18. FP, Jan. 31, 1890, p. 6, Nov. 6, 1890, p. 8.

19. FP, Nov. 11, 1887, p. 4; Morris Mott and John Allardyce, Curling Capital: Winnipeg and the Roarin’ Game, 1876-1988 (Winnipeg. University of Manitoba Press, 1989), pp. 7, 13.

20. FP, March 24, 1885, p. 4, Sept. 4, 1885, p. 4, Nov. 3, 1885, p. 4, Nov. 11, 1885, p. 3, May 13, 1890, p. 6. On roller skating in general in the mid-1880s, see Lynn Marks, Revivals and Roller Rinks: Religion, Leisure and Identity in Late Nineteenth Century Small-Town Ontario (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996), pp. 128-130; Dale A. Somers, The Rise of Sports in New Orleans, 1850-1900 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1972), pp. 212-214.

21. FP, Nov. 10, 1891, p. 6, Nov. 28, 1891, p. 5.

22. FP, Dec. 19,1892, p. 5, Jan. 9, 1893, p. 5, Oct. 23, 1893, p. 5, Dec. 23, 1893, pt.1, p. 6, Dec. 12, 1896, p. 5. The McIntyre Rink may have been the first hockey arena in Canada with curved corners. Certainly the Montreal hockey players who played in the McIntyre in December 1896 had never seen anything like the corners at one end. Evidently the McIntyre had round corners by accident rather than by design. See Tribune, Dec. 31, 1896, p. 4; Montreal Star, Jan. 6, 1897, p. 7; McKinley, Putting A Roof on Winter, p. 36.

23. The senior teams were the Victorias and the Winnipegs, both formed in 1890-91, and the Dragoons, a military team that operated from 1891-92 to 1893-94. The Dragoons played some of their games on an outdoor rink on the Assiniboine River close to Osborne Street and the military barracks.

24. FP, Nov. 12, 1892, p. 5.

25. Tribune, Feb. 9 - Feb. 28, 1893.

26. The Manitoba Liberal (Portage la Prairie), Dec. 24, 1892, p. 8; Portage la Prairie Weekly Review, Jan. 4,1893, p. 5, Jan. 18, 1893, p. 4; Brandon Mail, Feb. 2, 1893, p. 8, March 2, 1893, p. 1, March 23, 1893, p. 8, Carberry Express, Jan. 19, 1893, p. 4, Feb. 23, 1893, p. 8.

27. See FP, Feb.13, 1896, p. 2 of winter sports section, and daily newspapers through winter of 1898-99.

28. Many teams and games in rural centers are mentioned in the FP, 1898- 99. See also Souris Plaindealer, Nov. 5, 1896; Hazel McDonald Parkinson, The Mere Living - A Biography of Hartney and District (Winnipeg: Hazel Parkinson, 1957), p. 159; Carman Centennial Book Committee, Up to Now: A Story of Dufferin and Carman (Carman: Carman Centennial Book Committee, 1967), p. 145; Ida Clingan, The Virden Story, 1882-1957 (Virden: Empire Publishing Co. Ltd. 1957), pp. 190-192; C. J. Barnes, Seventy Years in Southwestern Manitoba (Medora: C. J. Barnes, no date), pp. 44-45; Melita-Arthur History Committee, Our First Century (Melita: Melita-Arthur History Committee, 1983), p. 283; RM of Edward History Book Committee, Harvests of Time: History of the RM of Edward (Pierson: RM of Edward History Book Committee, 1983), p. 125; Deloraine History Book Committee, Deloraine Scans a Century: A History of Deloraine and District, 1880-1980 (Deloraine: Deloraine History Book Committee, 1980), p. 168.

29. The source is the daily Winnipeg newspapers, especially the Free Press, winter of 1909-10. For background information on the effort to provide hockey for teen-aged boys, see Morris Mott, “One Solution to the Urban Crisis: Manly Sports and Winnipeggers, 1900-1914,” in Jeffrey Keshen (ed.), Age of Contention: Readings in Canadian Social History, 1900-1945 (Toronto: Harcourt Brace & Company, Canada, 1997), esp. pp. 131-133.

30. Again, the Free Press, 1909-10, mentions many rural teams. See also Brandon Sun, Jan. 17, 1907, p. 3; Belmont History Committee, The Path of the Pioneers: Belmont and District 1889-1989 (Belmont: Belmont History Committee, 1989), p. 156; The Crandall History Society, The Chronicles of Crandall: A History of Crandall and Surrounding Districts (Crandall: The Crandall History Society, 1971), p. 100; Darlingford Historical Book Committee, The Darlingford Saga, 1870-1970 (Darlingford: Darlingford Historical Book Committee, 1974), pp. 362-366; Women’s Institutes of Arrow River and Miniota, Bridging the Years (Arrow River: Women’s Institutes of Arrow River and Miniota, 1967?), pp. 83-84, 190-191; Fairfax Community Club, Pioneers to Present Years: History of Fairfax Consolidated School District (Fairfax: Fairfax Community Club, no date), p. 56; Our Story to 1970 (Strathclair: RM of Strathclair, 1970), pp. 162-168; Hamiota Centennial History Committee, Hamiota: Grains of the Century, 1884-1984 (Hamiota: Hamiota Centennial History Committee, 1984), p. 259; F. G. Enns, Gretna: Window on the Northwest (Gretna: Village of Gretna History Committee, 1987), p. 168; Esther Epp-Tiessen, Altona: The Story of a Prairie Team (Altona: D. W. Friesen & Sons, Ltd, 1982), p. 95.

31. See Brandon Times, Dec. 6, 1906, p. 6; Souris Plaindealer, Jan. 22, 1909, p. 4; Dauphin Press, Feb. 7, 1910, p. 10; Neepawa Press, March 1, 1907, p. 8; Portage la Prairie Weekly Review, Dec. 24, 1907, p. 5.

32. See Armes History Book Committee, The Point and Beyond: Ares and District, 1876-1990 (Ames: Arnes History Book Committee, 1990), p. 59; Centennial History Committee, Town of Gimli, Gimli Memories (Gimli: Town of Gimli, 1981), p. 13; Nelson S. Gerrard, Iceland River Saga (Arborg; Saga Publications, 1985), pp. 147-149; Frank Brown, A History of the Town of Winkler, Manitoba (Winkler: Frank Brown, 1973), pp. 47-54; Abe Warkentin, Reflections on our Heritage: A History of Steinbach and the Rural Municipality of Hanover from 1874 (Steinbach: Derksen Printers, 1971), pp. 160-161; Royden Loewen, Blumenort: A Mennonite Community in Transition, 1874-1982 (Blumenort: Blumenort Mennonite Historical Committee, 1983), p. 202; Antoine Gaboreau, UnSiecled’histoire: Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes (Manitoba) 1891-1990 (Notre-Dame: Comite des fetes du centenaire, 1990), p. 105; Moissonneurs de la Rouge, 1882-1982 (Letellier: La Municapalite rurale de Montcalm, 1982), pp. 73, 116-117; St. Alphonse New Horizon History Book Committee, Tapestry of Faith: Roman Catholic Parish of St. Alphonse, 1883-1983 (St. Alphonse: St. Alphonse New Horizon Book Committee, 1988?), p. 173; Ste. Rose du Lac History Book Committee, Reflections: A History of Ste. Amelie, Laurier, Ste. Rose du Lac (Ste. Rose: Ste. Ruse du Lac History Book Committee, 1990), pp. 48-49, 135, 141; Bruxelles History Book Committee, Hills of Home: Treasured Memories of Bruxelles (Bruxelles: Bruxelles History Book Committee, 1992), p. 137; Forest to Field: Centennial History of Rural Municipality of Clanwilliam and Village of Erickson, Manitoba Canada (Erickson: History Book Committee, 1984?), pp. 225-227; William R. Smith, Along the Hills to the Valley: Hun’s Valley - Polonia District, 1885-1985 (Polonia: Polonia History Book Committee, 1983), p. 111; Ethelbert History Book Committee, The Ties That Bind: A History of Ethelbert and District (Ethelbert: Ethelbert History Book Committee, 1985), pp. 102-103, 120-121; Teulon and District History Book Committee, They Came for the Future (Teulon: Teulon History Book Committee, 1983), pp. 198-199.

33. See Leible Hershfield, The Jewish Athlete: A Nostalgic View (Winnipeg: Leible Hershfield, 1980), p. 103; Fred Thordanson, “The Romance of the Falcons” (paper in Icelandic Collection, Elizabeth Dafoe Library, University of Manitoba), no pagination; Le Manitoba, March 29, 1899, p. 3, Dec. 26, 1900, p. 5; Winnipeg Tribune, Dec. 27, 1897, p. 3.

34. Hershfield, The Jewish Athlete, p. 20; Arthur A. Chiel, The Jews in Manitoba, A Social History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press,1961), pp. 109-110; E. K. Francis, In Search of Utopia: The Mennonites in Manitoba (Altona: D. W. Friesen & Sons Ltd., 1955), pp. 259-262; EppTiessen, Altona, pp. 92-93; Loewen, Blumenort, pp. 200-202.

35. I have written on this previously in “The British Protestant Pioneers and the Establishment of Manly Sports in Manitoba, 1870-86,” Journal of Sport History, vol. 7, no. 3 (Winter, 1980), esp. pp. 27-29, and “One Town’s Team: Souris and its Lacross Club, 1887-1906,” Manitoba History, first issue, 1980, p. 11. For important contextual information, see Alan Metcalfe, Canada Learns to Play: The Emergence of Organized Sport, 1807-1914 (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Ltd., 1987), esp. p. 69; Donald J. Mrozek, Sport and American Mentality, 1880-1910 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1983).

36. FP, Feb. 9, 1895, p. 10.

37. On curling, see Mott and Allardyce, Curling Capital, esp. p. 8.

38. From the beginning, these qualities were purposely dramatized in hockey. See David Seglins, “‘Just Part of the Game’: Violence, Hockey and Masculinity in Central Canada, 1890-1910,” (M.A. thesis, Queen’s University, 1995), esp. pp. 24, 82, 135, 137.

39. FP, July 16, 1920, p. 12.

40. Woodside, “Hockey in the Canadian North-West,” p. 242; FP, Jan. 25, 1892, p.5, April 11, 1904, p. 6.

41. FP, Feb. 26, 1892, p. 5.

42. Manitoba Liberal, Dec. 30, 1893, p. 1; Dauphin Press, March 12, 1903, p. 1; FP, Feb. 26, 1897, p. 5, Jan. 20, 1899, p. 5, Jan. 30, 1899, p. 5, March 7, 1911, p. 7; Brandon Sun, Feb. 24, 1898, p. 6; Souris Plaindealer, Jan. 18, 1894, p. 4, Feb. 16, 1900, p. 8.

43. See FP, March 18, 1893, p. 5, Jan. 23, 1899, p. 6. On females and sport, see Allen Guttman, Women’s Sports: A History (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), esp. chaps. 7 and 8; Neil Tranter, Sport, Economy and Society in Britain, 1750-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), chap. 6. On women and hockey in Canada, see Brian McFarlane, Proud Past, Bright Future: One Hundred Years of Canadian Women’s Hockey (Toronto: Stoddart Publishing Co. Limited, 1994).

44. Tribune, Feb. 7, 1898, p. 3. See also FP, Dec. 19, 1892, p. 5, Jan. 18, 1901, p. 1.

45. See Souris Plaindealer, Feb. 25, 1898, p. 8; Neepawa Register, Feb. 11, 1904, p. 1.

46. FP, Nov. 21, 1908, sports section, p. 1, Nov. 28, 1908, sports section, p. 1, Dec. 5, 1908, sports section, p. 1, Dec. 30, 1913, p. 6; City of Winnipeg, Annual Report, Public Parks Board,1920, p. 72; Winnipeg Saturday Post, Oct. 11, 1913, p. 5; Catherine Macdonald, A City at Leisure: An Illustrated History of Parks and Recreation Services in Winnipeg, 1893-1993 (Winnipeg: City of Winnipeg, 1995), pp. 37-38.

47. Dauphin Press, July 25, 1912, p. 1; Brandon Sun, May 2, 1912, pt. 1, p. 7, May 30, 1912, pt. 2, p. 2.

48. Virden Empire-Advance, July 9, 1914, p. 1; G.F. Barker, The Story of Rivers (Rivers: G. F. Barker, 1963), pp. 11, 42.

49. See History of the Riverside Municipality (Margaret: RM of Riverside, 1967), pp. 178-181; Marion W. Abra (ed.) A View of the Birdtail: A History of the Municipality of Birtle, The Town of Birtle and the Villages of Foxwarren and Solsgirth, 1878-1974 (Birtle: History Committee of the Municipality of Birtle, 1974), p. 204; Bridging the Years, p. 83; Beulah Women’s Institute, Minttewashta Memories, 1879-1970 (Beulah: Beulah Women’s Institute, 1970), p. 90; Elgin Centennial Committee, Echoes of Elgin (Elgin: Elgin Centennial Committee, 1970), p. 40.

50. FP, Oct. 23, 1893, p. 5, Dec. 23, 1893, pt. 1, p. 6, Dec. 12, 1896, p. 5.

51. FP, Dec. 30, 1893, p. 6, Nov. 7, 1893, p. 5, Dec. 23, 1893, pt. 1, p. 6, Nov. 14, 1900, p. 5, Dec. 12, 1900, p. 5.

52. FP, Oct. 31, 1898, p. 5, Dec. 31, 1898, p. 5, Dec. 25, 1909, p. 17; Winnipeg Saturday Post, Feb. 28, 1914, p. 4; Ed Sweeney, “Those Grand Old Winnipeg Hockey Rinks,” SIHR Plus (Newsletter of the Society for International Hockey Research), vol. 3, no. 1 (March 1994), pp. 6-7.

53. FP, Oct. 10, 1905, p. 5, Oct. 26, 1905, p. 5, Nov. 28, 1905, p. 6, Dec. 5, 1908, p. 2 of sports section, Dec. 25,1909, p.17, Oct. 26,1910,p. 6, Nov. 29, 1910, p. 6; Winnipeg Saturday Post, Nov. 20, 1909, p. 11, Dec. 31, 1910, p. 5, Feb. 28, 1914, p. 4.

54. Manitoba Curling Association, Centennial Yearbook, 1888-1998, p. 43.

55. FP, Nov. 19, 1903, p. 5, Oct. 26, 1905, p. 5, Oct. 27, 1910, p. 6, Nov. 29, 1910, p. 6.

56. History Book Committee at Neepawa, Heritage: A History of the Town of Neepawa and District (Neepawa: History Book Committee, 1983), p. 344; Darlingford Saga, p. 374; “The Alexander Rink” in Whitehead Wanderings 1883-1983 (no publisher, 1983?), p. 5; Dauphin Herald and Press, “Jubilee Edition,” July 8, 1948, p. 6; In Praise of Pioneers (Cypress River: Cypress River United Church, 1965), p. 71; FP, March 20, 1893, p. 5.

57. See many of the sources listed in notes 28, 30, 49, 56, as well as Oak Lake History Committee, Ox Trails to Blacktop (Oak Lake: Oak Lake History Committee, 1982), p. 74; Allen Lee, “History of the Skating Rinks of Pierson,” in R.M. of Edward History Book Committee, Harvests of Time: History of the R.M. of Edward (Pierson: R.M. of Edward History Book Committee, 1983), p. 122.

58. See The Miniota Herald, Oct. 12-Nov. 16, 1906, for indications of the considerations made when building a rink in a small town.

59. A winter’s activities at a skating/curling rink are mentioned in many of the sources listed in notes 28, 30, 49, 56, 57. See especially Minnewashta Memories, pp. 88-91, and Our First Century, p. 289. In addition, see Glenboro and Area Historical Society, Beneath the Long Grass (Glenboro: Glenboro and Area Historical Society, 1979), pp. 165-166.

60. Winnipeg always had more than one team at the top caliber of play. These teams had their own definite supporters, but the attachments between players and fans do not seem to have been based on place of residence or social class. Certain players such as Tony Gingras, the Franco-Manitoban (actually mixed-blood) star of the Winnipeg Victorias, obviously brought a certain amount of support to specific teams from particular ethnic groups, but for the most part fans seem to have been drawn to a team because of a style of play associated with it.

61. See FP, Dec. 30, 1913, p. 6; Saturday Post, Nov. 9, 1912, pp. 6-7.

62. I have checked the occupations of players listed for 22 competitive teams over the years. There is no indication that people were chosen or not chosen because of their class. In a general way, when discussing participation patterns in sports, historians have concentrated far too much on class and too little on age, ethnicity, and religion.

63. FP, April 7, 1908, p. 7.

64. FP, Nov. 3, 1909, p. 6, May 31, 1902, p. 20; Dauphin Press, Aug. 27,1908, p. 1; Neepawa Press, March 27, 1914, p. 1; Professor Joliffe, “On Sport,” Vox Wesleyana, vol. XIII, no. 2 (Dec. 1908), pp. 25-26.

65. See Richard Gruneau and David Whitson, Hockey Night in Canada: Sport, Identities, and Cultural Politics (Toronto: Garamond Press, 1993), p. 67.

66. Souris Plaindealer, March 11, 1904, p. 5, Feb. 23, 1906, p. 1, March 16, 1906, p. 4; Manitou Western Canadian, March 14, 1907, p. 1; Russell Banner, Feb. 15, 1912, p. 1; Neepawa Register, March 10, 1904, p. 1; Dauphin Press, Feb. 13, 1908, p. 1.

67. FP, Jan. 30, 1893, p. 5, Jan. 7, 1896, p. 5, Feb. 15, 1896, p. 1, Feb. 6, 1899, pp. 5, 7, Feb. 21, 1899, pp. 1, 3, May 31, 1902, p. 20; Manitoba Liberal, March 3, 1894, p. 1; Brandon Sun, April 15, 1897, p. 7.

68. Neepawa Press, March 8, 1904, p. 1; Morris Herald, Jan. 21, 1907, p. 1.

69. See Tribune, Feb. 21, 1895, p. 4, Feb. 20, 1899, pp. 1, 5; Neepawa Press, March 8, 1904, p. 1, March 8, 1907, p. 1.

70. See Dauphin Press, March 7, 1907, p. 1; Neepawa Press, March 8, 1907, p. 1; FP, March 14, 1892, p. 5, Dec. 23, 1895, p. 5, Feb. 20, 1899, pp 12, Feb. 21, 1899, pp 1, 3; Tribune Feb. 21, 1895, p. 4; Manitou Western Canadian, Jan. 31, 1907, p. 1.

71. See FP, Feb. 7, 1880, p.1, Dec. 10, 1888, p.4, Feb.12, 1896, p. 2 of Special Ice Sports Number; F.B.B., “Winter Pastimes in Manitoba,” Canadian Magazine, X (1898), p. 286; Brandon Sun, April 15, 1897, p. 7; “Weather and Climate,” Western World, I (March 1890), pp. 10-11; Tribune, Aug. 25, 1896, p. 4.

72. The tours can be followed in the daily Winnipeg newspapers, Feb. 9- 28, 1893, Feb. 1-12, 1895.

73. Fitsell, Hockey’s Captains, p. 94; McKinley, Putting A Roof on Winter, p. 33; FP, Feb. 23, 1893, p. 5; Douglas Hunter, A Breed Apart: An Illustrated History of Goaltending (Toronto: Penguin Books Canada Ltd., 1995), p. 20. The erroneous information can be found in Charles L. Coleman, The Trail of the Stanley Cup, vol. 1 (Sherbrooke, Quebec: National Hockey League, 1964), p. 5; Ed Sweeney, “Senior Hockey and the Allan Cup,” in Diamond (ed.), Total Hockey, p. 40; D’Arcy Jennish, The Stanley Cup: A Hundred Years of Hockey at Its Best (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Inc., 1992), p. 18.

74. Fitsell, Hockey’s Captains, p. 95; Vaughan, The Puck Stops Here, p. 67.

75. Vaughan, The Puck Stops Here, p. 67; Coleman, The Trail of the Stanley Cup, vol. 1, picture on p. 67; Vaughan, “Ice-Hockey in Nova Scotia,” in Diamond (ed.) Total Hockey, p. 5.

76. Fitsell, Hockey’s Captains, p. 96; Vaughan, The Puck Stops Here, pp. 67, 123.

77. Fitsell, Hockey’s Captains, p. 94; McKinley, Putting a Roof on Winter, p. 33.

78. See Brian McFarlane, Stanley Cup Fever: 100 Years of Hockey Greatness (Toronto: Stoddart Publishing Co. Limited, 1992), chap. 1; Jennish, The Stanley Cup, pp. 10-12.

79. Of course, once a team had won the Cup it was, in a sense, playing for it in every game. This was because if it lost its league series to another team, then the other team became recognized as the defending champion. I am speaking here only of Stanley Cup games or series against teams from outside the Manitoba leagues.

80. The “home” team was the Winnipeg Victorias on three different occasions, and the Kenora Thistles once. Kenora was the champion of a Manitoba league, and the Kenora games of March, 1907, were played in Winnipeg because of the size of Kenora’s rink.

81. For examples of interest, see Jennish, The Stanley Cup, pp. 16-73, passim; FP, Feb. 15, 1896, p. 1, Dec. 31, 1896, pp. 1, 5, Jan. 1, 1897, p. 5, Feb. 16, 1899, p. 5, Feb. 13, 1900, p. 3, Feb. 1, 1901, p. 6, Jan. 24, 1902, p. 1, Jan. 25, 1902, p. 6, Jan. 24, 1903, p. 5, March 13, 1905, pp. 1, 5; Brandon Sun, March 17, 1904, p. 12; Heimskringla, Feb. 7, 1901, p. 4; Logberg, Feb, 5, 1903, p. 8; Le Manitoba, Feb. 6, 1901, p. 5; Tribune, March 26, 1907, p. 6, R. S. Lappage, “The Kenora Thistles Stanley Cup Trail,” Canadian Journal of History of Sport, vol. XIX, no. 2 (Dec. 1988), esp. pp 82-92.

82. Every series of Stanley Cup games in which Manitoba teams competed can be followed in Coleman, The Trail of the Stanley Cup, chaps. 5-17.

83. Ernie Fitzsimmons, “Early Pro Leagues: The First Days of Play-forPay Hockey,” in Diamond (ed.), Total Hockey, Second Edition, pp. 32-34; FP, Nov. 23, 1903, p. 5, Dec. 25, 1905, p. 6; Brandon Sun, Nov. 26, 1903, p. 1.

84. See FP, June 24, 1889, p. 1; Emerson Journal, Feb. 28, 1908, p. 8, March 6, 1908, p. 1.

85. FP, May 31, 1902, p. 20. See also Morris Mott, “The Problems of Professionalism: The Manitoba Amateur Athletic Association and the Fight Against Pro Hockey 1904-1911,” in E. A. Corbet and A. W. Rasporich (eds.), Winter Sports in the West (Calgary: Historical Society of Alberta and University of Calgary, 1990), esp. pp. 135-136.

86. FP, March 29, 1911, p. 6; Tribune, March 16, 1907, p. 6; Neepawa Press, March 27, 1914, p. 1.

87. See Metcalfe, Canada Learns to Play, pp. 119-131.

88. See Richard Holt, Sport and the British: A Modern History (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), pp. 103-117; Hugh Cunningham, Leisure in the Industrial Revolution c. 1780-c. 1880 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1980), pp. 134-135; Peter Bailey, Leisure and Class in Victorian England: Rational Recreation and the Contest for Control, 1830-1885 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978), pp. 131-146.

89. FP, Dec. 2, 1905, p. 7, Jan. 24, 1914, p. 6.

90. Neepawa Press, March 11, 1913, p. 2. See also FP, Dec. 9, 1905, p. 6, and Saturday Post, Jan. 25, 1908, p. 7,May 9, 1908, p. 10, Dec. 12, 1908, p. 10.

91. Saturday Post, Jan. 9, 1909, p. 10. See also Saturday Post, May 14, 1910, p. 15, and FP, April 12, 1907, p. 6.

92. Saturday Post, June 27, 1908, p. 10.

93. FP, Nov. 28, 1905, p. 6, Nov. 27, 1905, p. 7, Nov. 12, 1906, p. 6, Jan. 16, 1909, p. 7, Nov. 16, 1911, p. 7.

94. FP, Nov. 12, 1906, p. 6, Nov. 13, 1906, p. 1, Dec. 3, 1906, p. 6; Brandon Times, Nov. 15, 1906, p. 8; Brandon Sun, Dec. 6, 1906,p. 2; Gruneau and Whitson, Hockey Night in Canada, pp. 75-77; Metcalfe, Canada Learns to Play, pp. 113-116; Don Morrow, “A Case Study in Amateur Conflict: The Athletic War in Canada, 1906-08,” The British Journal of Sport History, vol. III, no. 2 (Sept. 1986), pp. 173-190.

95. Ernie Fitzsimmons, “Early Professional, Early Senior, WHA and Modern Minor Professional League Standings,” in Diamond (ed.) Total Hockey, pp. 384-385; Fitzsimmons, “Early Pro Leagues,” in Diamond (ed.) Total Hockey, Second Edition, pp. 32-35.

96. FP, Jan. 4, 1908, p. 6, Jan. 28, 1909, p. 6, Oct. 25, 1909, p. 6; Saturday Post, Feb. 29, 1908, p. 7, March 7, 1908, p. 11; Fitzsimmons, “Early Professional... Standings,” in Diamond (ed.) Total Hockey, pp. 384-385.

97. Brandon Sun, Oct. 31, 1912, pt. 1, p. 2. See also Saturday Post, Jan. 8, 1910, p. 11.

98. On the early history of the Allan Cup, and on the origins of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association which was designed to administer play-downs for the Cup, see Scott Young, 100 Years of Dropping the Puck: A History of the OHA (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Inc., 1989), pp. 101-113; Dave Clamen, “Montreal Senior Leagues to 1918: Amateur Hockey in the Era of Professionals,” in Diamond (ed.), Total Hockey, Second Edition, p. 44.

99. Sweeney, “Senior Hockey and the Allan Cup,” in Diamond (ed.). Total Hockey, p. 46.

100. FP, March 16, 1912, p. 17.

Page revised: 16 October 2016