The Cradle of

Professional Hockey



"In those days the Ottawa Valley was the cradle of hockey. I think at that time the Valley developed at least fifty per cent of the hockey players in Canada."

— Frank Finnigan

     That professional hockey was conceived in the Ottawa Valley was no accident. Geography, climate, character, and good old-fashioned wealth conspired to nourish what soon became Canada's national spoil. The Ottawa Valley is a unique homogeneous area, as large as England, the watershed for the mighty Ottawa River and its twenty-six tributaries stretching from Montreal to Bancroft, from Brockville to Timmins. Following the first waves of explorers, traders, and settlers into the St. Lawrence River Valley, subsequent newcomers flowed up the Ottawa to settle on both the Quebec and Ontario sides of the river.

      Most Ottawa Valley settlers — chiefly Irish and Scots immigrants of little means — made their living from the land, scratching out a subsistence from farming during a short summer season, supplemented by winter work in the lumber industry, felling tall white pine, driving timber down river, sawing lumber at the many mills throughout the region. This industry was founded by families, the Gillies of Braeside, the MacLarens of Buckingham, the Boyles of Maniwaki, the Conroys of Aylmer, the McLachlins of Arnprior, the Barnets and the O'Briens of Renfrew, and J.R. Booth of Ottawa. The lumbering industry also fostered legendary lumbering giants of the Ottawa Valley like Joseph Montferrand (Big Joe Mufferaw), Mountain Jack Thomson of Portage-du-Fort, Wild Bill Ferguson of Calabogie, Big Michael Jennings of Sheenborough, Cockeye George McNee of Arnprior, the Twelve MacDonnell Brothers of Sand Point.

      Timber money was often instrumental in fostering hockey in The Valley — M.J. O'Brien, for example, founded the National Hockey Association and was the first team owner to try to "buy"

  Toqued, furred, wrapped in buffalo robes, this merry group of young people might well be on their  way to cheer their local hockey team on to victory.
An afternoon hockey game most likely, on Saturday or Sunday, being played on the Fort Coulonge rink and their opponents in the white uniforms have come up the line from Quyon.

      The Stanley Cup when he formed the Renfrew Millionaires. And the heroic character the lumber giants assumed in legend was transferred to hockey heroes like Hockey Hall of Fame members H.H. "Harry" Cameron, F. H. "Hughie" Lehman, and Frank Nighbor of Pembroke; Edouard "Newsy" Lalonde and Cyril "Cy"

       Denneny of Cornwall; referees M. J. "Mike" Rodden of Mattawa and J. Cooper Smeaton of Carleton Place; and founding owner J. Ambrose O'Brien of Renfrew and Frank "Cyclone" Taylor, enticed to play for the Renfrew Millionaires by O'Brien wealth and cunning.

       Perhaps because of the long, cold winters with no shortage of water to freeze into ice rinks, perhaps because of the kind of


Father and daughter fry

out their improvised sail,

created to hasten their

skating speed over the

smooth frozen surface of

the Ottawa River.



Every hamlet, every

village, every town, every

mine in the Ottawa

Valley had a hockey rink.

This one at the Starelle

Mine near Sudbury is

certainly wired for night




"sporting" character the lumber industry created, the Ottawa Valley became the cradle of hockey in Canada, providing the various amateur and professional leagues — the Amateur Hockey Association, the Eastern Canada Association, the Canadian Amateur Hockey League, the Federal Hockey League, the National Hockey Association, and the National Hockey League after 1917 — with nearly 50% of their players between 1880 and 1920.

This old photograph is of Fort Coulonge's first hockey team and their supporters, many of whom traveled the long cold miles by horse and sleigh to Quyon, Shawville, Portage-du-Fort, to cheer their team to victory. Note the more affluent members of Fort Coulonge's "sporting people" in their fur coats and hats.

The Valley also stocked the great Ottawa teams — the Rideau Rebels, the Ottawa City Hockey Club, the Silver Seven, and the Ottawa Senators — with some of their greatest players. During this era, the Ottawa Valley was a ferment of amateur hockey. Cross-roads hamlets tried to equip and field teams to play neighboring hamlets and rivalries grew up between villages supporting pickup teams. Small towns built and regularly iced outdoor rinks, some with lights strung around the perimeter for night games. The speedy and reliable post office of those clays delivered challenges to rival teams, and fans laid heavy bets. The sportswriter was born, reporting for small town weeklies and big city dailies. Governors-General in the Capital and Horatio Algers in the lumbering and mining towns of the Valley became promoters and financiers of hockey teams. Leagues were formed and re-formed; teams organized and disbanded. Cups were cast in pure silver.
       Leagues sprang up like dandelions in June: church leagues — Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist — you name it; inter-class leagues in elementary schools; high-school leagues; university leagues (McGill, Queen's, Toronto); an Upper Ottawa Valley League; a Lower Ottawa League; inter-village leagues; inter-town leagues; inter-city leagues; inter-regimental leagues; county leagues. In Pembroke the highly popular Debating Club fielded a Debaters' Team, and in Ottawa the leading merchants began a mercantile team league, including the Ottawa Electrics made up of employees of the Ottawa Electric Street Railway Company.
         In the beginning local merchants most often provided team



Quyon Hockey team, about 1906-07. Bottom row, LEFT TO RIGHT— Herby Moyle, Billy Boland. Second row — Frank Doyle, William Pimlott, Pug Pimlott, Angus McLean (later to run the Quyon ferry for fifty years), Pete Moran. Third row — Eddy Grant, Milliard Walsh, Frank Kennedy.


sweaters and team equipment, as well as very scant traveling expenses, maybe tickets to travel on the train from Perth to Brock-ville to play there and come back the same night. It was a landmark experience for young men if there was ever entertained the thought of slaying overnight in a strange and far-off hotel.
      The invention of the fur coat with inside flask pocket was no accident. On outdoor rinks avid fans stood for hours on the snow and ice where screaming, yelling, and jumping was not only player inspiration but a manner of keeping warm in below zero weather. Whiskey was sustenance for fans traveling to games by horse and sleigh or on trains with little or no heat. "Mr. Renfrew," the late Les Fraser of the Fraser Men's Wear stores in Renfrew and Shawville, once told me of how, absolutely undaunted, hockey fans from Renfrew traveled by train to Ottawa and then for hours more by train from Ottawa to Montreal to see a professional game between the Ottawa Senators and one of the two Montreal teams, the Maroons or the Canadiens.
       And recently at the Bonnechere Manor in Renfrew, Harvey Ferguson, a descendant of the first settlers along the Opeongo Line at the river-front near Farrells' Landing, described how he and his entire family used to bundle themselves up, heat bricks for the sleigh and for the game, cross the Ottawa River by ice in the enveloping dusk, nearly freeze rinkside as the bricks they often stood on cooled down — and all to see Frankie Finnigan, "the greatest," play for Shawville. Then, often in the pitch black, the temperature having plummeted, the Fergusons, huddled together for warmth, their faces frozen into silence, would make their return journey across the Ottawa through the untrammelled winds of that mighty River, over an almost imaginary "ice road" navigated by a driver and horses with all their experience handy and sixth senses alerted.

The Davises of Fort Coulonge, first settlers there along with the Proudfoots, the Jewels, the Frosts, the Coltons, and the Brysons, were. renowned throughout the Valley as hockey players, fans, supporters, and organizers. The late Fred Davis, one of the family, told me this hockey story, entwined with horse-racing and what must have been some very challenging bicycling:

      When I was a boy, Fort Coulonge was a great hockey town. One of the first covered rinks in the county was here; my dad owned it. But the townspeople, because they couldn't agree on what percentage my father should have, went onto the river and built an open-air rink in spite. So our great one, Harold Darragh, went to the Ottawa Senators.
      Coulonge used to play Shawville, Quyon, even a team from Kazubazua. We would take a train to Ottawa and then get to Gatineau whatever way we could. A team of good horses driving a bunch can't go much more than six miles an hour, so you can imagine how long it took us to get to Shawville, Campbell's Bay, Quyon! The women were the coldest because they used to get fancied up for the games. They would warm up a bunch of bricks and put them in the bottom of the sleighs and cutters and stand on them. There was a terrible rivalry between Shawville and Portage-du-Fort; they were always Fighting. 1 remember my mother telling me how one of the Toner boys from Portage had to hide in the basement all day because they were coming from Shawville to get him. I don't know what he did the night before!
       My father was a kind of jack-of-all-trades. He was slide master at the Coulonge Chute and he raced horses. That's how he met my mother. Near Portage-du-Fort on the road to Stoney Batter there used to be race track there. One Sunday my father went down with a good horse, a winner, and of course the women were all milling around him.
       I got into race horses myself through Billy Sharpe, the blacksmith here. He was probably one of the greatest characters ever lived around here. And his father before him, the village blacksmith too. Billy was a great man with the ladies, a great man with the horses, a great storyteller. When he'd meet you on the street he'd always say, "Any choice news today, me lad?" Everybody had to go to Billy. Everybody sat around in Sharpe's. There was another old lad like Sharpe in Shawville — Harper Rennick, the blacksmith there.
      I remember one great winter's day with Billy Sharpe when I was a young lad. At Quyon on the river they used to have harness races on the ice the same as they have now on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. Billy Sharpe was going to drive a team down and then race. 1 was quite young and I had to beg my father and mother to let me go. When we got to Quyon there was a hockey game going on in the rink there. Billy Sharpe left me to hold the team and went to see what was going on. I remember he came out to me and said, "My God! There's a young fellow in there can play hockey!" It turned out to be Frankie Finnigan. Billy Sharpe won the race with his black horse, and he went home happy.
       In the summertime, of course, the slides were all dry and we used to gel on our bicycles and shoot down them for half a mile. You had to be able to put on your brakes, though, at the bottom!

In his memoirs, Edgar Boyle of Ottawa recalls with enthusiasm the social and sporting life associated with hockey in Maniwaki, the base for his family's lumbering operations:

       Social life in the small villages was not very active in those days. There was not much time for it — working hours were far too long (seven to six). However, there were four regular places where everyone met at one time or another. They were the post office at mail time, the railway station at night when the Ottawa train arrived, the church steps after service on Sundays, and, in winter, the hockey rink. That was about the extent of it. There were no shows, no radios, very little card playing; actually very little social life.
     There was a great rivalry between the two villages of Davidson and Maniwaki in sports. They played hockey and baseball, and played hard against each other. They also combined, under the Maniwaki name, to play against other Valley towns and also


Fort Coulonge Hockey Team, 1930. Benny Duke, Tony Davis, Theo Spotswood, Ed Davis, Lionel Chevrier, Cuddy Harry, Frank Davis, Tommy Jules, Rossie Coll, Tommy Larmeau. This team actually traveled all the way down the Valley — by train, no doubt — to play Cornwall, Ontario.

against teams from Ottawa. They had a good baseball field, a splendid fairgrounds, and, even as far back as 1907, they had a very good indoor hockey and skating rink. The rink, which was in a substantial building, was situated on the Desert River Road, midway between the two villages. As a matter of fact, it was the first of three closed links built on the same spot. Two of them burned down.

      I think it might be in order here to recall some of the more prominent players of that era. In hockey, there were the Gilmours (Billie, Suddie, and Ward), Jim Nault, Redmond Daly, Jim Quaile, Mike Lawless, Wally Lawless, Bob Mooney, Gray Masson, Lionel Bonhomme, Fred Rochon, Joe Gendron, et cetera, et cetera. The quality of hockey played in that era was of very high caliber. It was a notable fact that Billie and Suddie Gilmour had both played for the Ottawa Silver Seven, the world's champions of that day. The other members of the Maniwaki Hockey Team were relatively good . ..

     Hockey at Maniwaki was perhaps more glamorous than the other sports. I believe one could divide the hockey of the early days into three separate eras. The first group, who played from about 1907 until about 1919, was comprised of Billie and Suddie


Unfortunately, other than "Maniwaki Hockey Team," there is no documentation for this photograph of players seated in front of a group of proud, sartorial men who must have been the team's backers, perhaps coach and manager. Whatever the date, Maniwaki has won and everyone is sporting ribbons and proudly displaying the championship cup.


Gilmour, Mike Lawless, Fred Rochon, Redmond Daley, Joe McFaul, Bob Mooney, and Tresor Godbout. Their competition was mainly from Ottawa city teams. The Valley teams of that day were must not good enough to compete. During all of this period Jim Donovan was the referee, and sometimes the visiting teams didn't get the best of the decisions. The second era, which lasted from 1920 until 1926, was graced by such players as Ward Gilmour, Charlie Logue, Jim Nault, Wally Lawless, Jim Quaile, and Lionel Bonhomme. This group, with the exception of Wally Lawless, had previously played senior hockey in either the Montreal or the Ottawa City League. I have forgotten to mention Gray Masson, who played for Maniwaki for four years. Gray, Jim Nault, and Ward Gilmour had previously played in the Ottawa City League. Jim Quaile had played with McGill University in the Intercollegiate, and Charlie Logue had played for Loyola College in Montreal. They were no mean group of hockey players and could entertain fast company. They had some illustrious years and brought great credit to the town.
      The third era, with which I was associated, lasted from 1927 until 1934. Some of the better-known players in this group were Joe Gendron, Jim Quaile, Ken Taylor, Doc Luduc, Gerard Hubert, Joe Joanis, Truman Raymond, Leo Lacroix, Paul Valliancourt, Tommy Westwick, Bob Forest, Wally Lawless, Ray Lawless, Skip Britt, and Allan Lauriault. Perhaps the most successful year was 1933, when Maniwaki won the championship of the Gatineau, beat Shawville, the Pontiac champions, and then went on to meet Brockville, who were champions of the Ottawa and St. Lawrence districts.

Frank Finnigan also fondly remembered his early career as a hockey player in The Valley, recalling in this interview his first "away" game when the Shawville team crossed the frozen Ottawa River to play Westmeath:

       When I was growing up in Shawville, there were no organized teams on all levels — peewee, junior, intermediate, senior, that sort of thing — the way it is today. But we lived hockey — and without any padding. Hockey on the creeks, hockey on the ponds, hockey on the rivers, hockey on the road — if necessary. We even flooded the Cowan's big black shed and made the first "covered" rink in Shawville. That was before Shawville built the first covered arena in all of Pontiac County. It held 300 standing up and was lit with coal oil lamps overhead. We used to shoot them out, partly for practice, and partly so the other team could see so poorly they'd lose. Of course, we cut off our own noses to spite our faces. But we were young and didn't know any better. Besides, we'd do anything to win. Anything.
       Without any organized leagues, we were always looking to throw down a challenge for a game, any chance we got, to Bryson, Campbell's Bay, Portage-du-Fort, Quyon, anything within range because, remember, there were no cars in those days; players either went by horse and sleigh or by train — if they could afford it — and that was seldom. Remember, we are talking about times when many kids didn't have skates because their parents couldn't buy them and when even buying a new stick was a budgeting problem. That's how I learned to only use one stick a year and I continued that even when I was in the National Hockey League playing for the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
       I was only twelve, the youngest on the team, when the big challenge came from across the Ottawa River from Westmeath, Ontario, to play a game there. If you know your geography of The Valley at all, that meant taking the train up to Fort Coulonge, Quebec, crossing the Ottawa River by ice and then traveling into Westmeath. The Shawville team was called Cy's Pets, after Cy Hodgins who did some of the financing — Shawville was the center of a large prosperous English Protestant farming community — and most of the businessmen were hockey crazy. Besides, most of them were my relatives. We were the pride of Shawville, a very proud town anyhow, and the merchants had outfitted us all out in fine hockey sweaters with socks to match. Some of us even had the expensive fifty cent hockey sticks.
       I remember my teammates so well — Hoddy Rennick, Albert Chisnell, Art Turriff, Archie Dagg, Lyal Hodgins, Rock Findlay, Clark Cowan, all dead now, except me. All fine fellows.
       Well that January night in 1913 we were pretty excited, I tell you, as we got on that train all together at 7:15 sharp, headed up the Ottawa Valley to Fort Coulonge. A big dangerous journey for young lads, you know. Clark Cowan's mother wasn't even going to let him go. But then she was like that. Never let go. None of them married, you know. We had to pull him onto the train by one leg. She was holding on to the other. She even brought some heated bricks to the train to keep her son warm on this terrifying journey into the arctic of upriver. Poor Clark! He turned scarlet in front of the team. We felt for him — being sissified that way. But young boys are cruel too. After that we dubbed him "Precious" — and he had to beat some of us up for that.
       Willie Hodgins, my uncle — all the Hodgins are related to me, you know, all fifty thousand of them now scattered across the country — went with us. He owned the hardware store in Shawville, and he was along to keep us all in line and to see that we had a safe journey.
       At the Fort Coulonge station we were met by a flat sleigh and team of horses driven by a hockey buff from Westmeath come to pick us up. In the dark of the moonless night we drove through Fort Coulonge and out onto the wide, dark, deep Ottawa River to do a two-mile crossing to the Ontario side. It wasn't the first time I had gone to and from a hockey game in the dark night of the wintertime in The Valley. Sometimes it was so cold, you'd get off and run behind the sleigh to keep warm, to keep your feet from freezing before the game. Remember in those days we didn't have wind-proof, arctic-proof, weather-proof, rain-proof garb and gear. Just your long johns, a flannel shirt, and whatever kind of jacket your parents could afford, or that turned up in the stores in town that year. The worst part on a cold winter's night was the return journey after a game. You'd worked up a real sweat during the game — remember in those days we were all Sixty Minute Men — we had no subs — and then you'd get on the sleigh in wet, damp,


Shawville, out of all proportion to its size, was consistently renowned as a hockey town, perhaps because it was so well supported by its businessmen. This is a 1911 photograph of the Shawville Pets, backed by Shawville merchants. LEFT TO RIGHT— Frank Finnigan, Hoddy Rennick, Albert Chisnell, Art Turriff, Archie Dagg, Lyal Hodgins, Rock Findlay, Clark Cowan. Finnigan is only eleven in this photograph but is already playing with fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds.


sweaty clothes, and your teeth would start to chatter and you'd start to shake, and the chills would set in, and, even worn out from playing a whole game, the only way to survive was to get off and run behind the sleigh. Sometimes there were buffalo robes — if we were lucky — and you'd crawl under those and continue shivering. I often wonder how we didn't die of pneumonia. But we were young and tough, then.
This special night of the Westmeath game was, yes, during January, the heart of winter, but during a January thaw, and that warm, unnatural soft wind was blowing about us. And that poses all kinds of problems for crossing the Ottawa on the ice. It means melt. And sure enough, as we descended onto the river and began the journey across on the ice bridge, we found that there was at least a foot of water on the ice surface. Maybe two. Scary.
     We grew silent and hung onto our hockey sticks tight, listening to the sleigh bells in the wind, and the jingle of the harness, and the muffled sound of the horses hooves, drowned in slush. The driver was silent, too, intent upon watching the ice bridge and keeping within the markers set up for travelers from the Quebec side to the Ontario side.
      We thought of all the stories we had heard back home of ice bubbles and horses, sleighs and men going down. We thought of the drowning of the Downey Boys through the ice, all four of them. But we were young warriors going to war and, although we were scared into cocoons of silence, we knew it might happen to others but never to us.

      When we got to the Westmeath rink, we quickly laced on our skates and jumped on the ice for a warm-up that was really a warm up. But the Junior team, for some reason or other, perhaps they were afraid of us — didn't show at all. So some of the townsfolk, feeling badly about our long journey and the let down, scrambled around town and picked up members of the Westmeath Senior team. Guys fifteen, sixteen, even seventeen. It was 10:30 by the time we got the game started. Naturally, we lost. But only by a score of 7-3. It was one o'clock by the time we finished the game, and the diehards went home to their warm beds.
      Sweating, clammy, and tired, we climbed back onto the flat sleigh and drove back across the ice bridge to Fort Coulonge where we were billeted in the old Fort Coulonge Hotel, the Pearson, which has since burned down. Even hungry and thirsty, we were so tired we just fell onto the beds in our damp clothes. Uncle Willie forced us to undress and got us some extra blankets from the hotel-keeper.
      But I was still so high from the game 1 couldn't sleep at first and lay under the blankets, trying to stop shivering and thinking of the ghosts in the room. For, you see, Fort Coulonge was a big lumbering town — it still is to this day — a big rough lumbering town, and I knew that all the lumbering giants like the Seven Frost Brothers of Pembroke, and Mountain Jack Thomson of Portage-du-Fort, and the timber barons like Gillies and Bryson and Fraser had all stayed over in this hotel. Jesus! I thought as I fell asleep, maybe Big Joe Mufferaw even slept in this bed!
      That was my first "away" game. We were only twelve to fourteen years old. But we had become MEN over night. We had gone, all expenses paid, to meet the adversary and stayed at the Pearson Hotel. I didn't know then that years later I was to share space in the great hotels of North America with my teetotalling teammate Frank "King" Clancy, and with fans who were to become my friends, like multi-millionaire Harry McLean of "Mr. X" fame.
      When I was a little older we had our revenge on the West-meath Senior team. We went back to their town and beat them soundly. I cannot remember that winning score. I think in those beginning days 1 just remembered the scores of games we lost, and plotted return victories.

W.J. Conroy of Aylmer, Quebec, a descendant of the Conroy lumbering family, recalls another classic Ottawa Valley hockey rivalry, in this case between Aylmer and Shawville:

      And Aylmer was a hockey town. I think of the well-known ones like Frank Finnigan; he was at Shawville. I played hockey up in Shawville myself and it used to be a rough place. They came down to Aylmer one time, a team from Shawville — they were all about six-foot-four inches, you know — and they came down here and they played the Aylmer Seniors, and they gave them a pretty rough time in Aylmer, you see. So we were invited up to Proudfoot's Hotel in Shawville, and it was a new hotel at the time. Well, the Seniors wouldn't go back; they wanted to know if we were crazy to go up there and get killed. So we picked up a bunch of the Intermediates. We were pretty young and stupid too. Shawville really worked us over.
      After the game we went into the Shawville restaurant and we ordered ham and eggs and these bottles of pink soda pop for everybody who was in there. I don't know whose idea it was, but anyway none of us had any money because we were still in our hockey clothes, you see. We had rooms in Proudfoot's Hotel. So somebody started to sing in French, "Open the door and we'll all run out," and, of course, everybody from Aylmer understood, but the fellows up there in Shawville didn't. So all of a sudden somebody opened the door and everybody took off for the hotel and we charged into the hotel and ran up the stairs. We had some pretty fat players, you know, and I can remember one fellow ran under the bed to hide and the next couple of guys who came up jumped on the bed, and the bed broke and nearly decapitated the fellow underneath. Proudfoot wanted to put us out in the middle of the night. But, anyway, I remember in the morning we got out and went down to get on the train, and we all had our pads on and we were carrying our sticks and everything. We were still armed and we never undressed all night.
      Behind the scenes, in villages, towns, and burgeoning cities the wealthy, powerful, and influential were gathered to raise money to fund their hockey teams, to buy equipment, to improve rinks, to pay travel expenses, to boost players salaries. We have only an inkling of the intensity of the betting on games in those days, for obviously most of it was unrecorded. But, on occasion, teams were accused of playing to lose because of bets that had been placed beforehand. When Haileybury met Cobalt for The Stanley Cup in the last N.H.A. game of 1910, famous mining magnate Noah Timmins, the Haileybury sponsor, was said to have bet $50,000 on the outcome. Haileybury won 14-9, and we have to presume that, in the manner of the rich getting richer, Timmins collected his bets.

This landmark game is worth evoking. At half-time the score was tied. Timmins burst info the dressing room of the Haileybury team and offered a thousand dollars to the lad who would score the tiebreaker and win the game, a game with surely one of the most bizarre endings in the history of Canadian hockey, as described by H. Roxborough in his book The Stanley Cup Story:

       The tension in the arena was unbearable. Both teams had game-winning scoring chances but goalies Chief Jones of Cobalt and Billy Nicholson of Haileybury came up with brilliant saves. Finally Art Ross passed to Horace Gaul who shot the puck past Jones. Haileybury had won!

       From the galleries crowded with Cobalt supporters, there came cries of despair. Suddenly from the weight of humanity, the railing collapsed; many fans tumbled fifteen feet to the ice and some were so seriously injured that they had to be taken to hospital on sleighs.

        As if that were not climactic enough, the hysteria continued.

       Winning fans showered pennies, dimes, quarters, even dollars on the ice. The air was filled with money and the players were trying to catch their floating fortune on the fly.

But Billy Nicholson somehow had obtained a tub and any money iced in his vicinity was quickly snared and "tubbed." When he could find no more loot, and the sweat was pouring from his brow, he calmly turned the tub and its contents upside down and sat on it so that no one could dislodge him or the

The great Ottawa Senator, Frank Nighbor, right, in baseball garb, with Dave Behan, amateur sportsman and tireless worker with young boys athletic clubs in Pembroke. In Nighbor's day, before the advent of modem day methods of training and fitness techniques, summertime sports like baseball were a preferred way of "Keeping in shape. "Nicknamed the "Pembroke Peach," Nighbor starred on five Stanley Cup winning teams and was the initial winner of the Hart and the Lady Byng trophies.

money. How much money he collected Billy never admitted. But there were guesses that he wouldn't have to work for a long time.
Those early years of the N.H.A. and N.H.L. were filled with colorful, eccentric players like Bad Joe Hall, and Harry Smith, who played for Cobalt and who used his hockey stick as much as a weapon as anything else. In a game between Cobalt and the Renfrew Millionaires, Larry Gilmour, who doubled as the team manager when he wasn't playing, was the victim of Harry Smith's free-wheeling stick. The situation worsened in the next game when Cobalt played against its arch enemy Haileybury. Players kept hitting the ice, recipients of Smith's well-aimed and foul blows. The Police Chief, Paddy Collins, was summoned to arrest Smith and take him to jail. In spite of Smith's below-the-belt tactics, Cobalt won 7-6.
      Cornwall was another Valley town which contributed a wealth of outstanding athletes to big-time hockey in Canada, players such as Edouard "Newsy" Lalonde, "Cy" and Corbett Denneny, Carson Cooper, Perce McAteer, the Constant and the Penny Brothers.
       "Hurl" and "Shinny" preceded organized hockey on the ponds and waterways of Cornwall. These games were founded on the principle of "every man for himself as hundreds of skaters would collect on the ice to chase a rubber ball for hours at a time without any semblance of timing, rules, team play.
       Adjacent to the old curling rink on First Street, Cornwall's first hockey rink was open air with two large trees growing out of


Born in Pembroke in 1895, F. H. "Hughie"Lehman (left) was an outstanding netminder for twenty-three years, thus earning the nickname, "Old Eagle-Eyes."He played on eight Stanley Cup challenging teams, but won only once with the Vancouver Millionaires in 1914-15.

H.H (Harry) Cameron (right) was born in Pembroke in 1890. During his career, he played on three Stanley Cup Champions — the Torontos of 1913-14, the Arenas of 1918-19, and the St. Patrick's of 1922-23.




the playing area. However, there exists no record of any player being seriously injured during play around them.
      Early entrepreneur John Snetsinger built the first covered rink on the north side of Fourth Street near Pitt. Snetsinger's toboggan slide at the side of the rink carried tobogganers through a field in the rear of Gillies' Foundry, across Fifth Street and out onto Fly Creek.


This Ottawa Valley League Champion team from Pembroke included players W. Wa!lace, S. Shaugnessy,

T.Jones, L. Kennedy

E. Howe, B. McPhee,

J. Puff, L. Rnnson—and almost as many executive members, namely

D. Burns, W.D. McLaren

A. Thomson, J.E. Wallace, J.R. Grieve, S. St. James, H.J. Macrie, and

President E.W. Cockburn.




     Morrisburg was Cornwall's first hockey foe in lively games with Billy Peacock in goal and Billy Adams, Billy Turner, Arthur Mattice, Fred MacLennan, John Milden, George Pettit, Fred Degan, and James Cameer in the lineup. Stuart Rayside of Lancaster and Randy McLennan of Williamstown donned Cornwall uniforms during the holiday season when they were home from university. This team was good enough to hold down


Hockey in the Ottawa Valley was a sport not only for men. Shown here is the Pembroke High School Girls Hockey Team of 1921-22. Back row, LEFT TO RIGHT — M. Wilson, S. Thomson (Manager), B. Anderson, A.J. McDonnell (Coach), J.Jones. Front Row — N. Gourlay, I. Fraser, J. Wilson, S. Workman, D. Walker.




both the champion Winnipeg hockey team and the famed Montreal Shamrocks to tie scores in exhibition games.
      Cornwall then joined the Ontario Hockey Association with Jack Hunter, Fred Degan, George Stiles, Harlow Stiles, Whitely Eastwood, Aeneas MacMillan, and Angus Allen making up the 1900-1901 team. In 1903 the same team was still in action with only one change made when Stronach Warwick replaced Fred Degan.
      This team figured in two contests against the famous Wellingtons of Toronto for the Senior Championship of the Ontario Hockey Association. In the first of the home-and-home games, played in Toronto, Cornwall held the Wellingtons to a 3-3 lie. But in the second game, played at Cornwall, the Wellingtons won what old-timers called afterwards "some of the stiffest competitions ever witnessed in Cornwall." The Wellingtons defeated Cornwall by a 3-2 score and then lost the round to the Toronto team in the third game, 6-5. The Wellingtons thus won the John Ross Robertson Trophy. For that contest John Ross Robertson himself had traveled from Toronto with the Wellingtons to see the playoffs in a place of honor in the upper gallery of the old Victoria Rink, seat of the Cornwall teams until its destruction by fire in 1933.
       For some reason lost in the mists of time, Cornwall seceded from the O.H.A. and joined the old Federal Hockey League

One of Frank Finnigan's heroes C.J. "Cy" Denneny (left) was born in 1891 and played some of his junior hockey with the O'Brien Mine Team in the Cobalt Mining League. He played for five Stanley Cup teams and was coaching the Ottawa Senators in 1932—33 when they folded.

Edouard "Newsy"Lalonde (right), born in Cornwall in 1888, was one of Canada's outstanding lacrosse players of all time. A brilliant scorer, Lalonde was also one of the roughest players of his day in the N.H.L. Feuds between Lalonde and Quebec Bulldogs Big Joe Hall helped fill arenas.




where they played against such teams as Ottawa's Montagnards and the Montreal Wanderers. In succeeding years Cornwall won both the Senior and Junior Citizen Shields in the Ottawa Valley Hockey League. In the St. Lawrence League, Cornwall Canadiens carried off honors again.
      In addition to the Dennenys and the Lalondes, among the Cornwall hockey aces who learned the game at home and then migrated to other towns and cities to make names for themselves in other leagues and higher places were Guy Smith, Donald Smith, George Penny, James Penny, William Penny, Arthur Kinghorn, Bill Cote, Percy MacAteer, George Harrington, George Anderson, Farrand Gillie, Fred Sugden, Mickie DeGray, Ernest Goudie, Leonard Goudie, Albert Lefebvre, Lindsay Langevin, Arthur Daye, Hugh Graveley, Malcolm Upper, Leonard Hurley, Aaron Watson, Jake Stacey, Fred Gillard, Whiteley Eastwood, William Provost, George Fitzgerald, Cyril Dextras, Eddie Aoslet, Ralph Tilton, Clarence Gallinger, Roscoe Lane, Charles Larose, Charles Laroche, Arthur Contant, and Joseph Contant.

      The formation in 1010 of the Creamery Boys or, as they came to be called, the Renfrew Millionaires, probably was the peak event of early hockey in The Valley before the game moved to the big cities and took on its truly professional hockey league face.
       At the turn of the century Ottawa Valley money began to turn its eye to hockey. Whether out of contagious hockey mania, eccentric millionaire's whim, or as a means of making more money, the mining O'Briens and lumbering Barnets of Renfrew began to whisper amongst themselves about forming a challenge team for The Stanley Cup. Kenora (Ontario), New Glasgow (Nova Scotia), Dawson City (Yukon) had all done it. Why not Renfrew?
       Alexander Barnet, scion of the Barnet lumbering dynasty, came out from Ireland about 1840 on a sailing ship and settled at a hamlet back of Renfrew called Ashdad. There he attempted to set up a feudal system as the last Laird Macnab had successfully done down the road at White Lake and Waba. When Barnet's plans with both Irish and Polish immigrants didn't work out, he turned his entrepreneurial talents to timber; at the age of sixteen he took his first raft of squared pine to Quebec City where, with the profits, he bought his mother a Spanish silk shawl but presumably kept enough to plow back into his lumbering enterprise. Barnet worked his timber limits from 1890 until 1916 and became one of the major lumber operators in Canada with cutting rights all through the Ottawa Valley and mills at New Westminster, British Columbia. By the time Big Money in the Ottawa Valley was looking to invest in professional hockey, the third generation of Barnets was living on the amassed fortunes of its lumbering businesses, fortunes uncounted and probably inestimable until 1911 when income tax was ushered in.
       In 1879 Michael James O'Brien, a Maritimer, walked through the bush to Calabogie Lake and there met a man named Jim Barry working in his fields with a team of horses. In the authentic manner of a true Horatio Alger, O'Brien had begun as a water boy for the construction gang working on the "Kick and Push" Railway line from Kingston to Pembroke and was looking at the contract to finish the line to Renfrew. He had walked up the already surveyed right-of-way from Lanark in order to estimate the lie of the land and the problems he would have to cope with laying the rail line. On the Barry farm he met more than he bargained for — his

M.J. O'Brien was born at Lochaber, Nova Scotia in 1851. He moved to Renfrew, began railway construction at an early age and later diversified into mining development in northern Ontario and Quebec, becoming one of the leading Canadian capitalists of his time. He was a backer of the famous Renfrew Millionaires.

In 1909 when the Eastern Canada Association was the only professional hockey league and Renfrew's application for admission was rejected, J. Ambrose O'Brien almost single-handedly organized the rival National Hockey Association and was instrumental in founding the Montreal Canadiens to play in the new league.



future wife, Jennie Barry. They were married in Renfrew at St. Francis Xavier Church, 1883. O'Brien, as a contractor, went on to build parts of the Intercontinental Railway all over Canada, including the North Shore Line of the CPR between Montreal and Ottawa, the K&P Line, and lines in the Maritime provinces. M. J. was away from home most of the time, but built Jennie a substantial house on Barr Street in Renfrew where she wished to stay. The servants were hired and the babies were born. Because Ottawa and Montreal were his business centers, M. J. began to use the Russell Hotel in Ottawa and the Queen's Hotel in Montreal as his homes away from home. His eldest son, Ambrose, was initiated at an early age into the mysteries of the O'Brien involvement in lumbering and construction, and later mining.
       By 1901 O'Brien had begun to look to new challenges in mining. He had been appointed a commissioner of the Temi-skaming and Northern Ontario Railway which then terminated at North Bay but was planned for extension northwards. Presumably this time spent in the north exposed O'Brien to mining talk and miners' meetings in Toronto. At one of these Toronto dinners, M. J. O'Brien met J.R. Booth, one of Canada's most famous financial entrepreneurs and "King of the Timber Barons," with whom O'Brien was later to become part owner of a large nickel property near Sudbury.
      It was on one of these Toronto trips in 1903 where circumstances combined to make M. J. one of Canada's richest men, sometimes earning a million dollars a year. The full story of the O'Brien Mine at Cobalt has never been clarified. But it involved a fire ranger named King who sold O'Brien his Cobalt claims for $4,000 and a blacksmith named Fred Larose who sold his claims to the Timmins Brothers, the McMartin brothers, and David Dunlap jointly. The Big Cobalters, as they came to be called, O' Brien and Timmins fought a political-legal battle for years over the rights to the Cobalt silver mines.
       Nine months after the legal dust had cleared O'Brien proceeded to become one of the richest men in Canada. Indeed, it has been said that if he had never invested anywhere else in the country, the O'Brien mine at Cobalt would have made him a millionaire many times over.
       In the spring of 1907 a year or so after the Cobalt strike, the Toronto Telegram raised the ire of the populace of Renfrew, O'Brien's hometown, with stories on its sports pages.
     "And now Renfrew talks of challenging for The Stanley Cup," the Telegram said, "All because they have won a fence-corner league championship." A further report went on to say, "Renfrew has challenged for The Stanley Cup. Now don't laugh. If you never lived in a country town you don't know how seriously these people take themselves." The fence-corner league referred to was the Upper Ottawa Valley League with teams from Arnprior, Pembroke, and Renfrew, and the small-towners were taking themselves very seriously indeed. Towns much bigger than Renfrew did not have its array of millionaires and near-millionaires as residents.

One of Renfrew's renowned characters, policeman Barney McDermid, accompanied by his faithful dog Spot, leads a parade down Raglan Street. Behind him is a carriage carrrying civic dignitiaries, followed by a military contingent of the First World War.



      On December 18, 1908, a meeting was held in Renfrew and the decision made to form a professional hockey team. A few days later a meeting in Ottawa reorganized the Federal Hockey League with professional teams from Renfrew, Cornwall, Smith Falls, and Ottawa (the Senators.) Thomas Low, a local MP and later a minister in a Mackenzie King cabinet, was Renfrew representative. Jim Barnet was chosen vice-president and Ambrose O'Brien, M.J.'s son, executive member. Bill O'Brien (not related) was chosen as the Renfrew trainer and Bert Lindsay, professional goalkeeper, hired along with Larry Gilmour, Ernie Liffiton, and Bobby Rowe.
       Renfrew won the Federal League that winter but, for some reason or other, didn't challenge for The Stanley Cup. In March, 1909 when that team disbanded, only the four named originals were left to become the core of the new team when Renfrew made its grand entrance into big-time hockey the following season.
       O'Brien tended to be a man of mystery, non-communicative according to his family's memories of him, and never prone to leaving papers, diaries, records of his life, times, and fortunes. Indeed, biographers had to did deep to find out anything at all about his early years in Lochaber, Antigonish County, Nova Scotia. And certainly O'Brien's motives for backing a professional hockey team to bring The Stanley Cup to Renfrew are at the very least obscure. A new way of making money? Not likely for a man making millions out of his mining enterprises. A love of hockey? Perhaps. But Ambrose O'Brien said that his father never saw a hockey game in his life. A form of gambling heretofore not experienced? More likely as people like the Ahearns and Gormans of Ottawa could have told him a few decades later. In any case M.J. O'Brien hurled himself into making a championship team.
       In November, 1909, his son Ambrose was on business in La Tuque, Quebec, when he got a momentous telephone call from the Barnets in Renfrew.
       "There's going to be a big meeting in Montreal to form a new hockey league. Can you get there and see if you can get Renfrew in?" Ambrose was asked.
         And it was true. The Eastern Canada Hockey Association had met in Montreal with five teams represented — the Montreal Shamrocks, Montreal Nationals, Montreal Wanderers, Quebec, and Ottawa Senators, the holders of The Stanley Cup at that time.
        In a swift succession of November meetings in Montreal, Renfrew's application for a new franchise was refused and the Montreal Wanderers were cut out. Ambrose was sitting outside the conference room waiting for news when out of the meeting came Jimmy Gardner of the Montreal Wanderers and, swearing like a maddened hockey player, sat down beside the young O'Brien. The famous Montreal Wanderers had been chopped by the formation of a new hockey league, the Canadian Hockey Association with franchises going to the Ottawa Shamrocks, the Quebec Nationals, and a new club called All-Montreal.
        After Gardner had finished swearing he turned to O'Brien and said, "Say, do you O'Briens have other hockey teams up North? Haileybury, Cobalt? Why don't we form a league? We have the Wanderers. And I think if a team of all Frenchmen was formed in Montreal it would be a real draw. We could give it a real French-Canadien name ..." The two men tossed around the idea and came up with the name Les Canadiens. And so it happened out of anger and rejection that two Irish-Canadians from the little Creamery town in the Ottawa Valley known as Renfrew named and bankrolled the most famous hockey club in French-Canadian sporting history, perhaps even in the history of hockey.
       Events began to tumble over one another. Charlotte Whitton later always insisted that M. J. "Imjay" O'Brien and Alec Barnett, principal backers of the Renfrew team, didn't care about The Stanley Cup as much as they wanted to "rub Ottawa's nose in it for queering Renfrew's application for the Canadian Hockey Association." Whatever the myriad of reasons and motivations, The Ottawa Free Press reported a few days after the momentous Montreal meeting that "the biggest hockey grab in history was attempted earlier this week and so far as can be ascertained is still going on. The Renfrew hockey club is at the present moment after every member of the Ottawa team. Only fine organization and the looking-ahead policy of the Ottawa Club has prevented what might have meant the necessity of buying up an entirely new team to defend The Stanley Cup." George Martel of the Renfrew Club was put in charge of recruiting, and M. J. and Ambrose met personally with Ottawa players to try to lure them to Renfrew.
       On December 2, 1908, at the old St. Lawrence Hall Hotel on St. James Street, Montreal, a meeting was held to name the new league the National Hockey Association and to formalize the existence of the Montreal Canadiens. Present at that landmark meeting were Doran, Strachan, Boon, and Gardner of the ostracized Montreal Wanderers; Ambrose O'Brien, George Martel, Jim Barnet from Renfrew; T.C. Hare from Cobalt; and Noah Timmins from Haileybury — an impressive group, indeed.
       Following this meeting stones of player raids filled the newspapers, rumor having it that Renfrew had offered four Ottawa players — Marty Walsh, Fred Lake, Albert Kerr, and Fred "Cyclone" Taylor — $2,000 dollars each to desert Ottawa. "Stage money," cried out the Toronto Globe, seemingly unaware of the O'Brien resources or their propensity to follow through once they began something.
        The Ottawa Senators retaliated by sending envoys around the country urging their players to stay with the team and offering good "under-the-table" Civil Service jobs in the off-season. The Ottawa Citizen reported then that Renfrew had raised its offers to $2,500 per man, with two-year contracts, off-ice jobs for any player who wanted them, all the money to be deposited immediately in a bank of the player's choice.
         Throughout all the furor and controversies, true to the character of the O'Briens, Renfrew played it above board and honestly, and won the admiration of all involved, the press included. The Ottawa Free Press said that Renfrew's business-like manner had won the respect of everyone, and quoted George Martel, recruitment manager as saying: "We are not stealing the Ottawa players. All our dickering has been done openly and above board. Before we talked business with any of them we first asked each player to go to the Ottawa Club and tell the officers that they had been approached by us and not until the Ottawa Club had made their terms to any player did we make our offer. We want the very best team that money can buy, the best team in the world, in fact, and we don't care where they come from. We are after the Ottawa men because we think they are the best in the country."
       Despite all Renfrew's efforts and exemplary behavior, all the Ottawa stars, except for Cyclone Taylor, decided to stay with Ottawa. Lester and Frank Patrick were then lured from the West for $3,000 and $2,000. Rumors set Cyclone Taylor's bait at $5,000 per year, but Ambrose maintained the correct figure was $2,000. George Martel went to New Brunswick to recruit George Gregory; M.J. himself traveled to Quebec City to sign on Herb Jordan, who insisted that he wanted more than a hockey contract to give up his amateur standing — he became M. J.'s own private secretary off-seasons.
        The first practice line-up in 1909 for the Renfrew Creamery Kings, or as they became known in hockey history, the Renfrew Millionaires, included Bert Lindsay, goal; Lester Patrick and Cyclone Taylor, point and cover point (defence); Bobby Rowe, center; J. Fraser (from Arnprior), right wing; Herb Jordan, rover; George Gregory, spare. Frank Patrick was still making his way east.
       In 1909 M. J. O'Brien and his son Ambrose found themselves in an unique position in Canadian hockey history; they had four teams to be organized, manned, managed, coached, and financed, a feat never to be repeated in the annals of hockey. O'Brien appointed Mike Kennedy, captain of the Cobalt team, as its manager, and Tommy Hare as manager of the Haileybury team, which had engaged the legendary Art Ross at a salary of $2,700. Jack Laviolette and Joe Cattarinich, former players, were named to run the Canadiens in Montreal. M. J. himself managed The Millionaires with Ambrose the chief dealer and Al Smith, a former Ottawa Senator as coach. As part of an understanding that the Canadiens would get first call on players of French-Canadien extraction, Didier Pitre went immediately to Les Habs.
       The 1910-11 season was a mightily exciting year for Renfrew hockey fans, all 4,000 of them jammed into the Renfrew Arena for each game in a season where the team lost to Cobalt, beat the Canadiens 9-4, tied the Shamrocks, lost to Montreal and the Ottawa Senators, and then shellacked Ottawa 17-2 in a game which cost M. J. O'Brien $2,250 in player bonuses.
      So important did The Ottawa Citizen consider the Renfrew Millionaires games that they sent sportswriter Tommy Gorman, later to become a famous hockey manager and promoter with Ottawa, Montreal, New York, and Chicago, to cover the games.


The Renfrew Millionaires of 1909-10 challenged the Montreal Wanderers for The Stanley Cup.




The roads up The Valley were closed off with snow in those days, as Gorman reminisced later in the Weekend Magazine in 1957: "One of my assignments while covering sports for The Citizen was to catch 'The Timberwolf Special' to Renfrew to cover the hockey games there and then catch the return train to Ottawa with my story at 5 a.m."
      Other fans traveled from near and far by horse and cutter or team and sleigh, and the journey was often perilous. The Shaw-ville Equity reported local citizens going to a Renfrew hockey game and being caught on the way home in a blinding blizzard which drove them into a stable for the night. The next morning the farmer found them there and took them to his house for a warming up by his kitchen stove. Another crowd, not designated, got so mixed up going home after a game that, after traveling for two hours, they struck Renfrew again and had to over-night in a local hotel.
     The high point of hockey playing history in Renfrew was the 1910 Stanley Cup championship game between Renfew Millionaires and the Montreal Wanderers. Hockey mania possessed much of he Ottawa Valley. Every train to Renfrew brought in its fans from Pembroke, Arnprior, Ottawa, Montreal, Brockville, Eganville. When the special from Pembroke and the regular from Ottawa both arrived at the Renfrew Station at the same time, the streets were filled with people from the station to the rink.
      Friday afternoon, the day of the match, the 1:40 train from Montreal arrived at the Renfrew Station with a special car for the Montreal Wanderers attached to the long line of regular passenger cars. Half the town of Renfrew was there to look over the team which had already won so many championships. " Never before has there been such excitement in Renfrew as there is today," reported The Renfrew Journal.
     All afternoon hockey fans streamed in from the countryside, some walking, some by horse and sleigh or cutter, from Burns-town, Springtown, Spruce Hedge, Black Donald, Goshan, Ashdad, Haley Station, Adamston, Cobden, Mount St. Patrick, Dacre, and all the farming communities in between. "The country people," The Journal reported, "were coming in loads from two to fifty!"
       An hour after the arena ticket office had been opened all reserved sets were sold. Even with the rink expansion O'Brien had engineered and paid for, the new balconies almost doubling capacity, it began to be apparent early in the afternoon that not everybody who wanted to see the game could be accommodated. All seats were sold by 6:00 and it was Standing Room Only after that.
     Three to two betting after, the Renfrew Millionaires lost to the experienced Montreal Wanderers 5-0. Montreal was presented The Stanley Cup and The O'Brien Cup, a massive trophy made from Cobalt silver, valued in that day at $6,000, but far too heavy to lift in triumph overhead. It now reposes in The Hockey Hall of Fame.
       The O'Briens had lost $11,000 on the first season and were committed for $6,000 more in contracts for 1911-12. Only five out of the thirty hard-won, hard-bought original players returned for the second season, although Ambrose did help sign on Odie and Sprague Cleghorn for the 1911 Millionaires team. Cobalt and Haileybury dropped out of the league, the Big Time being too rich for their blood and/or pocket books.
        Renfrew never did win The Stanley Cup. Ambrose was finding less and less time for hockey as contracting work on M. J.'s railway projects increased. Renfrew finished third in 1911 and then dropped its professional hockey league franchise. However, before they disbanded, the Renfrew Millionaires were invited to New York City's St. Nicholas arena to play-off with the Montreal Wanderers, Stanley Cup winners. On artificial ice, Renfrew won the game 9-4, and the New York press hailed the Renfrew Millionaires as "Champions of the World."
      No small town in the whole Ottawa Valley ever attempted again to support and back, morally and financially, a pro team.

When I was first starting to do oral history in The Valley, my father told me that Cyclone Taylor of the Renfrew Millionaires was leaving his home in Vancouver to visit Montreal and would be staying at the Old Windsor Hotel there. Following a strong intuition, I phoned the hotel, spoke with the legendary Taylor, and made an appointment to go down the following day to interview him. In a three-to-four hour conversation, he graciously gave me the gift of his life story, which in its own way is a story of hockey in the Ottawa Valley:

       So we played the Palmerston boys and, lo and behold, we beat them! I was in the front row all the way along and that cinched me with the Mintos, and I was there until i got to be Junior age, around sixteen, and then I joined the Listowel Junior team. And by the way, in 1904 Listowel won the Western League. We won the Northern League too. Played Barrie and we were even bumped up against the Kingston Frontenacs. And in all of

A Cyclone Taylor bubble gum card, today worth much more than its original one cent selling price.

Hockey great Cyclone Taylor played on two Stanley Cup teams — the Ottawa Senators in 1908-09 and the Vancouver Millionaires 1914-15. He starred, briefly, for the Renfrew Millionaires.




these championship games we played at home in Listowel. But the O.H.A., for some reason or other, decided we should play a "sudden death" game in Toronto at the old Mutual Rink, and the Listowel people were up in arms because they wanted to see this game. After all, they'd paid good money and supported us all winter. But the O.H.A. insisted on us playing the Beechgroves in Toronto and they beat us 8-6 for the Ontario Junior Championship. I think the trophy at that time was called the John Ross Robinson Trophy, and we missed it. Anyway, that game playing the Kingston Beechgroves in Toronto, the arena was filled with people and again I just happened to be — well, you have to be good some nights and not so good other nights — I scored nearly half of those goals. And that game in Toronto set me up. The teams then started to look to Listowel for a player.

      I started out as a defenceman and became a forward. Yes, it is true that I wore a toque to cover my bald spot. I lost my hair on the back when I was young and I was sensitive about it. But lots of fellows wore toques in Eastern Canada because of the cold weather, and that would make a good enough excuse any time.

      When I belonged to the Renfrew Millionaires, M. J. O'Brien spared no expense for us. They paid us good salaries and when we traveled he gave us the best, and the town of Renfrew entertained us. We were little gods, but the boys behaved themselves and we went into the finest homes in Renfrew and were welcomed. O'Brien spared no expense. Everything was lavish — Winnipeg goldeye — until the New York people bought them all, lock, stock, and barrel.

       Yes, I was a "sixty-minute man." We all were in those days. I wouldn't want to make any comparisons with the players today. I can only say I wouldn't want to play in this game today. For one thing, you're only getting out there for two or three minutes. It suits them. They were brought up to it, and they don't know any better. But we were on for sixty minutes and we paced ourselves for that sixty minutes. And we could go! I've always said that any player between the ages of sixteen and thirty who can't play sixty minutes "bang" of hockey, there's something the matter with him. I know that if he's physically fit, it would be a joy. I know in my case it was a joy.

       You paced yourself, just naturally, just the same as a man running five miles or twenty miles. He goes so far so fast and then so far at a different pace. You prepared yourself for that sixty minutes on the ice.

      I don't think there was the violence in my day, but mind you, I remember in my day there were two players killed. I wouldn't want to give you the names because the fellow that killed one of them is still living in Ottawa today — that would be away back in 1904 or '05. Just a hit over the head; it was a lad from Cornwall. But we only had one referee in those days and he couldn't see everything. This hockey that's being played today, I don't know where it ever developed. Even little boys — I'm honorary president of the British Columbia Hockey Association, have been for some years — even those little boys are steeped with the idea of playing rough. They think it's alright. In some cases I think the parents and their coaches are as much to blame as anybody else. I've sat at little games there in Vancouver where you'll hear a mother scream, "Hit him, Billy! Kill him! Kill him!" Now, if a mother is talking like that to her children, well, it's got to stop.

       We in Canada killed lacrosse by rough play — that's field lacrosse — and just the same they'll have to change their mode of playing in hockey. Hockey is such a splendid game: the skating and the skill and the speed. Anybody can play rough, they don't need to hit one another.

       I played a lot of lacrosse, too, and I remember a game one Saturday afternoon in Vancouver. In those days there were no cars and very few people, except the rich, went to summer cottages, and the Saturday afternoon lacrosse games — especially the 24th of May holiday one — would draw enormous crowds. Well, this Saturday afternoon Westminster had come over to play us, the Vancouver team, and the game was just getting nicely under way with the place packed with yelling people, and some violence occurred — I can't remember what, though — our manager and owner, Mr. Con Jones, just pulled his team right off the playing field. Scores of people said they'd never go to see another lacrosse game. But when Westminster and Vancouver lacrosse teams played one another, it was nothing but a donny-brook, always a donnybrook!

      And I feel hockey is in danger of doing the same thing. They could easily do it. There's people across Canada — and I venture to say the ladies don't want that kind of thing — oh no, it has to be stopped. They'll penalize those players until...

      Of course, the salaries are a hundred times what we made. Conditions were different in my day when you could buy a pound of butter for seven or eight cents and eggs for three cents a dozen. But the salaries are still too high by comparison and it's going to end. It's ending already. The W.H.A. was responsible for that.. .

        Newsy Lalonde, Lester and Frank Patrick, Joe Hall — they were the greats of my day and they compare very favorably with the greats of today.

I don't think the training has improved that much at all. And as for the equipment, we were just as well protected. Some of the teams now, sure they have half their team off half the time with hurt knees or smashed ankles. I never had an injury in all my years of professional hockey. I never had a wound worth putting me out of business even for a game . . .

      I suppose at this age I could put down my philosophy of life. People speak of "self-made" men. Well, let's take my career, just the hockey. First, Toronto wanted me to go with the Marlboroughs. I don't know what made me go up to Thessalon; then, when I came back, the Wanderers wanted me to go to Montreal. But I often think if I had gone with the Wanderers, I would never have met Mrs. Taylor, and that was one of the greatest things of my life. I wouldn't have had these wonderful children that I have today.

       What is that saying? "Man is destiny?" I don't think you are in charge of your won destiny. I think you're guided by your family or from Up Above. No, the saying is "Man is master of his own destiny." Well, I wonder what prompted me to make that decision about hockey? There was this inner voice that none of us can explain. But every move that I've made seems to have been to my advantage and to my pleasure, and I'd say to my success too . . .

       I have fourteen grandchildren, and one grandson, he played this winter, and he's junior A. The team he played with was Langley, which is about thirty miles from Vancouver. He went to school in Langley for the last two years. He was picked as the best all-round player in the league and there were five colleges in the States writing to him to go to them — and one of them was Michigan, where I played. They were very anxious to get Mark to go there, just out of, well, 1 guess out of the connection. But he's decided to go to Grand Forks, North Dakota; they're giving him a four-year scholarship. Some of them wanted him to play in the National Hockey League here, but he took our advice. He can have that four-year scholarship; he's only seventeen, and when he's finished he'll be twenty-one and he can still go and play in the N.H.L. That four-year scholarship is worth sixteen to eighteen thousand dollars, so that's one boy we've steered in the right way, and not by force — just by example, I suppose. With my grandchildren I'm very careful to make it advice, not instruction.

      I'll tell you one of the nicest things that's happened to me lately. One of the television stations out of New York, they wanted to get somebody, an older person, the oldest person they could find — the oldest hockey player they could find — and when they phoned me and I said I was ninety-one years of age and that I had played hockey up until 1911, they said, "My God! You're the fellow we're looking for!" Now all I did, and it was one of the nicest things I ever did, I went out with Brian McFarlane — you know him? — and we skated around the ice, arm in arm, talking as we're talking now about hockey and things in general. People that saw it thought it was one of the nicest — well, I enjoyed it more than anything I ever did on television. And it was surprising the number of people that saw it and communicated with me and said, "Mr. Taylor, that was a lovely, quiet, homey little program." And it didn't last very long: seven minutes.

      When I quit hockey, sure, I missed it, but at that time we had three little children and I was all tied up with family life. I missed it, sure, but you have to acquaint yourself with the changing conditions of your life. What have I got to look forward to? Me. At my age! Heaven, I guess!

      Yes, I know they say I am the only man who ever scored a goal skating backwards. Well, let them say it, let them say it.


Miss Lillian Handford of Renfrew remembers The Millionaires and Cyclone Taylor in this light:


       I almost got to see the game that Cyclone Fred Taylor was -supposed to have skated backwards and scored the goal. Cyclone Taylor. Well, you see, my father sold pianos where Dr. Ed Handford's office is now — the Robertson Company from Ottawa sold pianos in there years ago. Well, Dad sold records as well in there, and the Renfrew Millionaires used to come in there in the afternoons when the Renfrew kids would be using the hockey rink and they'd listen to the records. Yes, the Patricks and the Fitzpatricks and Cyclone and all these men. 1 was always coming in from school and I always went through the store to see what I could see there. But, anyway, Dad had tickets for all the hockey matches, including the Renfrew Millionaires, and he and Mother used to go, and they used to put bricks in the oven to heat them and then take them to the rink to keep their feet warm. This night Mother was sick, and I begged so hard to be allowed to see them play and they wouldn't let me go, but that was the night I can remember my dad coming home and telling my mother that Cyclone skated backwards and scored a goal!

        Charlotte Whitton always said that it was absolutely true and she could have remembered it, even been at the game, because she was a little older than I was and, besides, some of the Renfrew Millionaires boarded at the Whittons — her mother kept a boardinghouse. But you see, the Renfrew Millionaires were only a year or two there in Renfrew and they wouldn't really remember the people. They might have remembered my father, though, because he was always very nice to them and let them play the records. And they were all Red Seal records and Caruso and all high-class music, and they all just loved that music. They'd stay by the hour and play them.


Hero worship of "Cyclone" Taylor is clear in the name of this Renfrew Women's Hockey Team.




      I remember my parents arguing about a proposed Renfrew Millionaires game in Cobalt. I know there was a great discussion as to whether my father could afford to go, take the trip. And, of course, hockey players were in and out of the shop so often, and he'd taken pictures of them all. I must say that the players were always very nice with you when you came in. Of course, I used to come into the store any time I could, but I got shooed through and up the stairs. They were good-looking young men. Anyway, he really wanted to go and see this game, and my mother persuaded him to go ahead. They won, of course, and he came back, thrilled to death. He'd got on the train to come home, the train was empty, and he was one of the first ones in, and on the side of his seat he found two twenty-dollar bills. He came home and presented my mother with them. She said, "Where did you get those? Were you betting on those games?" He said," I didn't have to."

      There were reserved seats in the Renfrew arena. They put them in when the Millionaires came. Before that, I think, it was just benches really, and everybody grabbed a seat where they could. But I must tell you a story that is sort of related to all this hockey. After the Second World War, my Uncle Alex was a great one for telling stories. He had two sons and a daughter, and the older son, Ken, was stationed in Ottawa for a little while and he wrote and asked me if he could come up to Renfrew and see me. Ken had never stayed in Renfrew and would like to come and


Lillian Handford's father made considerable income in portraiture, but photograph postcards were also a big part of his livelihood. Mr. Handford designed this Easter card using the Renfrew Millionaires as a big selling point. The card is addressed to Master Silas Reed, Eating P.O., London, Out., and says: "This is our good team of hockey players, the bunch who played in New York last Saturday night and won — score 9-4. Edward."




spend a weekend. My mother was dead by this time and Dad and Herb, my brother Doc Handford, and I were here. And there was a Pembroke-Renfrew hockey game being played. First of all, we couldn't get parked on Argyle Street at all, so we had to park a long distance from the rink and walk to it, all the way along I was saying "Goodnight" to people I knew and they were saying, "Good evening, Miss Handford," and then at the rink there were all sorts of friends and acquaintances talking to me, kidding me. So, we got into the rink. I had the tickets, so I was meeting them all, ushers and everybody. And when we finally got sitting down, cousin Ken said to me — he'd lived in Toronto all his life — he said, "Lil, do you know everybody in Renfrew?" And I said, "Well, not quite, Ken. Why?" He said, "Do you know you spoke to every single person you met all the way here?" And I said, "Well, I teach school here and they have all gone to school." That was the first thing that hit him. Well, then the game started! He said that he always thought his father had been making up stories about the Pembroke and Renfrew hockey matches. But you know, there wasn't one thing was left out in that game he saw that night.

       We had a man in town called Bob Scott and he, at the rink-side, all night long, would yell out, "Get him! Get him! Get him!" You know, keep it up all the time the other team would have the puck. And we were sitting not too far from the penalty box, and hanging over the penalty box was a drunk with all the vocabulary and all the verbal abuse, and what those players sitting in that penalty box had to take was unbelievable!

       And then this big Pembroke player fell on the ice and hit the back of his head so hard that it bled, and when they were taking him of the ice he left behind this trail of blood all across the ice, and it froze there, and when Ken came home with me he said, "I wouldn't have believed what I saw tonight. My father told us these stories about them being laid out and carried off the ice."

      But everything happened at that game that night — you would have thought it had been staged for him. The crowd was wild. There was a good gang down from Pembroke. There were a couple of fights in the crowd. To the day he died, Ken never came to visit that he didn't say, "I'll never forget that hockey match you took me to in Renfrew!"


/ interviewed Tommy Barnett in 1980 at his home in Renfrew, Ontario, shortly before he died. He was one of the last surviving members of the Harriett lumbering dynasty, a family which had had great influence in The Valley not only through its lumber operations but also as great breeders of fine horses and barkers of hockey development and expansion:


      We also had the Renfrew Millionaires, the great hockey team of 1910-11. Actually, the two chief financial backers of The Millionaires were my grandfather Barnett, who never went to a game in his life, and Senator M.J. O'Brien. And then there were the others who put up money as well. So much has been written but never any credit given to the other people who put in money. The books for the team were always kept in my grandfather's office; Mr. Hardy Cox was the treasurer and he was my grandfather's head bookkeeper. My uncle George Barnett, he was the president of the team, and Ambrose O'Brien was vice-president. And my uncle Jim Barnett, he was one of the chief backers of the team as well. And they all thought nothing of betting two, three, four, five thousand on a game in those days. Oh, I recall the late Dr. Bill Box of Renfrew saying that when he was going to school he was quite a good hockey player on the Renfrew collegiate team and he would be invited to go along to the games. My grandfather, father, and uncles would maybe take three or four young Renfrew fellows with them to a game in Cobalt — my uncles were interested in mining up there, as well as lumbering — and Bill Box told me about my uncle Ben winning five thousand dollars in one of the games up there. Well, five thousand dollars in those days was like fifty thousand dollars today . . .


One of the young men. who followed the careers of those Ottawa Valley hockey heroes was Frank Finnigan, himself soon to became another hockey legend from The Valley:


I knew by the time I was nine that I was going to be a professional hockey player. Of course, we didn't have any radio or television then, but I used to save my money and buy every newspaper from Ottawa that I could get hold of. I wasn't very good at school, but I could certainly read the sports pages of The Ottawa Journal and The Ottawa Citizen at a very early age! The train used to come into Shawville at six every evening, and as soon as I would hear that whistle blow I would head down to Joe Turner's confectionary or Doc Clock's drugstore and get my papers. So would a lot of other people.

      I read about Cyclone Taylor of the Renfrew Millionaires. They say he was the only man who ever really scored a goal skating backward. Joe Malone of the Quebec City Bulldogs scored forty-four goals in twenty-two games. I can remember I was impressed by that. There were all my Ottawa heroes: Eddie Gerard, Jack Darragh, Percy Lesueur, George Vezina, Gordie Roberts, Harvey Pulford, the Smith Brothers (Alf and Tommy), George "Buck" Boucher, Hod Stewart. And the others: Cy Denneny of Cornwall, Didre Petrie of Montreal, Frank Nighbor of Pembroke, Larry Gilmour of Renfrew, Scotty Davidson of Kingston, Art Ross of Queen's University.

     Eventually I played with some of my heroes like Frank Nighbor, Sprague and Odie Cleghorn, Punch Broadbent. And in time I got to know some of the greatest people ever associated with the early game — Frank Ahearn, Frank Selke, Dick Irvin.


The Shawville rink, one of the first in Western Quebec and scene of many of Frank Finnigan's

first hockey victories. It

fell down in 1972.




 When I was young growing up in Shawville the whole world was a rink. A hockey rink, not a skating rink. When I first started to play hockey, I played on the ponds and on the crust. We'd have a big rain and it would freeze and make the crust — just the same as ice. Yes, it would be just the same as ice; it would carry a team of hockey players or a team of horses. And then we had the ponds and the creeks. When we got a bit bigger we had the small lakes, which we kept shoveled of in the winter. Then every second house in Shawville would have a little rink in their back yard. It wouldn't be too big but you could still play on it. The John Cowans on Back Street at the old Shawville Equity — they published that paper for a hundred years — had a great big summer kitchen and sometimes we would flood that and use it. It was the first covered rink! And then you'd have the streets to skate on when you'd have a rain and it would freeze. You played shinny on the streets in the winter and road hockey on the streets when the ice and snow was gone.

       Well, then in 1913-14, Shawville got its covered rink — one of the first if not the first in the Upper Ottawa Valley. W.A. Hodgins, general merchant; Duncan Campbell, gentleman; Chris Caldwell, hotel-keeper — they put up the money for the materials for the rink, but everyone in town gave their labor free. There was Standing Room Only for three to four hundred people. We even had night games. The first lighting arrangement was oil-burning lamps strung above the ice surface on wires. The lamps would smoke up, go out, and often be shot out by the players — sometimes on purpose to keep the other team from seeing too well when they were winning, sometimes just plain accidentally by a high shot. The Shawville rink fell down one day in the 1970s.

       Now, covered rinks have some advantages, but not many. You have to wait for rink time these days, so you don't get nearly as much hockey as we did in my learning days. We just moved from one kind of rink to another — perpetual motion. If one pond wasn't good enough, we moved to a creek and so on. I played hooky from school all the time to play hockey and I wouldn't recommend that! I think everybody should get an education. I had a tough time.

      We didn't have any fancy skates and equipment. I bought my first single-blade pair from Cedric Shaw for five dollars when I was thirteen years old; they were secondhand. Before that I played on double-enders. We were always collecting from the Shawville merchants for money for team sweaters. We had to supply your own hockey sticks. That was hard for me. The good ones, made of natural wood with clear shellac, were fifty cents each. The cheap ones were painted red to cover up the knots. We used frozen horse balls for a puck when we couldn't afford a rubber one. Most of the time.

      By the time I was thirteen I was playing in the Pontiac League for Shawville against Campbell's Bay and Quyon. In those early days league size was limited by the number of miles a horse could travel per hour. We used to drive by sleigh to the games in Campbell's Bay and Quyon, three or four hours each way. We'd be in a lather of sweat after playing a full game and then out into the freezing night and the cold, cold sleigh. If we were playing Campbell's Bay — and had collected from the merchants of Shawville — we could catch the Push, Pull, and Jerk, get there in time for a game, and stay overnight at Smith's Hotel. That was the Big Time.

    While I was in the Pontiac League we began looking for more competition, and we used to bring up teams from Ottawa for exhibition games, teams that were playing in the Ottawa City Senior League. Big excitement in town for twenty-five cents a ticket! There were four to six players on those early Ottawa teams who could have turned pro, if there had been enough teams to turn pro with. But there were only four teams in the N.H.L. at that time: Montreal Canadiens, Toronto St. Pats, Hamilton Tigers, and Ottawa Senators. Then the league expanded, the New York Americans took over the Hamilton franchise, and Boston Bruins came in.

  Although he could have become a professional hockey player, J. Cooper Smeaton, M. M. (left) of Carleton Place chose his career as referee for more than twenty-five years in the N.H.A. and the N.H.L. Until his retirement in 1937 he was N.H.L referee-in-chief. He was elected to Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961.

Born in Mattawa in 1891, M.J. Mike Rodden (right) made an impact on the sporting world as player, coach, sportswriter, and referee in football, lacrosse, and hockey. In 1944 Rodden became sports editor of the Kingston Whig-Standard and until his death worked tirelessly for the establishment of Kingston's Hockey Hall of Fame.




We were always looking for a hockey game, anywhere, any time, anyhow, in those younger days. We liked to go out to the smaller towns like Portage-du-Fort, Bryson, or Elmside and have an exhibition game. Of course we needed a livery team to get there sometimes — four dollars. So we'd go to W.A. Hodgins and he'd put down for so much. And we'd go to John Shaw — he was a storekeeper in town — and then we'd go to Chris Caldwell — he had the hotel — and he'd put down for so much — and finally get enough to pay for the livery team and we'd be off.

      Well, one of the referees who refereed in our league, Bill Smith of Ottawa, saw that I had possibilities. Word got around to Dr. Eddie O'Leary of Ottawa University, and he asked me to go down to Ottawa and play for Ottawa U. in the Senior City League against Montagnards, Ottawa, Munitions, and Victoria. You think that kind of thing only goes on today? Well, I played two seasons for Ottawa University, 1920-21 and 1922-23, at fifty dollars a game! Yes, the Coulsons —J.P. and his sons, Harry and D'Arcy, who owned the old Alexander Hotel and who backed the Ottawa U. team — they paid me fifty dollars a game. I was enrolled in the university as a "commercial student." But I never went to a class. That's true. You can see a picture of me yet in the hall of the old Arts Building at Ottawa.

     I had some other interesting offers, too. When 1 was young and still playing amateur I had an offer to go to Pittsburgh and play on a kind of "scholarship" — they would put me through for a doctor or a dentist. It was a semi-pro league there, it wasn't a minor league, but I can't remember what the university was. They offered me pretty good money. I had the same kind of offer from Queen's University at Kingston — they would have paid me to play hockey there and put me through whatever degree I wanted. But I didn't have the education, you know, at all. Remember I quit school at Grade Nine.

      Towards spring a team came up from Ottawa, the Royal Canadians, from Ottawa's Senior City League. Shawville played an exhibition game with them that night. When I went up to Gibson's Restaurant for coffee and sandwiches after the game, there was a telegram there for me from Frank Ahearn, owner and president of the Ottawa Senators. He wanted me to go to Ottawa the next day and talk contract. This was five games before the playoffs, mind you.

       I went down to Ottawa the next day by train and met Mr. Ahearn and we talked contract. I signed the contract only an hour before I got into my new Ottawa Senator sweater, Number 8. It was a three-year contract for eighteen hundred dollars a year. I was a green kid from the country and he never held me to it, gentleman that he always was. The next year he upped it to thirty-five hundred dollars, then forty-five hundred, then fifty-five hundred, with bonus all the time. But he could have held me to it if he had wanted to.

       It was a big jump from Shawville to the red, white, and black of the Ottawa Senators. I was nervous and didn't get my bearings at first. It was the playoffs, too, against the Canadiens. I suddenly found myself up against players who were as good or better than I was. No weaknesses in those lads — Frank Nighbor, Buck Boucher, Clint Benedict, King Clancy.

        In those days The Ottawa Valley was the cradle of hockey. I think at that time the valley developed at least fifty percent of the hockey players in Canada. Even in the Western league there would be a majority of players from the East on the Edmonton, Regina, Calgary, Saskatoon, Victoria teams.


The roll call of legendary hockey players raised on the rinks of the Ottawa Valley goes on and on ... Bill Cowley of Bristol, Ken  "Cagie" Doraty of Stittsville, Bob Gracie of North Bay, Dave Trottier of Pembroke, Johnny Sorrell of Chesterville. Many of these players would travel up or down The Valley to join the professional ranks of the Ottawa Senators, merging their rugged Valley character with the finesse of native Ottawa players like Hall of Fame legends Frank McGee, Harvey Pulford, Frank "King" Clancy, Harry "Punch" Broadbent, Jack Darragh, Billy Gilmour, Harry "Rat" Westwick, Clint Benedict, Syd Howe, Tommy and Alf Smith, Gordon Roberts, Eddie Gerard, William H. "Hod" Stewart, Alex Connell, Frank and George "Buck" Boucher, Bruce Stuart, E.B. "Ebbie" Goodfellow, and Hector "Hec" Kilrea, to create some of the greatest teams in the history of hockey. Ottawa Valley boys would also stock the teams that challenged The Senators for supremacy . . .


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