The Puck Played Hockey
No matter where hockey was first played, the men and women of Wolfville were playing hockey by the late 1800s. Dependent on cold weather, hockey was a winter sport enjoyed by men and women in the town, the schools and the university. The earliest venues were frozen ponds, but by 1881 rinks with natural ice were available for general skating as well as hockey. Wolfville’s first rink with artificial ice was not opened until 1947, and there are frequent complaints until then about teams playing on slush rather than ice. Halifax’s Acadian Recorder commented on 21 Jan 1927: “The continued mild weather is causing a postponement of hockey games, or those taking place are on little ice covered with water.”
Over time there have been changes in the team make-up and in the rules that govern the game. At first, position names were copied from lacrosse. In 1886 teams had seven players and the positions were: goal keeper, point, centre point, puck, centre, left wing and right wing. By 1910, the puck was renamed “rover”, and the centre point was renamed “cover point.” In 1912 the rover position was eliminated. By the 1920s, point and cover point were the defence. Today’s players and spectators would find it strange that line changes did not exist in the early days– rules did not allow it. Before 1907, substitutes were allowed only if a starting player was injured. By 1912, a team could have 9 eligible players at a game, but if someone came out, they were not allowed back in. While goalies were allowed to have leg protection, they were only allowed light padding that followed the shape of the leg, and they were not allowed to sprawl or even kneel on the ice to defend their goal.
There were town hockey leagues in Nova Scotia by the early 1900s; reports from those years mention teams in Wolfville and surrounding towns such as Canning, Port Williams and Windsor. Later, there was a league for area towns. Women were included in informal hockey leagues. Acadia women students seldom played intercollegiate hockey; however, they frequently played teams from Port Williams, Canning and other nearby towns. Women students also enjoyed intramural hockey; games between resident and non-resident students or Tully [Whitman Hall] versus town were regular events for the first 20 years of the twentieth century. Men’s teams such as the Shamrocks played for Wolfville in the 1905-10 period while the Cohorts and the Sunocos were Wolfville teams in the 1930s.
Horton Collegiate and Wolfville school played hockey against each other and other schools in the area. At various times Wolfville school won their league championship; some team members played hockey for Acadia and a few played for town teams after university. Acadia first joined an intercollegiate league in 1905, only to see it abolished by the faculty in 1912; the league was re-formed in 1913. Between 1913 and 1950 Acadia had mixed success, but did win several intercollegiate and Nova Scotia titles during that period and entertained the town with some exciting hockey. During the 1930s Acadia and Wolfville played an annual two-game total point series. The winner was awarded the Callander Cup, donated by local businessman R. G. Callander.
The Interclass Shield was awarded by the AAAA to the team that finished first in Acadia’s interclass hockey competition. As reported in the Athenaeum, “The thanks of the Athletic Association are due to Mr. Walter Mitchell, the local agent of the Automobile Skate and Cycle Co., for the presentation of a very handsome shield to the Association for competition in Inter-class Hockey. The donating of this fine trophy by this enterprising company should greatly increase the interest in the Inter-class Hockey League this winter.”
(Acadia Athenaeum, December 1914, 99)
ECW APC 1889.
For more information visit http://library.acadiau.ca/archives/sporthistory/sports/hockey/male/