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Chronicles of Pincher Creek’s 1909 hockey season

Chronicles of Pincher Creek’s 1909 hockey season
By Farley Wuth, Curator, Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village
By Farley Wuth, Curator, Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village
November 23, 2023
November 23, 2023
Pioneer times in the Pincher Creek area were blessed with strong sports traditions that were both competitive and recreational.
Pioneer times in the Pincher Creek area were blessed with strong sports traditions that were both competitive and recreational.
IMAGE: Pincher Creek and District Historical Society Archives
IMAGE: Pincher Creek and District Historical Society Archives

Pioneer times in the Pincher Creek area were blessed with strong sports traditions that were both competitive and recreational. As we head into our annual winter season, it encourages us to reflect back to traditional fun times.

Hockey played on outdoor rinks was a mainstay of those traditions. Informal matches usually involved local players and games, while district and regional leagues witnessed a more competitive spirit accompanied by some travel.

Travel beyond the local area after 1897-98 patronized the Crowsnest branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Such was the case with the 1909 hockey season, which saw league teams from Pincher Creek, Macleod and Lethbridge battle it out on the ice.

 

Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

Competitive matches hampered by the cold

The first game of the season, played the evening of New Year’s Day, was hosted by Macleod but won by Pincher Creek with a score 7-5. Lethbridge referee R.D. Robson ensured that a fair game was played. Press reports indicate that the ice was soft, possibly due to the warm weather, but a fast hockey game was pursued.

Initially the Macleod team had the upper hand, but Pincher Creek outskated its opponent in the second half. Only one Pincher Creek player was issued a penalty, while four players from the NWMP settlement to the east “decorated the fence.” Folklore indicates that players and spectators alike were happy with the community recreation.

A second match, this time against Lethbridge on Pincher Creek’s home ice, was hampered by immensely cold conditions. The temperature literally froze at -32 F, with both teams suffering as a result of the cold. At least a pair of hockey enthusiasts from both teams had their feet and fingers touched with intense frostbite.

 

We got your bumps and bruises covered advertisement for Osa Remedy'sRx in Pincher Creek

 

So miserable were the conditions that the Lethbridge team was unable to practise on the rink before the game and therefore could not attest to the particularities of the ice. The city press indicated that this put their team to a disadvantage.

Reporters noted that the latter part of the game was “fast and furious.” Pincher Creek established a strong lead early in the match with the scoring of two goals, but quickly Lethbridge held back its ranchland competitor.

Although the puck-handling and passing work by our team was fast paced, it was not always strong enough to break through the city’s defences. However, only once did the Lethbridge offence succeed in overtaking their opponents, resulting in their single goal.

 

White car surrounded by auto parts on Pincher Creek Bumper to Bumper ad

 

Players from both teams appreciated the chance to pursue their favourite winter sport.

The accompanying photograph from the Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village archives depicts a 1909 hockey game on an outdoor rink on Pincher Creek’s frontier Main Street. This well-patronized ice rink was located on the street’s south side, with the old-time Alberta Hotel and its livery stable situated next to the rink.

Across the street can be seen the Arlington Hotel, which was in business for close to six decades following its construction, circa 1890. Snowdrifts along the creek valley and the Porcupine Hills are visible in the background.

Regional newspaper clippings were used as the research sources for this history article.

 

Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

 

Pioneer times in the Pincher Creek area were blessed with strong sports traditions that were both competitive and recreational. As we head into our annual winter season, it encourages us to reflect back to traditional fun times.

Hockey played on outdoor rinks was a mainstay of those traditions. Informal matches usually involved local players and games, while district and regional leagues witnessed a more competitive spirit accompanied by some travel.

Travel beyond the local area after 1897-98 patronized the Crowsnest branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Such was the case with the 1909 hockey season, which saw league teams from Pincher Creek, Macleod and Lethbridge battle it out on the ice.

 

Text over a glass of beer and bingo cards on ad for Lions TV Bingo at Oldman River Brewing in Lundbreck

 

Competitive matches hampered by the cold

The first game of the season, played the evening of New Year’s Day, was hosted by Macleod but won by Pincher Creek with a score 7-5. Lethbridge referee R.D. Robson ensured that a fair game was played. Press reports indicate that the ice was soft, possibly due to the warm weather, but a fast hockey game was pursued.

Initially the Macleod team had the upper hand, but Pincher Creek outskated its opponent in the second half. Only one Pincher Creek player was issued a penalty, while four players from the NWMP settlement to the east “decorated the fence.” Folklore indicates that players and spectators alike were happy with the community recreation.

A second match, this time against Lethbridge on Pincher Creek’s home ice, was hampered by immensely cold conditions. The temperature literally froze at -32 F, with both teams suffering as a result of the cold. At least a pair of hockey enthusiasts from both teams had their feet and fingers touched with intense frostbite.

 

Young girl in multi-coloured jacket and bright pink helmet and ski pants, grins broadly while skating with arms outstretched.

 

So miserable were the conditions that the Lethbridge team was unable to practise on the rink before the game and therefore could not attest to the particularities of the ice. The city press indicated that this put their team to a disadvantage.

Reporters noted that the latter part of the game was “fast and furious.” Pincher Creek established a strong lead early in the match with the scoring of two goals, but quickly Lethbridge held back its ranchland competitor.

Although the puck-handling and passing work by our team was fast paced, it was not always strong enough to break through the city’s defences. However, only once did the Lethbridge offence succeed in overtaking their opponents, resulting in their single goal.

 

Plate of Charlie Biggs' chicken tenders with sauces on the side and link to Blairmore menu.

 

Players from both teams appreciated the chance to pursue their favourite winter sport.

The accompanying photograph from the Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village archives depicts a 1909 hockey game on an outdoor rink on Pincher Creek’s frontier Main Street. This well-patronized ice rink was located on the street’s south side, with the old-time Alberta Hotel and its livery stable situated next to the rink.

Across the street can be seen the Arlington Hotel, which was in business for close to six decades following its construction, circa 1890. Snowdrifts along the creek valley and the Porcupine Hills are visible in the background.

Regional newspaper clippings were used as the research sources for this history article.

 

Downhill skier catches air on ad inviting skiers to stop at Miner's Mercantile in Beaver Mines on their way to the Castle Mountain ski hill.

 

 

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