History

The Newfoundland Amateur Hockey Association came into being during a meeting held December 19, 1935 in the St. John’s office, on Duckworth St., of lawyer Robert S. Furlong. Mr. Furlong, who later served as Chief Justice of Newfoundland from 1959 to 1979, had a long association with St. Bon’s hockey teams.

Mr. Furlong was elected the first NAHA president with Ronald B. Taaffe of Corner Brook as vice-president. Arthur Johnson was secretary and St. Bon’s star player Gordon Halley was chairman for St. John’s.

Hon. Justice W.J. Higgins, Ralph Herder and Edgar Ewing, all of St. John’s, were named to serve on a constitutional and “judicial” committee.

The December 19 meeting was a follow-up to a meeting held in March of 1935, during the time that Corner Brook and the Guards of St. John’s played the first final for the Herder Memorial Trophy.

The meeting set up a four-game, round-robin playoff for 1936 with the western Newfoundland champions, the Conception Bay champions and the St. John’s champions entered. The two top teams would meet for the Herder Memorial Trophy in the fourth game.

The association would receive 60% of the gate receipts from the Prince’s Rink in St. John’s where all the games would be played.

Grand Falls, Buchans and Corner Brook constituted the western Newfoundland branch, while Bell Island, Harbour Grace, Brigus, Bay Roberts, Carbonear and Spaniard’s Bay comprised the Conception Bay branch.

The March, 1935 meeting formed the committee to look into the formation of a governing body for hockey. That committee consisted of St. John’s residents Robert S. Furlong, Arthur Johnson, Gordon Stirling, John Tobin and Arthur Rendall, and Ronald Taaffe of Corner Brook.

The March, 1935 meeting formed the committee to look into the formation of a governing body for hockey. That committee consisted of St. John’s residents Robert S. Furlong, Arthur Johnson, Gordon Stirling, John Tobin and Arthur Rendall, and Ronald Taaffe of Corner Brook.

The committee met with Ken Goodyear and Harry Baird of Grand Falls when those two men were in St. John’s with the Grand Falls’ soccer team.

The various preliminary talks were successful and, when the December 19, 1935 meeting was held, it was able to establish the Newfoundland Amateur Hockey Association.

At its 1999 annual meeting, the name of the organization was changed to the Newfoundland and Labrador Hockey Association.

Prior to the NAHA being founded in 1935, there was a great deal of hockey in Newfoundland, including competitions and exhibitions between various Newfoundland communities and several involving teams from the Canadian Maritimes.

The founding of the NAHA was the most important hockey happening within Newfoundland and Labrador since, for the first time, it put in place a governing body for the sport and established rules and guidelines that would eventually bring hockey into the excellent condition that it enjoys today.

While its growth and expansion may have been slow, it was sure and it provided a representative organization at various times in its history when a hockey spokesman was essential.

At the outset, the NAHA negotiated, rather easily, with the Herder family on the presentation of the Herder Memorial Trophy. It put in place a set of circumstances under which various communities and areas could compete and, generally, ran provincial hockey in Newfoundland and later in Labrador.

After Confederation in 1949, the NAHA eventually brought the province into the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association in 1966 and negotiated and handled all the aspects of that affiliation. It set up the various levels of hockey that corresponded with national levels and was responsible for officiating and coaching programs that were beneficial for the sport.

In 1966, minor hockey became an official part of the NAHA and intermediate hockey was introduced. Minor hockey had been a separate organization for 10 years.

The 1935 founding meeting will affect Newfoundland and Labrador hockey forever.