There was hockey played in St. John’s in the 1890s, mostly on Quidi Vidi Lake, but also on Mundy Pond and sections of the Waterford River.
The opening of the Prince’s Rink in 1899 and the donation of the Boyle Trophy in 1904 were important catalysts that, in the case of the Rink, lasted until it was destroyed by fire in 1941 and, in the case of the Boyle Trophy, lasted until the demise of the St. John’s Senior League in 1971.
Hockey within St. John’s was the pace setter within Newfoundland and Labrador but this was to be expected since the capital city was the largest community and was adjacent to an ever-increasing number of people and smaller communities. As in many sports, for a long period of time, St. John’s hockey facilities were used by leagues and teams from outside the city’s limits.
From the outset, with some notable exceptions, senior and then junior and school hockey were based upon religion. That situation even finally extended into minor hockey.
A joke that came out of this situation said “the definition of an atheist was someone who went to the stadium when Guards were playing St. Bon’s and didn’t care who won.” That was very, very close to the truth and, especially from the opening of Memorial Stadium in 1954 to the start of the demise of the senior league around 1970, religious differences in hockey were often bitter on both sides. This bitterness extended to other sports. The religious prejudice existed on both sides but, thankfully, decreased at a fairly rapid rate until it simply didn’t exist at the turn of the new century.