While affiliation with the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association didn’t come until 1966, the 1892 crash of Newfoundland banks caused the first hockey contact with mainland Canada. Several Canadian banks came into Newfoundland immediately after the local bank crash and many of their employees were young men with varying degrees of hockey experience.
The arrival in St. John’s, during the 1890s, of the Reid Newfoundland Company to build a trans-island railway across the island had a beneficial influence on hockey.
Exhibition games between St. John’s teams and teams from the Maritime provinces began at the turn of the century while Corner Brook, Grand Falls and Buchans also engaged in exhibition games with visiting teams. In fact, it was while playing for a visiting team that Hugh Wadden impressed Buchans’ officials enough to have him invited to move to the community.
It was at the February 8, 1949 annual general meeting that Buchans was denied permission to add Kirkland Lake, Ontario players Frank Bowman, “Scotty” MacPhail, “Red” Croteau, “Humby” Smith and “Bun” Smith to their roster, and Grand Falls was prevented from adding former NHLer Gordie Drillon.
But those rulings marked the introduction of “imports” to provincial senior hockey.
The 1950 AGM, held March 13 in Grand Falls, tabled correspondence between Mr. Dudey of the CAHA and NAHA president R.S. Furlong. There was a motion that the NAHA accept the CAHA invitation to join and Fred Thistle of St. John’s was made a committee of one to study the financial setup of union.
The 1951 AGM, held April 2 in Corner Brook, reaffirmed acceptance of the invitation to join the CAHA. Chairmen Furlong was empowered to conclude arrangements with the NAHA having the same status as provinces like British Columbia, where the provincial association had sole jurisdiction within the province. The CAHA proposal for the NAHA to become part of the Maritime Amateur Hockey Association was unanimously rejected.
The 1953 AGM was held March 12 in Grand Falls and attended by CAHA president W.B. George, who told the meeting that the NAHA could affiliate with the MAHA with no loss of autonomy. President Ralph Colyer and secretary-treasurer Walter Clarke were appointed to meet with the MAHA.
The 1954 AGM, March 11 in Grand Falls, deferred the MAHA affiliation to 1955 for further information.
It wasn’t until the 1960 AGM in Harbour Grace that MAHA affiliation was recorded again in the minutes. President Vince Rossiter, registrar Ted Withers and Clarke were to attend the CAHA meeting in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
The 1961 AGM, held in Gander April 3, deferred the CAHA affiliation decision. Gordon Jukes of the CAHA attended the 1961 fall meeting September 22 in Corner Brook.
The NAHA obtained MAHA referees Laurie Powers and Dewar Judson for several provincial senior hockey finals around 1954 and 1955.
It was after the 1966 affiliation with the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association that competition with outside teams really accelerated. For XXX years, Newfoundland and Labrador champions played for the Allan Cup national AAA senior hockey championship, and occasionally for the Hardy Cup national AA senior hockey championship.
The 1986 Corner Brook Royals won the Allan Cup and the 1989 Port aux Basques Mariners won the Hardy Cup.
It should be noted that as soon as artificial ice became available, touring teams, including the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League, played exhibition games in various Newfoundland centers.