Origins of Hockey’s Memorial Cup

Monday, May 24, 1915

In billets, Le Hamel

The Battalion War Diarist wrote nothing for this day. [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: “Poison proved effective to the east of Ypres early yesterday morning, as it did a month ago in the same region.  Sir John French reported to the War Office last night that at 3 o’clock in the morning, under cover of poisonous gases, the German infantry attacked the British line to the east of Ypres.  At the same time the German artillery began to fire shells, which also contain asphyxiating gas.  The British troops were forced to evacuate some of their trenches, and the enemy penetrated the line in two or three places.  When the report was sent fighting was still in progress, and some portions of the original front line had been retaken.

This report will do much to end criticism of the announced intention of the British and French War Offices to meet poison with poison.  The handicap under which the soldiers of the allied powers rest is too great to be continued.  It is clear that under favourable conditions the Germans can send poisonous gas towards the British lines near Ypres in such volume that respirators do not enable the men to face the deadly fumes.  It is reported that an elaborate plant for the production and distribution of poisonous gas over a thirty mile front in Alsace is now in process of construction in the Muelhausen district, where the Germans fear a French advance toward the Rhine.  The Allies are not likely to let warfare of that sort remain one-sided indefinitely.”   [3]

Memorial Cup
Memorial Cup

The Memorial Cup is a junior ice hockey club championship trophy awarded annually to the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) champion.   In 2015 the Memorial Cup will be held in Quebec City, QC when the 97th annual tournament is played from May 22-31.

The Memorial Cup, coveted prize of Canadian junior hockey, was the brainchild of Capt. Jim Sutherland when he was overseas in the Great War and at the time, President of the Ontario Hockey Association (1915–17). He wrote suggesting the trophy in memory of the boys who were killed in the war and no doubt a big part of the idea was instigated by his devotion to his beloved Alan Scotty Davidson*, who fell June 6, 1915 with many other hockey players in the world conflict, including Capt. George T. Richardson*, who died in France, Feb. 9, 1916.  *Both are members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.  [5]

The trophy was originally known as the OHA Memorial Cup and was donated by the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) in 1919 to be awarded to the junior champion of Canada. From its inception until 1971, the Memorial Cup was open to all Junior A teams in the country and was awarded following a series of league, provincial and regional playoffs culminating in an east-west championship. The three-league tournament format began in 1972 when the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association divided the Junior A rank into two tiers, naming the Memorial Cup as the championship of the Major Junior level.

[1]  War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, May 24, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa,
[2] “War Summary,”  The Globe (1844-1936), Toronto, Ontario, Tuesday, May 25, 1915, pg. 1, col. 1.
[3] Ibid.
[5] Taken from:  William J. Walshe, “Comments on Sport”, The Kingston Whig-Standard, Jan. 6, 1939.

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