Ottawa New Edinburghs and the Ottawa City Hockey League

Posted on Behind the Boards (SIHR Blog). The first installations of the Ottawa City Hockey League appeared during the 1890s, where it was first an...
By sr edler · Mar 31, 2021 · Updated Apr 1, 2021
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  1. sr edler i'm off to LA

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    The first installations of the Ottawa City Hockey League appeared during the 1890s, where it was first an amateur league with both senior and junior teams, and later a junior league only. Among the inaugural clubs during the 1890–91 season were the Ottawa Hockey Club, Ottawa Gladstones, Ottawa College and Dey’s Rink Pirates. In the latter half of the decade some of the more well known teams were the Ottawa Aberdeens, Ottawa Maples and Ottawa College.

    During the first decade of the 1900s the Ottawa City Hockey League again morphed into a senior amateur league, where the teams would mix its rosters with young promising prospects and more established puck chasers. During the 1905–1910 window, leading up to the creation of the Interprovincial Amateur Hockey Union (IPAHU) in 1908–09 and the professional National Hockey Association (NHA) in 1909–10, the most prominent teams in the local city league were the Ottawa New Edinburghs, Ottawa Cliffsides, Ottawa Emmetts and Ottawa Primrose.

    The Ottawa New Edinburghs, from the New Edinburgh neighborhood of Ottawa, played its first season in 1905–06 and had brought over its nucleus of players from the 1904–05 W. C. Edwards team: defenseman Jack Ryan and forwards Guy Boyce, Maurice “Morley” Neate and Charlie Snelling. Ryan, Boyce and Neate were all in their early 20s whereas Snelling was 19 years old. Joining the team for the 1905–06 was also 21-year old defenseman Horace Merrill, also an outstanding paddler with the New Edinburgh Canoe Club, under which parent organization the ice hockey club also operated. Many of the players on the hockey team were multi-sport athletes and also figured in paddling or football, or in both.

    Despite having a good team the 1905–06 Ottawa New Edinburghs didn’t manage to challenge successfully for the league championship, finishing in second place in Section A of the league behind the Ottawa Emmetts. The Emmetts then went on the claim the championship for the 1905–06 season by defeating the Ottawa Primrose of Section B 6 goals to 3 on January 2, 1907 in a deciding game that had been postponed from the previous season.[1]

    The green-shirted Ottawa Emmetts, managed by its president Sam Bilsky, had a good group of players spearheaded by Jack Ebbs and future NHA players Billy Hague, Tommy Westwick, Horace Gaul and Nick Bawlf. Another player who had come up through the Ottawa Emmetts ranks, and played for the club during the previous 1903–04 and 1904–05 seasons, was sharpshooting forward Tommy Smith. Tommy Smith would later go on to enjoy a highly distinguished career that eventually landed him in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Billy Hague, Tommy Westwick and Nick Bawlf of the Ottawa Emmetts​

    For the 1906–07 city league season the Ottawa New Edinburghs were joined by a young swift skating prospect in 17-year old forward Eddie Gerard, who had ascended up through the junior ranks of the organization. The team again finished second in Section A, after having lost a playoff game to the blue and white-shirted Ottawa Cliffsides 3 goals to 5 on March 19, 1907. The Ottawa Cliffsides would then go on to claim the city league championship on March 21 after having defeated the Ottawa Emmetts of Section B 4 goals to 1. The Cliffsides had strong group of players in Charles McKinley, Basil Frith, Norman Henry, Stephen “Coo” Dion, Billy Stewart and Alan Powell. “Coo” Dion would later in his career turn down offers to turn professional with both the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators in the NHA.[2][3]

    The Ottawa New Edinburghs found its league winning formula during the 1907–08 city league season, edging out the Cliffsides by two points in the standing, claiming the championship. Charlie Snelling emerged as the primary goal scorer on the team with 21 goals in 8 games, and Morley Neate was second on the team with 14 goals. Snelling, a centre forward position wise, was particularly effective around the nets of the opposing teams.[4] The team also got coaching help during the season from Alf Smith, the famous Ottawa Hockey Club player and coach. The Ottawa New Edinburghs were not a farm club to, or officially affiliated with, the Ottawa Hockey Club, but as they practiced against them at the Dey’s Arena they were also colloquially known as the “Ottawa Seconds”. They also played in the same red, white and black colours as the Ottawa Hockey Club. Billy Smith, a younger brother of Alf and Tommy Smith, led the league in goal scoring during the 1907–08 season with 25 goals in 8 games for the fourth placed Ottawa Emmetts.

    [​IMG]
    Ottawa New Edinburghs in 1907–08. Players, left to right: Guy Boyce, Eddie Gerard,
    Morley Neate, Horace Merrill, Charlie Snelling, Jack Ryan and Lou Wright.
    Standing behind Gerard and Neate is coach Alf Smith.​

    The Ottawa Cliffsides moved to the newly founded Interprovincial Amateur Hockey Union for the 1908–09 season, where they eventually claimed the league championship and were awarded the inaugural Allan Cup, the newly instated trophy given to the amateur champions of Canada. Ottawa Cliffsides II, the second team of the club, took their place in the city league, but it couldn’t match the strength of the first team. With the Cliffsides out of the way in the city league, the defending champions of the Ottawa New Edinburghs instead found its main rival in the Ottawa Emmetts. The Emmetts had done a complete overhaul of its roster from the previous season and brought in a number of promising teenage forwards in 17-year olds Gordon Roberts and Alex Currie, and 16-year old Harry Broadbent. Also new on the team was 21-year old Harry McLaughlin, previously with the Hawkesbury Hockey Club in the Lower Ottawa Valley Hockey League (LOHA).

    Gordon Roberts scored a league leading 19 goals during the 1908–09 city league season – while McLaughlin, Broadbent and Currie scored 16, 14 and 11 goals respectively – which helped the Emmetts to go toe-to-toe with the Ottawa New Edinburghs in the league standing. Charlie Snelling scored 19 goals for the New Edinburghs, tying Roberts for the goal scoring title, and Eddie Gerard added 11 goals for the New Edinburghs. The two teams finished tied at first place in the standing with 10 points each.

    Two playoff games were arranged on March 10 and 13 to decide a league champion for 1908–09, and the Ottawa Emmetts managed to take the first game by a score of 6 goals to 3. McLaughlin and Roberts scored two goals each for the Emmetts, with Harry Broadbent and Alf Holt adding one each, and for the Ottawa New Edinburghs Boyce, Neate and Gerard had one goal each.[5] But the New Edinburghs managed to turn the tables on the Emmetts three days later and won the second game 6 goals to 1, for a final score of 9 goals to 7. Guy Boyce, Morley Neate and Charlie Snelling scored two goals each in the final game, whereas Alex Currie scored a late consolation goal for the Emmetts.[6]

    Ottawa Emmetts newly acquired forward line would depart in its entirety for the following 1909–10 season. Both “Doc” Roberts and “Punch” Broadbent, starting their professional careers with the Ottawa Senators in the NHA, would go on to enjoy highly distinguished careers that eventually landed them both in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Alex Currie also ended up in the NHA with the Ottawa Senators. Harry McLaughlin had professional offers to join both the Quebec Bulldogs and the Toronto Shamrocks in the NHA, but he instead chose to stay amateur and compete for the Allan Cup with the Grand-Mère Hockey Club of the IPAHU.[7]

    [​IMG]
    Harry McLaughlin while a member of the Hawkesbury Hockey Club​

    With the Ottawa Emmetts depleted of its most potent players, the new league addition of the Ottawa Stewartons instead presented itself as the main rival for the Ottawa New Edinburghs for the 1909–10 season. The Stewartons had their own bright prospects in 17-year old goalkeeper Clint Benedict and 19-year old forward Jack Darragh, and the two youngsters helped the yellow and black coloured aggregation to tie the Ottawa New Edinburghs at the top of the league standing at the end of the season. Darragh scored 11 goals in five games for the Stewartons, whereas Benedict sported a 3.00 goals against average. On the Ottawa New Edinburghs Charlie Snelling scored a league leading 23 goals, while Eddie Gerard scored 17 times. Both Benedict and Darragh later went on to enjoy Hockey Hall of Fame careers, also joining Ottawa Senators in the NHA.

    A decisive playoff game between the two clubs was scheduled for March 19, 1910 where the Ottawa New Edinburghs managed to fight off the Stewartons, winning 2 goals to 1 in a hard-fought contest on a slushy ice surface at the Ottawa Arena. Harry Parker gave the Stewartons the lead, but Charlie Snelling and Guy Boyce answered with one goal each for the New Edinburghs, despite a strong performance by Benedict in front of the Stewartons nets, which was enough for a third consecutive league title.[8]

    [​IMG]
    A young Clint Benedict with the Ottawa Stewartons​

    During the 1910–11 season the Ottawa New Edinburghs figured both in the Ottawa City Hockey League and in the IPAHU, winning both leagues. In the IPAHU they were joined by Clint Benedict of the Ottawa Stewartons and managed to defeat the Grand-Mère Hockey Club for the championship by an aggregated score of 16–9 (7-5, 9-4) on March 11 and 15, 1911. As it was too late in the season, the Ottawa New Edinburghs didn’t get an opportunity to challenge the Winnipeg Victorias for the Allan Cup. 1910–11 was also the last season of competitive hockey for Charlie Snelling and Morley Neate.

    After the 1910–11 season the Ottawa New Edinburghs departed the Ottawa City Hockey League for the IPAHU along with the Ottawa Stewartons, and the league subsequently took a 4-year hiatus before coming back for the 1915–16 season. In 1911–12 the Ottawa New Edinburghs would again win the IPAHU, defeating the Montreal Victorias in the league final by a score of 24 goals to 10 (7-3, 17-7), but again it was too late to challenge for the Allan Cup, this time against the Winnipeg Hockey Club. After the 1911–12 season Horace Merrill left the team for the Ottawa Senators in the NHA.

    During the 1912–13 and 1913–14 seasons the Ottawa New Edinburghs twice lost in the IPAHU finals to the Grand-Mère Hockey Club. Guy Boyce left the team after the 1912–13 season to manage the Ottawa Britannia in the IPAHU. 24-year old Eddie Gerard finally left the New Edinburghs during the 1913–14 season, for the Ottawa Senators in the NHA, only playing in two games in the IPAHU that year. He later became a core piece on the early 1920s Ottawa Senators Stanley Cup winning dynasty, after having first switched from left wing to defense.


    Sources:

    [1] Ottawa Citizen, Jan. 3, 1907
    [2] Montreal Gazette, Feb. 6, 1911
    [3] Ottawa Citizen, Feb. 3, 1913
    [4] Ottawa Citizen, Feb. 11, 1910
    [5] Ottawa Citizen, Mar. 11, 1909
    [6] Ottawa Journal, Mar. 15, 1909
    [7] Ottawa Citizen, Jan. 20, 1914
    [8] Ottawa Journal, Mar. 21, 1910


    Posted on Behind the Boards (SIHR Blog)
     
  2. Theokritos Global Moderator

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    Quite a few real prominent names in this one.

    Is it known why the Ottawa HC played in red, white and black? And the Ottawa New Edinburghs in the same colours? That seems a bit curious.
     
  3. sr edler i'm off to LA

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    I think the colours of the Ottawa Hockey Club was originally red and black, and then they briefly went with blue and gold, and then they adopted the colours of the Ottawa Amateur Athletic Association (OAAA) which was red, black and white. All this happened in the late 1880s/early 1890s.

    The Ottawa New Edinburghs came out of the parent canoe club organization, which I think had red as its primary colour. As you can see in the 1907–08 team photo above it seems to be primarily red and white, but they probably incorporated black either as a minor colour or as a secondary colour, or both if you so will. Sometimes teams had secondary/minor colours on the collars or on the stockings.
     
  4. Sanf Registered User

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    Very nice article again. Love the picture of young Benedict. Don´t remember seeing that.

    City league was bit of mess during some of those years with all the protests. Billy Hague reminded me of one of those. I think it may have been Dick Long (Also seen Lang, but I go with that) who played in Emmets goal in that 1905-1906 final (in 1907). Hague "signed" after the final. And almost immediately there was claims that he had received money from playing or atleast played with or against professionals.

    The Ottawa Citizen 16 Jan 1907
    If Billy Hague, former goal-keeper of the Ottawas, plays for Emmets tonight in their match against the Russell house septet at Rideau rink, both teams will be declared professional, unless Hague, before going on the ice produces affidavit, swearing that he has never taken money for his services as an athlete...

    ....
    If Emmets continue to playing the man in question, all the other teams against whom they compete will find themselves under the ban

    Mr. Blisky tells us that Hague is the only goal-minder available." said Mr. Grierson last evening. "But we shall certainly refuse to let him play unless he takes out an affidavit. Spittal is an out-and-out professional and Hague knew this when he played with him. If the City league intends to remain amateur they must abide by the union´s decisions or suffer the consequences."..
     
  5. sr edler i'm off to LA

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    Yeah, this thing with players being told to produce affidavits was not an entirely uncommon procedure in some of the amateur leagues at the time, and as you said some of those years were pretty chaotic. The 1904–05 city league season also ended in chaotic meetings between most (or all) of the clubs after the Emmetts protested Rialtos use of Nelson Dunning, and the Rialtos subsequently refusing the Emmetts a rematch.

    The amateur/pro hockey dynamics most definitely had an unruly aspect to it.

    It also happened sometimes that teams dropped out of the league for various reasons too. For instance, the Emmetts in their last city league season in 1910–11 dropped out of the league after only 4 games after their defenseman Jim O'Leary suffered a gruesome leg break (compound fracture above his left ankle).
     
  6. kaiser matias Registered User

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    I think you've mentioned this before, but how are you getting access to the newspaper archives? And are you getting the photos directly from there yourself? They are really neat to see, and in good condition.
     
  7. sr edler i'm off to LA

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    Yeah, those photos are sourced mostly directly from the newspapers at the time, Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Journal in this case, through newspapers.com, and yeah I've picked them off of there myself through the years. Conveniently enough the era I'm researching (up to 1922) is also the cheapest one from a subscription standpoint, so I've had a subscription there on and off. It's also the most convenient era from a copyright standpoint.

    There are other ways to source photos too though, through old journals, et cetera.
     
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  8. sr edler i'm off to LA

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    Some other prominent players who came up with the Ottawa New Edinburghs specifically in the following years were the Boucher brothers (George, Frank & Bobby) and Aurele Joliat. Joliat, despite being French Canadian and playing his whole NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens, was an Ottawa boy who came up through the Ottawa City Hockey League.
     
  9. Sanf Registered User

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    Yeah City League certainly had lots of future stars and pro players. Is there any players that have left you a feeling that they could have made noise in bigger leagues? But for reason or another never played in one (or had just short stint). Years ago I remember being quite impressed about goalie (surprise) Charlie McKinley.
     
  10. sr edler i'm off to LA

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    Coo Dion (Cliffsides) turned down offers to turn pro from both Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators in the NHA. Harry McLaughlin (Emmetts) turned down pro offers from Quebec Bulldogs and Toronto Ontarios/Shamrocks in the NHA. I think those two could have been decent mid-range/mid-top players/scorers in the NHA if they had given it a go. But it also depends on what you mean with "noise". I don't think they would have become these big league altering stars.

    Some other guys are harder to get a grip on. Billy Smith, the second youngest brother of the famed Smith family, showed real goal scoring promise in the OSCHL, FAHL and the IPAHU, but never gave the pro game a chance (for reasons unknown to me) before tailing off in his late 20s. Then you have Charlie Snelling also, a prominent goal scorer with the New Edinburghs who also played one game for the Ottawa Hockey Club in the ECAHA in 1907 where he recorded a hat-trick. It's possible he could've made some goal-scoring noise in the NHA, who knows. But he was also involved in paddling, baseball, basketball and bowling, so it's hard to know exactly how serious he was regarding his longterm hockey prospects? Not serious enough it seems as he quit aged 24.

    Regarding goalies, I won't challenge you on that since you're more of an expert than me, but Fred McCulloch came up through the Ottawa City Hockey League with the Coopers and the Buena Vistas.

    With Charles McKinley I have no better grasp than you regarding his general talent level, but one trivia about McKinley is that he, much like Percy LeSueur, started his career as a forward (in McKinley's case with the Ottawa Aberdeens of the OAHA).
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2021
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  11. Sanf Registered User

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    Yes that I was pretty much looking for. :) Players that could have very well made a pro career. McCulloch is very good one too.

    I think Ray Bonney also was briefly with Cliffsides II, but then replaced by Percy McLean for reasons I do not know. Bonney had quite prominent career after that.

    Can his date of birth be right in Wiki (April 5. 1982)? I have seen him playing exhibition games for Hull-Excelsior in 1906 and that would make him 13 at the time. He did continue till 1927 so he probably was young, but that young? (playing with "homeless" Detroit Millionaires and with Winter Garden Maroons in California pro league)
     
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  12. sr edler i'm off to LA

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    I think Bonney played in the Wright County Hockey League in 1906, where he would have been 14 years old in April if the DOB is correct. I haven't studied that particular league, so I don't know its exact status (junior, intermediate, et cetera), but a 14-year old goalie is probably more likely than a 14-year old skater at least since the goalie position was less physical in general.


    Edit: Did a quick ancestry where it said 1891. Sometimes there can be a year on or off in either direction. But say he was just about to turn 15, that's not unreasonable. I've also only seen one recorded game for him for that particular season, so it seems he shared the position with some other guys too.
     
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  13. Sanf Registered User

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    Yep one year is quite a lot in that age.

    To be honest I´m not entirely sure what type of league it was either. Could have been very well junior game even. I remember that Excelsior had some problems finding league and in 1907-1908 they joined L.O.H.A. It´s been some years when I did these researches and haven´t really gone that deep in all the local leagues.
     
  14. Theokritos Global Moderator

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    I don't know much about Charlie Snelling, but I remember reading somewhere that he quit hockey to become a taxi driver. What can you tell us about him, @sr edler?
     
  15. sr edler i'm off to LA

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    Well, this theory comes from his WW1 attestation papers where it says he's a "motor truck chauffeur", whatever that means, probably that he's a chauffeur of motor trucks ( :rolleyes: ) This is from 1918 though, which is 7 years after he left hockey, so I don't know how much it holds regarding direct correlation. Same papers also says he's married to "Mrs. Charles B. Snelling" and is living in Rockcliffe Park, Ottawa. Library of Congress also has him as a CPL military rank wise, a Corporal.

    He was apparently quite short, even for the era, as papers below has him at 5 feet and 4 & ½ inches (164 centimeters). Ottawa Citizen from February 11, 1910 says he's "one of the most versatile athletes in the city" as he was also a "crack paddler" (with the New Edinburgh crew) and also played "bowling, basketball and baseball equally well", as well as being a quarterback substitute on the Ottawa football team, champions of the Interprovincial Amateur Football Union.

    As for his hockey skills same notice (February 11, 1910) says he's "being particularly effective round the nets of the opposing teams".

    [​IMG]
     

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