The Working Class In Winter
Hockey – No One Was Fatally Injured
While hockey was a gentleman’s game, hockey was not. It did not even pretend to be. Guelph workers joined Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) students, banker and retail employees as well as those working in various other crafts and trades to battle it out on the ice. In simple team uniforms, they spiritedly fought each other in City and Industrial Leagues. These leagues were local with no matches outside of Guelph. Prizes were offered in later decades. For example, in 1933, Lancashire Felt won the GCHA championships in 1933.
Among the local Guelph companies boasting hockey teams were:
- Armstrong Manufacturing Co.
- Burr Brothers
- Carpet Mills
- Lancashire Felt
- Raymond Sewing Machine Co
This was in addition to teams formed according to occupation:
- Hotel employees
The nature of the game was rough and tumble, as indicated in the various newspaper reports on the games. On February 1, 1909, one reporter wrote about the game between Armstrong Manufacturing Co. and Raymond’s Sewing Machine Factory “No one was fatally injured, but black eyes and bruises were common.”
The Mercury emphasised these aspects of the game while mocking them in a game that saw the Mercury take on the Herald in January 1908. Titled “Chips Will Fly, “the writers billed the match as one in which the Mercury planned to play “real hockey.” The rules of the game included the following:
1. No players “shall deliberately break more than two sticks”
2. No player “shall deliberately injure or make unfit to play more than two or three of their opponents”
The game was a charity event. The two pretended to haggle over the purse before agreeing that no matter who won, the money was to go to the YMCA building fun – “minus the doctor’s fees,” of course.