HISTORY: Roots of Timmins’ storied links to hockey – by Karen Bachmann (Timmins Daily Press – March 24, 2017)


Karen Bachmann is the curator/director of the Timmins Museum and a writer of local history.

TIMMINS – As you probably know (or maybe you never really thought about it), I don’t usually write about sports – I am smart enough to leave that to the professionals.

By no stretch of anyone’s imagination can I be considered a “sports person”. I know the very basics, have favourite teams (a Habs fan from time immemorial, and I follow Premier League soccer), but I am in no way equipped to conduct a semi-intelligent conversation on the finer points of the game – or any contest, match, bout or derby, for that matter.

Come to think of it, I cannot fully appreciate some of those sports discussions which invariably feature the minute deconstruction of a player’s performance and style, which, I am sorry to say, just sounds an awful lot like “man gossip” to me, but what do I know?

In any event, I thought I would break with tradition today and have a look around at some of the early hockey moments in the Porcupine – and I mean really, really early stuff. According to historian Kari Abel, by January 1912, “the most elaborate affair” (outside of the new mining structures, of course), was the South Porcupine hockey rink (which featured a canvas roof!). Used by local teams who even boasted owning uniforms, challenges were thrown down between bank managers and mine managers, ladies versus men and of course, community against community.

Hockey was a big deal in the early days of the Porcupine – a man’s game for a manly community. Local papers reported on the outcome of the matches; money was raised for uniforms and equipment, and organized games and leagues soon followed.

Of course, this mirrored the new-found enthusiasm Canadians had for hockey. At the beginning of the 20th century, no less than seven new hockey leagues got started.

M.J. O’Brien, Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway commissioner, founder of the town of Renfrew and owner of the Cobalt silver mine that bore his name, was also a huge hockey man.

O’Brien helped found the Temiskaming Hockey League in 1907 and owned teams in Cobalt, Haileybury and Renfrew, as well as in Montreal. All of his teams played in the inaugural season of the National Hockey League. The games however between his Northern Ontario teams were more than just social activities.

For the rest of this article: http://www.timminspress.com/2017/03/24/history-roots-of-timmins-storied-links-to-hockey