Amateur Hockey Leagues formed the basis of hockey as we know it today. Starting with the Amateur Hockey Association in 1893 we look at these leagues and their history over time. In addition we look at the development of the Senior Hockey Leagues throughout North America.

Amateur Hockey leagues

The National Hockey League can trace it's roots back to some of the early amateur leagues pre 1900 that were primarily in what was then known as the Dominion of Canada. In 1885 the first hockey league in Canada was formed in Kingston Ontario, the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada was formed in 1886-87 and in 1890 the Ontario Hockey Association was organized.

This was the era of seven-man hockey, with the clubs allowed to carry only one spare using him only in case of an injury and 60 minute games. The championship team was decided by whoever finished in first place in the league standings at the end of the season. In the early days competition from the West didn't exist although Winnipeg had formed an amateur hockey league in 1891.

In March of 1892, Lord Stanley of Preston, the sixth Governor-General of Canada announced his intention to donate a Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup. The first recipient of the trophy that was soon known as the Stanley Cup was the Montreal AAA club in 1893. It wasn't until 1896 that the Winnipeg Victorias traveled to Montreal bringing the Stanley Cup to the west for the first time.

Of the many great early championship teams, the Ottawa Silver Seven club was perhaps the best. They won the Stanley Cup in 1903, 1904 and 1905 and successfully defeated two challengers during the 1906 season before losing the Cup to the Montreal Wanderers.

It was around this time that professional hockey came into the picture. With top teams now willing to pay high salaries for talent, senior amateur clubs found they could not compete successfully with these professional leagues. The Stanley Cup became the championship trophy of professional hockey in1908 leaving amateur leagues in Canada without a championship cup. This problem was rectified in 1908 when Sir Montagu Allan of Montreal came forward and donated a new hockey trophy called the Alan Cup.

For many years senior amateur hockey in Canada exceeded the professional National Hockey League in terms of popularity. NHL teams would only ever represent a handful of Canadian cities (and just Toronto and Montreal from 1934 until 1970) while virtually every community of any size across the country could and did ice a senior amateur team. Most teams consisted of "community players" born and raised where they played hockey. The Ottawa Cliffsides were the first winners of the Allan Cup and in 1909 Queen's University of Kingston won the crown. The Winnipeg Victorias were the first western club to win the Allan Cup in 1911 and became the first team to win back-to-back Canadian senior hockey championships when they repeated in 1912.

Although senior amateur hockey in Canada is not as popular as it once was, the Allan Cup is still contested each year and community pride brings with it some excellent hockey.

Listing of Amateur League Pages

** League listed but missing information.