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Newmarket's a hockey town at its heart (14 photos)

In his continuing review of Newmarket's sports heritage, History Hound Richard MacLeod highlights local hockey champions and teams

Newmarket has long been fascinated with the sport of hockey.

There has been organized hockey in and around Newmarket since the mid 1880s, and before that, private games on ponds. We may not have produced any champions during this early period, but it is clear that the game was hotly contested and provided its supporters with considerable entertainment and pride. 

In the early days, teams were generally made up of seven players, each one expected to play the entire 60 minutes. The game was played on a much smaller surface than it is today, and our first rink was on the northwest side of Main Street at Davis Drive. It had an ice dimension of about 55 feet by 130 feet with curling rinks on the north and south sides measuring about 10 feet wide.

In the 1898- 1899 season, team captain Alfred Allan served as president and Thomas F. Doyle was the secretary treasurer. The listed players were: Jack Kennedy, in goal; Jack Kelly at point; Thomas E. Kelly at cover point; Clarence Pipher at forward; George Simpson at forward; Walter Trivett at forward; and Edward S. Doyle at forward.   

We also have records of some of the executives for the early 1900s. In 1901-1902, Al Binns is listed as president, vice-president was W. C. Howard, the secondary treasure was Ken Robertson and T.M. Lepard, George Simpson, Thomas F. Doyle, William J. Smith, Roy Trivett, W.H.S. Cane, A. Brundette, Alva Brunton, Dr. C, H.R. Clark, J. Kennedy, Albert Flanagan , Walter O’Holloran  and Thomas E. Kelly all served on the executive.  It appears that there was no lack of community involvement.  

In the 1914 season, a group of locals captured the Allan Moore Cup, the championship of the Metropolitan League.  The players are identified as Ernest A. Doyle, Frank (Scotty) Duncan, Carl Brodie, Wesley Gibney, H. Smith, Leslie Riley and George Epworth.

During the 1926 to 1927 season, the Newmarket Junior team was an OHA finalist, a foreshadowing of the great things to come.  On that team were C. Corbitt, Bruce Trivett, W. (Bill) Thoms, Fred Murray, Sonny Townsley, Scrugge Perrault, Charles Thoms, Parker Lister, Doug Marshall, Doc Ames, and the manager was Fred Thompson.  A couple of the players on this team went on to great things in the sport.

I am fortunate to have several photos of the teams back then, many of which I have posted with this article. Hockey was a major sporting pastime and a real crowd pleaser locally.  For more information on the local facilities back then, I invite you to read my articles on the subject on Newmarket Today under Remember This.   

When talk arose of the need to renaming Newmarket’s Redmen arose, local talk soon turned to the team that had originated the name (it should be stated for the record that the name referred to the color of the team’s uniform, which was unique at the time and not any aboriginal reference) and the team that brought so much fame to the town.   

Most people know the story of how our local hockey heroes captured the Dominion Junior Hockey Championship (the Memorial Cup), the glory it brought to Newmarket and the fact that no other town of our size before or after had managed to perform such a sporting feat. 

As I mentioned above, Newmarket’s junior teams of the 1920s and early 1930s were strong, perennially ‘knocking at the door’. In the winter of 1928 to 1929, it was necessary to virtually start from scratch as players like Bill Thoms (headed to the NHL), Dodger Collins and Elis Pringle were lost to the team due to age. The team won its division against Barrie but were eliminated by Parry Sound.  The next year they again advanced to round two, only to be eliminated by Parry Sound. It was the third year of the re-build that things began to take off. 

For the 1930 to 1931 season, the team added several great talents to the team, including Sparky Vail, Normie Mann and Red McArthur. The team was already boasting a roster that included Herb Cain (a future NHL great), Don Wilson, Larry Molyneaux, Bob McCabe and Bob Peters.

While we made it further that year, making it to the provincial championship, the team decided to add Bill Hancock as coach, seen as a real coup. Again in 1931 to 1932, we made the provincial finals, only to lose.

For the fateful 1932 to 1933 season, having lost Herb Cain, Larry Molyneaux and Bob Peters to age restrictions, the team would add Pep Kelly, Howard Peterson, Frank Higgins, Silver Doran and Ran Forder to the mix. This time proved the charm and this team would go on to make national as well as local hockey history. 

It is interesting to read the news reports of the day.  Many felt that the team was too heavily seeded with ‘imported players’.  The game of hockey is known for the practice of seeking out the best talent it can find and bringing them in to create a super team. Toronto had long scouted nationwide for talent, so the criticism seems unfounded.  

For those who are not aware of Newmarket’s path to national prominence, I will offer you a brief timeline. The Remen’s first opponent was the National Sea Fleas who Newmarket would eliminate in two games.

In the Ontario final, Newmarket met the Stratford team in a best of three series. Newmarket would prevail, winning two games to one. Next up were the reigning OHA champion Sudbury Wolves and the Ottawa team, both a best of three contest with Newmarket prevailing.

Having escaped the Ontario division, Newmarket headed to Montreal to take on the Quebec Champions, which they dispatched.  

Finally, Newmarket was set to take on the Regina Pats, the Western champions. The games were scheduled to be played at Maple Leaf Gardens and when the dust had settled, our home team had won the Canadian Championship, sweeping their opponent in two games straight.  

A group of names were now etched in the psyche of all Newmarket Hockey fans. The champion team consisted of: in goal Ran Forder, his backup Jimmy Parr; on defence Sparky Vail, Silver Doran, Garson Preston; the forwards Normie Mann, Don Wilson, Red McArthur, Frank Huggins, Pep Kelly, and Howard Peterson.  Added from our town league, due to injuries were Aub Marshal and Mac Ogilvie. The coach was Bill Hancock, and manager Stan Smith.  

Over the intervening years, we have been blessed to have had some great teams while producing some talented players.  Some of the Newmarket teams that have entertained us and provided our youth the opportunity to excel include: 

The Newmarket Hurricanes who played in the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League from 1987 to 2019.  They had remarkable success and fell just shy of winning the Dudley Cup, emblematic of the national championship.

The Newmarket Saints, our American Hockey League franchise from 1986 to 1991 who also served as the farm team of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Newmarket Royals, a franchise in the Ontario Hockey League from 1992 to 1994.

The Newmarket Flyers, part of the OPJHL Junior A league from 1975 to 1986.

The Newmarket Redmen franchise that began in the late 1920s and served us well right up to 2019 in one form or another.

Currently, Newmarket is the home to many rep and select teams going by the name the Newmarket Renegades after shelving the historic Redmen brand.

The Newmarket Smoke Rings were a Junior C team in the 1950s who played in the Ontario Hockey Association. They were a strong team which won the Clarence Schmalz Cup, emblematic of the league championship in 1956, 1958, and 1959.

Newmarket has also produced several skilled hockey players that have brought considerable pride to their community.  Here is a brief listing of some of those who hail from Newmarket:

Darren Archibald, AHL hockey player with the Belleville Senators

Quinton Byfield, the 2nd overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. 

Herb Cain, a former NHL hockey player primarily with Boston who was the 1944 NHL scoring champion.

Dit Clapper, a member of the NHL Hall of Fame.

Travis Dermott, Steve Downie, Brian Elliott, Kurtis Gabriel, Corey Locke, Chuck Luksa, Randy Legge, Mike Kitchen, Jamie Macoun, Connor McDavid, Joe Murphy, Shayne Stevenson, Bill Thoms and Ron Zepp who were all NHL players hailing from Newmarket.

Wes Jarvis, a former AHL and NHL hockey who was also a former head coach of the Newmarket Hurricanes of the OPJHL and an assistant coach with the Barrie Colts.

Three of the players from the glory days of the 1930s, Bill Thoms, Larry Molyneaux and Sparky Vale deserve separate articles in recognition of their contributions to the game locally and I intend to do just that in future articles.  

I urge you to read Brooke Broadbent’s article on Herb Cain on NewmarketToday not long ago.

While I am sure I may have missed a team or a player who deserved to be mentioned in the service of brevity, I urge you to add your comments to this article and give light to their contributions as you see fit.

Newmarket was always a hockey town and its hockey heritage is far too vast for one article, but I have tried my best.  I do hope that I have touched on some of your memories and prompted you to learn more.  

Sources: Newmarket’s Centennial Book 1857 – 1957 by Jack Luck; Newmarket Old Boy’s Reunion Souvenir Booklet June 29, 30 July 1, 2 1939; The CHL and OHL Official Websites; Newmarket Era Articles; Oral History Interviews by Richard MacLeod; Newmarket’s Who’s Who from the Internet


Newmarket resident Richard MacLeod — the History Hound — has been a local historian for more than 40 years. He writes a weekly feature about our town's history in partnership with Newmarket Today, conducts heritage lectures and walking tours of local interest, and leads local oral history interviews.





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About the Author: Richard MacLeod

Newmarket resident Richard MacLeod — the History Hound — has been a local historian for more than 40 years
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