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The Working Class In Winter
Bonnie Durtnall
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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
  • Gilson’s
  • Lancashire Felt
  • Page-Hersey
  • Raymond Sewing Machine Co
  •  Taylor-Forbes

This was in addition to teams formed according to occupation:

  • Bankers
  • Hackmen
  • Hotel employees
  • Moulders

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.

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No Relief From Relief: The Great Depression In Guelph

During the last few years of the 1920s, Guelphites were beginning to feel quite optimistic. After the post-war slump, the economy was turning around. Companies were hiring and workers were regaining much of what they had lost. Then, on October 29, 1929, came the crash plunging employers and employees alike into a new economic reality.

One year later, 400,000 Canadians were out of work. Wages were cut and those employed had to live on less pay. Businesses retrenched and the labour movement was brought to a temporary standstill. All levels of Government, attempted to curtail the downward spiral. They instituted various Relief Programs, including Relief Camps, Relief Settlements, Relief Gangs and Relief distribution. Truly, during the 1930s, there was no relief from Relief.

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