The History of Hockey in Kamloops

In 1894, Alexander McLean, flooded a rough area of land on the bank of the Thompson River, it was used by hockey players and pleasure skaters alike.

The first built-in skating rink, with surrounding boards, was built on the site of the present day Riverside Park in 1899 by local boat builder Earnest Fletcher. Hockey sticks were a frequent sale item in Kamloops with prices ranging from 25 cents to 90 cents each.

After World War 1, the Kamloops Hockey Club joined forces with the Junior Brotherhood and the Skating Club to operate an ice rink and organized a Junior and Senior league.

In 1926, the first indoor hockey arena for Kamloops was built. The new arena boasted dressing rooms, a heating system and a much appreciated hot dog and snack counter. Space and scheduling had to be juggled around the annual fall fair, the bull sale, lacrosse and other community groups.

After 1940, the arena was completely shut down after it was declared unsafe for public use. The outdoor rink was put back into use with a new clubhouse, boards, improved lighting and better facilities for spectators.

On February 17, 1945, the Kamloops and District Memorial Recreational Centre Society was formed with over a dozen community and service clubs involved to raise funds and oversee the building of an indoor ice arena to be made as civic memorial to those people from the district that fought in the wars. On May 24 and 25, 1949 the arena opened with a parade, baseball tournament, professional wrestling, a carnival, two dances and raffle for automobiles. The new arena was officially dedicated as Memorial Arena on Remembrance Day, November 11, 1949.

In 1945, the Kamloops Minor Hockey League was started and ten years later our Kamloops team won the BC title and the Cromie Memorial Trophy. In 1959, the Kamloops Bantams won the interior title and in 1968, they held their first international tournament known as KIBIHT. Kamloops was overwhelmed with 108 applications with 32 teams being selected from Europe, USA and Canada.

As registration in Minor Hockey grew, a Parents Auxiliary to Kamloops Minor Hockey was formed in 1962. Their purpose was to raise funds from the arena concession to keep costs down. More ice was needed which increased registration costs and in 1966 the McArthur Island Sport Center was built.

1968 marked another important development in local hockey history as being the year that Joe Tennant came to Kamloops and began coaching the Junior (A÷ Kamloops Rockets. In 1971, Tennant led the Rockets to the Top of the BC Junior (A÷ Championships. Ten years later, coaching the Merritt Centennials, he won his second Junior (A÷ title. After that Tennant coached Kamloops Midget hockey for two years, going to consecutive BC Championships.

In the 1979-80 hockey season the Knights of Columbus Pee Wee Rep hockey team went to a tournament in Prince George and performed a feat that got them published into the Guinness Book of World Records. The boys scored 7 goals in 2 minutes and 22 seconds. They also gained provincial recognition by winning the BC Pee Wee title.

By the time the 80's hit, the Kamloops Minor Hockey Association was well experienced with a sizable executive as well as directors for each minor hockey division. The newest division was the female hockey league. In the 1980's Kamloops was named the Tournament Capital of British Columbia (now the Tournament Capital of Canada) and hockey, along with all other sports, will always live up to that title.

Kamloops Minor Hockey was named Association of the year for 1982/83 and 2004/05 by the BCAHA. We now have over 1300 registered players and host 25 tournaments per season.

This Article includes information taken from the Kamloops Museum Archives and Linda Groenesteyn (1990 Parents Auxiliary to KMHA Historian).

Kamloops Minor Hockey - Archive Site Link