The Green Cup

June 9th, 2023 10 Minutes

Dr. F.W. Green – Image courtesy of the Columbia Basin Institute of Regional History

Dr. Frank William Green

In 1898, at twenty-two years of age, Frank William Green graduated from McGill University in Montreal with an M.D. degree. 

Returning to his family home in Victoria, B.C., he soon accepted an appointment of $100 per month from the Canadian Pacific Railway to serve as a doctor on the construction of the Crow’s Nest Branch through East Kootenay, patrolling the construction camps between Kuskanook and Moyie. He never left the area, practicing medicine for thirty-two years in Cranbrook.

Dr. Green provided medical care to Cranbrook and district during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. In one day at the St. Eugene hospital, eight patients died, while others succumbed at home. He was a busy doctor. F.W. Green was also an involved member of his community, lending his support to various causes. He was Convenor of Extension Work for the Canadian Medical Association (1926), Honourary President of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 24, the Great War Veterans’ Association (1918), Honourary President of the Cranbrook Curling Club (1931) and Honourary President of the Cranbrook Amateur Athletic Association. He joined the Medical Corps during World War I, serving as a Captain and twice travelling across the continent performing medical examinations on recruits while aboard the train. Dr. F.W. Green also served as Medical Health Officer for Cranbrook.

One of the activities we hear little about today is Dr. Green’s donation and sponsorship of the Green Cup hockey competition. High school hockey became a dominant winter sport in the 1920s, with many different leagues and some inter-city rivalry. Towards the end of the 1927 hockey season, Dr. Green put up a cup which became known as the ‘Green Cup’, for an annual competition between the high school hockey teams of East Kootenay. It was soon followed by the ‘Wilson Cup’ in 1928, emblematic of the ladies’ hockey championship of East Kootenay.


The Green Cup

Dr. F.W. Green – the impetus of the Green Cup – Image courtesy of the Columbia Basin Institute of Regional History


     The 1921 Cranbrook High School ‘Viewpoint’ celebrated cold weather and ice formation. “It is hoped that the high school will enter a team if a hockey league is formed. Rumour has it that the Cranbrook girls will play hockey this season, so watch for the fun and be on hand to see the games they play, for they are sure to be interesting.”

In 1923 the ‘Viewpoint’ stated, “… the tennis court is being changed over into a skating rink, for the High school pupils. The net, tapes and posts have been removed and stored for the winter. Although the court is small, it will be large enough to skate upon and provide some hockey practice opportunities. There are enough boys in the school to develop a fast school team. 

Girls’ hockey is also becoming more popular each year, and our girls should be heard from this winter. By the way, don’t be a piker when it comes to your turn to flood the rink. If you skate, get out and keep your rink in good condition. Is it YOUR rink? “You” means EVERYBODY. Remember that, and we can have a good winter’s sport.”

The research clarifies that ice access is everything in the Green Cup series. Fernie and Kimberley have higher altitudes and colder winter temperatures than Cranbrook and therefore have more ice time. Both localities dominated the larger Cranbrook, winning most of the Green Cup yearly series. The Selkirk intermediate hockey league playoffs were suspended in 1924 when ice was lost at the beginning of February, leaving only a month of ice that year. 

Hockey was popular but always tenacious.

The Cranbrook High School hockey team competed in the 3-team City League in 1924. But in 1925, high school players broke away to play for private teams, so no high school team was entered. The 1925 ‘Viewpoint’ does say: “If the High School had stayed together, they would have had an almost unbeatable organization. A high school league has been formed consisting of three teams with Beech, Johnson and Horie as Captains. The Arena rink has been obtained for high school practice from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoons.”  

Ice time was a consistent problem for younger players. 

At this time, Kimberley, Fernie and Michel-Natal began to play against each other for the title of East Kootenay High School Hockey Champion, with Cranbrook soon joining in. In 1926 Cranbrook, Fernie, Kimberley, and Lumberton girls’ hockey teams started to compete for the Girls’ East Kootenay Hockey Championship. The Cranbrook’ Rosebuds’ were the first winner of the Wilson Cup in 1928.

 The 1927 ‘Viewpoint’ says the Cranbrook High School hockey team challenged Fernie for the Green Cup but was refused. “Kimberley, however, accepted a challenge, and on February 12, the boys went to Kimberley to play, where they won quite easily, the score being 7-3.”

In 1928 the C.H.S girls were all the talk. They won the Wilson Cup by practicing at every opportunity, even early in the mornings before school, when they could more easily get ice time. “In a two-game series with the ‘Pontiacs,’ the women’s city team, the C.H.S.’ Rosebuds’ played to a scoreless tie in the first game and then posted a 2-0 victory in the second. The ‘Viewpoint’ declared that each of the games drew record crowds. The C.H.S. boys again won the Green Cup, defending against Fernie and winning with total goals over a two-game series. Fernie got its revenge in 1929 by winning both games and the Green Cup.

On February 11, 1943, The Kimberley News trumpeted that the Kimberley High School hockey team retained the Green Cup. “On Saturday night, the Fernie High School hockey team journeyed to Kimberley to play for the Green Cup, which owns the latter. The Green Cup is a much-sought-for trophy and has, for the past few years, been played for by East Kootenay high school teams. Kimberley, however, retained the cup by beating the Fernie club by a score of 6 to 4.”


The Wilson Cup

The Rossland Ladies Hockey Team c. 1906 were some of the earliest enthusiasts for women’s hockey – Image courtesy of the Columbia Basin Institute of Regional History


In the 1923-24 season, Cranbrook girls began to make their hockey needs known. The schedule for hockey practices started with securing ice in January of 1924, allocated three times a week for Ladies’ Hockey Practice – Monday 7 to 8 p.m.; Thursday 7 to 7:30 p.m. and; Saturday 2 to 3 p.m. They were recognized as a competing force in a very tight schedule of ice allocation. The same was true in 1925, with the Bluebirds holding a dance on November 20 to raise funds for the coming season. And on the 10th, the Cranbrook Ladies Hockey League met at the Cranbrook Hotel to push forward their need for ice time when that became available.

Kimberley began to form a women’s hockey team in 1924.

In 1925 Kimberley organized women’s hockey, and rinks sprung up, with Chapman Camp joining the fray. The Kimberley Press of January 1, 1926, announced that “the skating rink has come into its own at last. Well-lighted with strings of electric bulbs, the young people are getting all kinds of kick out of the ice every night.”

The Cranbrook Herald of February 11, 1926, announced, “The ladies’ hockey trophy, which Dr. Green kindly donated for competition between the ladies’ hockey teams, was on display this week in the window of Mr. A. Raworth. The trophy is most attractive and will doubtless cause much rivalry between the various clubs for some time to come.” What a true statement that proved to be! In the first series, the Bluebirds and Canucks, both Cranbrook teams, played off in a 3-game series. The Bluebirds won two points to nothing, securing the Green Cup (Wilson Cup) even though the newspaper initially awarded the series and cup to the Canucks. “It was with fear and trembling, therefore, that the hockey girls were met the day following the appearance of last week’s paper, though they took very kindly to the apologies…” (Cranbrook Herald, February 25, 1926)

Two features that follow East Kootenay women’s hockey through time are the cleanliness of play and the loyal fan support.

When Cranbrook played the Fernie Swastikas, they filled the arena with about five hundred fans. Even in local league play, the fans supported their teams energetically. One of the reasons for the loyalty is laid out in the 1926 Cranbrook Herald: “A pleasing feature of the girls’ game was that though there were several occasions in which one or the other of the players might have ‘got sore,’ they played the game fairly all through. While most fans have their favourite team, few would not rather see them lose, just as long as they play the game fairly. The ladies are certainly to be congratulated on the exhibition which both of their teams put up (Bluebirds and Canucks).

The Rinks

Rossland, B.C. Rink, the largest skating and curling rink under cover west of Winnipeg in 1907 – Image courtesy of the Columbia Basin Institute of Regional History and the Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre.

Hockey was a pervasive winter sport. The ponds and rivers froze, and East Kootenay played hockey. If you were young in Invermere or Wilmer, you were on the lake and river as soon as freeze-up occurred. Fort Steele had its pickup games on the Kootenay River below town. In Fernie, Kimberley and Cranbrook, every pond and slough was utilized until the rinks started to be built.

Kimberley had outdoor rinks at Top Mine, Central School and Chapman Camp in 1923. In the early 1920s, a rink was built in Townsite, followed by another outdoor rink near Coronation Park in 1927. Marysville and Wycliffe both had outdoor rinks, with Wycliffe’s turned into a producing potato patch every spring. The Wycliffe Notes (Cranbrook Herald, February 25, 1926) points out the problem of warm winters: “The Wycliffe boys journeyed to Kimberley last Wednesday to play their return hockey game with the Kimberley boys, and after a one-sided game, Kimberley won out by twelve goals to two. Owing to the Wycliffe rink being in such poor shape, the Wycliffe boys had been unable to turn out for practice for some considerable time, hence the above result.” Fernie and West Fernie had rinks, as did Coal Creek and Michel-Natal. Cranbrook had outdoor rinks in the early 1900; the one in what is now Rotary Park was closed in and operated by the Cranbrook Amateur Athletic Association. The city got artificial ice when it was installed in the Cranbrook Memorial Arena in 1954.

Hockey came with winter, and virtually everybody played, boys and girls, men and women. It was the Canadian winter pastime. Supporters everywhere turned out in the hundreds to watch the challenge games and build the inter-city rivalries. It is easy to see how elevation became a factor in producing winning hockey teams.
For instance, Fernie, Kimberley and Rossland consistently had strong winning teams because they got ice early and used it to practice and build community support. That is the main reason that Banff became the centre of Canadian world ice hockey in the 1920s – it had the ice early and kept it late.

In 1930 Kimberley erected their first indoor arena installing artificial ice in 1947. This building was the centre of Kimberley’s Dynamiter core until it was condemned in 1957. The present Kimberley Memorial Civic Centre arena was opened in 1961.
In Fernie, the first arena was built around 1900, and soon the Crow’s Nest Hockey Association was organized with teams from Picher Creek, Cranbrook, Moyie and Fernie, all competing for the Liphardt Cup.

This rink was demolished in the 1908 fire, but a new rink was ready on the riverbank across from West Fernie by 1909.
An artificial ice arena was completed in Fernie in 1952 and was home to the ‘Rangers.’ They were part of the intermediate A.B.C.M. league, with teams from Great Falls, Michel-Natal, Cranbrook, Coleman and Kimberley. In 1959 Fernie again lost its rink to fire, but the community immediately responded with a new cement block building opening in 1960.

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