The Ontario Hockey Association, which began operation on November 27th, 1890 was the first Amateur hockey organization. Soon more began to surface around Canada and soon it became clear that there was a need for a nation-wide governing body dedicated to the development and administration of Amateur hockey in Canada.

A meeting was set for December 14th, 1914, and fittingly, it took place in the nation’s capital, Ottawa, Ontario. The Canadian Amateur Hockey Association was formed and a constitution and bylaws were drawn up. Six branches comprised this new organization with representation from Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. Over the years, other provincial Amateur hockey associations formed and subsequently joined the CAHA.

All international tournaments, including the World Championships and, of course, the Olympic games, were only for Amateurs. The CAHA had the responsibility of selecting a team to represent Canada that in the early years was the top Amateur club team. This was done instead of assembling a team comprising players from many different teams. This would change in the early sixties.

Father David Bauer played a key role in the birth of Canada’s National team. Bauer, whose brother Bobby was a Hall of Fame winger for the Boston Bruins, had a successful career as a young man but chose the cloth over the ice and joined the staff of St. Michael’s College. Serving as their hockey coach, Bauer led the St. Michael’s Junior "A" team to the Memorial Cup championship in 1961. Unfortunately, the school discontinued its hockey program the next year. Seeking a new challenge, Father Bauer approached the CAHA about assembling a national team to represent Canada instead of the Allan Cup champs. The CAHA granted Father Bauer permission to pursue his plan for a national team and, in 1964, the Canadian national hockey team represented the country for the first time in the Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. Bauer’s team just narrowly missed a bronze medal. However, the national team won bronze medals in the 1966 and 1967 World Championships as well as the 1968 Olympic Winter Games. In 1969, the national team experiment would end but it would return in 1980 with Bauer as part of the executive.

After winning the 1968 federal election, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau delivered on his election promise of a Task Force on Sports to examine how to improve Amateur hockey in Canada. The conclusion was that a single organization should be formed to oversee all levels of hockey in Canada, encompassing the CAHA, the CIAU (university hockey), Fitness and Amateur Sport, and Canada’s two NHL franchises, the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. This new organization was called Hockey Canada.

Eventually, to be most effective, an amalgamation of Canada’s hockey operations took place. In July of 1994, the CAHA and Hockey Canada merged to form the Canadian Hockey Association, commonly referred to as Canadian Hockey. With 4.5 million Canadians involved in Amateur hockey as coaches, officials, players, administrators and volunteers, it was in the best interest of all to have a sole governing body overseeing the entire operation. The responsibilities of Canadian Hockey range from rules and legislation for kids playing on their first organized team, all the way up to players pulling on a team Canada jersey and representing their country at the Olympic games.

Across Canada minor hockey is a major operation. Thirteen branch associations of the CHA operate leagues indoors and out across the country. With 508,000 players enrolled in CHA hockey programs in 1998-99, playing one and a half million games, Amateur hockey continues to boom in Canada. Youngsters, once enrolled, work their way up through several divisions, broken down by age groups.

The CHA organizes several annual tournaments, ranging from the Pee-Wee level up to Senior for men and for women, to determine the best of the best. Bantam and Pee-Wee age groups hold provincial and regional championships. National championships begin with the Midget age group.

Canadian Hockey hosts tournaments at the regional, provincial and national levels. The trophies being battled for range from the historic Allan Cup to the more recently minted Royal Bank Cup. Additionally, Canada has a thriving junior hockey league that spans from coast to coast. The Junior hockey system in Canada is well defined and highly regarded for its excellence at all levels. Players may play in junior as early as age 14 and as old as 21, defined as an "overage." Junior classified leagues consist of the Canadian Hockey League.


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