History Of The New Brunswick Amateur Hockey Association
(Hockey New Brunswick)
By Harold L. Post
The date of the first organized hockey game played in New Brunswick seems unclear but appears to go back to the late 1890's. The first organization actually dealing with the administration and development of hockey in this province occurred when Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick jointly formed the Maritime Amateur Hockey Association (MAHA) and formally was admitted to the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) in 1928. This arrangement, although somewhat shaky at times, lasted forty years.
As the membership in New Brunswick continued to grow, it became clear that it would be in our best interest to break away from the Maritime Amateur Hockey Association and do it alone. In 1953, H. O. Schryer of Bathurst unsuccessfully suggested a New Brunswick branch of the National Association. It was not until several years later in 1966 that Len Poore of Fredericton and Maurice Harquail of Campbellton went to the CAHA Annual General Meeting in Montreal and made a presentation in another attempt to have New Brunswick recognized as a separate branch. It was agreed by the CAHA to have the New Brunswick branch go one year on its own, then seek approval in 1967.
The wheels were set in motion and in May of 1967, Moncton's Vance Toner, Vice-President of the MAHA, called a meeting for interested hockey people that was held in Memramcook. Two further meetings were held in St. Andrews and Lancaster to continue the development of a New Brunswick branch.
As a result of this thrust, at the annual meeting of the Maritime Amateur Hockey Association, New Brunswick was given the blessing of the MAHA to apply to the CAHA for formal recognition as a separate branch. Therefore, in 1968 the New Brunswick Amateur Hockey Association (NBAHA) was formed and at the national meeting held in Windsor, Ontario was officially admitted to the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association as a full member with all rights and privileges.
Charter members of the NBAHA were:
E. R. (Ned) Fowler (Moncton)
James MacLaggan (Bathurst)
Don Garey (Saint John)
John Vey (Fredericton)
Bruce Smith (Woodstock)
Len C. Poore (Fredericton)
E. R. Fowler served as President from 1968 to 1971. During these beginning years, Len Poore became the first full time Secretary-Registrar of the organization.
In 1971, Jim MacLaggan of Bathurst was elected as President. In 1972 the Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association was hosted by the NBAHA at the Admiral Beatty Hotel in Saint John. In 1975 Bill Gillen was hired as the Secretary-Registrar and an office was established in the city of Fredericton.
J. Claude MacKinnon of Saint John became President in 1976 and held the position until 1981. Pierre Turmel came from the national office in 1976 to hold the full time position of Commissioner and in 1979 he relinquished that position to Ross Keenan. It was during this time that a much better working relationship between the hockey officials and the NBAHA was established.
In the first years of the newly formed NBAHA there was often much internal controversy as the day-to-day operations, who was making decisions, etc. As a result, the New Brunswick government initiated a study into the delivery of hockey administration throughout the province. The committee, chaired by Vance Toner, published its report in 1976. The rational for the existence of the NBAHA and many areas of hockey administration that required improvements were identified but the report fell short of suggesting alternate ways of providing a better administration structure.
In 1981, Robert Rae of Dalhousie was elected President, a position he held until 1984. During Mr. Rae's term of office a follow-up to the 1976 Hockey Study was completed. This Hockey Review, again chaired by Vance Toner, provided a new structure by which hockey administration could be delivered by the NBAHA.
The Hockey Review was presented and accepted at the NBAHA General Meeting held in Fredericton in 1984. This new structure clearly separated the policy making and day-to-day operations of the volunteer boards within the organization. The NBAHA has been governed by this structure since 1985 and with only slight modifications it has proven successful.
In 1984, Joe Flynn of Bathurst became the first Chairman of the Board under the new structure and Ross Keenan became the full time President. In 1986, the NBAHA increased the office staff to two with the hiring of Gilles Picard of Edmundston as Executive Assistant. In 1987, Gilles Picard was appointed President of the Association, succeeding Mr. Keenan.
In the Fall of 1987, a most significant meeting between the NBAHA and New Brunswick High School Hockey was held in Chatham. As a result of this meeting, led by NBAHA Chairman Joe Flynn and High School Hockey President Bob Deap, a working agreement was reached. Subsequently, in 1988 at the Annual General Meeting of the NBAHA, High School Hockey became an official partner within the organization. This relationship has proved to be very successful and the NBAHA is still the only branch within the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association as a full member of its association.
In 1988, Harold Post of Petit-Rocher was elected Chairman of the Board and held the position for four years. At this time the NBAHA Board of Directors made a firm commitment to improve hockey administration beginning with the provincial office. Major fund raising programs were implemented and several corporate sponsors were secured for the organization. These initiatives, coupled with continued financial responsibility, resulted in the Association being able to improve its office location and facilities including being the first Atlantic branch to computerize its operations.
In that same year Robert White was hired as President and Mrs. Pat MacFadzen as Administrative Officer. Scott Smith joined the NBAHA as Technical Director in 1989. In 1990 with the resignation of Mr. White, the position of President was changed to Executive director and was accepted by Scott Smith. In 1991 Gerry Goguen was hired as the Operations Officer.
In May of 1992, the NBAHA once again hosted the CAHA Annual General Meeting in Saint John. This meeting was very special in that it was the 75th AGM and recorded the largest number of delegates that ever attended a national meeting.
At the NBAHA Annual General Meeting in June of 1992, the position of Chairman of the Board was changed to President. This position has been held by Doug Steeves (1992 - 2000), Howie Peters (2000-2002) and currently Tom Donovan (2002 - ).
At the NBAHA’s 2002 Annual General Meeting, the organization changed its reference name to Hockey New Brunswick; bringing the organization name in line with other provincial sport bodies. In June, 2003 the Board of Directors voted to undertake a feasibility study to look at the structure of Hockey New Brunswick under the Vance Toner Report of 1967. Committees were formed to examine council structure, membership predictions and the financial position. The study will be presented at the 2005 annual general meeting.
Certainly, the NBAHA has advanced a long way in the past 36 years. With continued strong leadership and dedicated volunteers, the organization will continue to improve in its effort to provide hockey opportunity to the citizens of New Brunswick.