In 1883, the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (MAAA) and McGill University were both asked to participate in the Montreal Winter Carnival by organizing for the first time ever an ice hockey tournament. The MAAA did not field a team, but McGill University fielded its own team, and two more teams were invited to play in a three-team tournament. They played outdoors on the Saint Lawrence River.
The first Montreal Winter Carnival Hockey Tournament (MWCHT) was held from January 26 to January 27. The Montreal Victorias, McGill University, and Quebec Hockey Club contested for a Tournament trophy called the Carnival Cup. McGill University was the winner of the challenge Tournament. This first MWC Tournament was a very modest affair, lasting only two days with each of the three teams playing one single game, but it became the beginning of the hockey league lineage that stretches to the modern day!
FanSeeStats classifies the MWCHT as a Proto-League as some of its clubs attracted the best players of their time and went on to organize an Elite League, the predecessor of the Major Leagues we have today.
The MWCHT would play almost every year starting in 1883 until 1889 when its member teams decided it was better to focus play on the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada (AHAC) which it created in 1887.
Individual seasons are not tracked on Major-Leauges.com for Proto-Leagues as the integrity of each season is questionable with fluid team membership and haphazard scheduling. To see individual tracked seasons go to IceHockeyLeagues.com.
|Year||Montreal Winter Carnival Hockey Tournament Location||Champion||# of Teams|
|1883||St. Lawrence River||McGill University||3|
|1884||McGill University’s Rink||Montreal Victorias||5|
|1885||Montreal Crystals’ Rink||Montreal Hockey Club||5|
|1886||Cancelled due to smallpox epidemic*||Montreal Hockey Club||3|
|1887||Various Rinks||Montreal Hockey Club||4|
|1888||Cancelled due to AHAC||none||nil|
|1889||Montreal Victorias’ Rink||Montreal Victorias||4|
* Tournament played in Vermont, USA.
League Championship Summary
# of seasons: 6
List of teams who won championships sorted by number of championships.
|Team||# of League Championships|
|Montreal Hockey Club||3 (1885-1887)|
|Montreal Victorias||2 (1884, 1889)|
|McGill University||1 (1883)|
League Dissolution & Legacy
The Montreal Winter Carnival Hockey Tournament (MWCHT) would see Canada’s (and the World’s) elite Hockey talent play for supremacy between 1883 and 1889. The MWCHT was the first ever organized Hockey tournament that lead to the creation of the first Hockey league, making the MWCHT the direct predecessor to the AHAC for historical and statistical purposes.
The MWCHT helped establish Hockey through the following important events:
- First organized inter-city Hockey competition, establishing Montreal as the premier Hockey city in 1883.
- First international Hockey tournament when the Tournament was moved to Vermont, USA for one year in 1886.
- The top Tournament teams went on to form the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada, the first ice hockey league in 1887.