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by Chris McCleary


Cambridge, ON – it all started on a cold and snowy night on November 27, 1890, at the Queen’s Hotel in Toronto. This was the idea of Arthur Stanley, son of Lord Stanley, then Governor General of Canada. Stanley played for the Ottawa Rideau Hall Rebels and, during exhibition play against other teams in Ontario, convinced team officials to hold a meeting to discuss the idea. The purpose of the meeting was to start an organization that would govern amateur ice hockey play in Ontario. Out of that meeting came the formation of the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA).

In the beginning, the OHA had one league of senior men’s hockey teams. This group included teams from Ottawa, Kingston, Toronto, and London.  In 1892, the junior-level was introduced for play at a lower level. It was not age-limited to young men under 20 until 1896 when the OHA introduced the intermediate-level play bracket. In 1919, the Memorial Cup was introduced, first called the ‘OHA Memorial Cup’, and was first won by University of Toronto Schools (UTS). It became the national championship trophy for junior-level play.

From 1893-1908, teams from the OHA could and did challenge for the Stanley Cup, including:

As senior-level play became professional, Stanley Cup challenges by the amateur clubs ceased, having been banned from play against professionals. After the introduction of the Allan Cup in 1908, clubs from the OHA would compete for that instead.

Throughout the early part of the 20th Century all the way up until the 1960s, no person had more of an impact on the growth and prosperity of the OHA then W. A. Hewitt. He was secretary of the OHA from 1903 to 1966, as well as sports editor of the Toronto Daily Star from 1900 to 1931.

W.A. HEWITT c.1904

His impact was not limited to just the OHA. He served as the financial manager for the Canada men’s national ice hockey team which won Olympic gold medals in 1920, 1924, and 1928; while sending reports on the Olympic Games to Canadian newspapers. He introduced the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) rules of play to the Ligue Internationale de Hockey sur Glace (International Ice Hockey Federation) in 1920 and refereed the first game played in the history of ice hockey at the Olympic Games. He also served on several committees for the Amateur Athletic Union of Canada, and including chairman of the registration committee which oversaw the reinstatement of professionals as amateurs.

Not only was he one of the founding architects of amateur hockey, he is also the father of fellow Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Foster Hewitt; who many consider to be one of the greatest play-by-play voices in hockey history.

As the 20th Century came to a close the framework of Junior hockey began to take hold. By 2010 the landscape of Junior hockey had solidified with three distinct divisions – Junior A (OJHL), Junior B (GOJHL), and Junior C (PJHL). A large part of this structuring was the concept of ‘leagues running leagues.’

2017 RBC Cup (National) Champion Cobourg Cougars

Comprised of 5 leagues (OJHL, GOJHL, PJHL, ACH, OEHL) and125 teams, as it turns 133 years-old, the OHA is thriving. But it’s more than this, it’s the effect the OHA has on its communities that really creates the impact. Having good role models in your backyard, giving back to the flock that raised you, and by providing games/events that become a melting pot for the community at large go a long way at solidifying local societies. ‘Growing communities through hockey’ has always been and will always be paramount to the Ontario Hockey Association.

About the Ontario Hockey Association

The Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) was founded on November 27, 1890, and is the governing body for the majority of Junior and Senior hockey in the Province of Ontario.  The OHA is a Member Partner of the Ontario Hockey Federation which is one of thirteen Provincial and Regional Branches of Hockey Canada. 

It is comprised of three Junior hockey leagues and two Senior hockey leagues: Junior A – Ontario Junior Hockey League; Junior B – Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League; Junior C – Provincial Junior Hockey League, Senior  – Allan Cup Hockey (AAA)and Ontario Elite Hockey League (AA). For the 2023-24 season, these five leagues encompass 123 teams.

The objectives of the OHA are to foster and encourage the sport of amateur hockey, to conduct competition in the various categories established, to determine teams for entry into the inter-branch competitions that may be provided by Hockey Canada, and to provide for the affiliation of other hockey organizations.

The OHA provides administrative resources, coordinates programs, services and events for hockey participants and provides support to various Development Programs for coaches, officials, trainers and players, Safety and Risk Management Issues and offers resources for Harassment and Abuse education.


For more information or to set up an interview, please contact:

Chris McCleary

General Manager, Operations & Marketing                  

Ontario Hockey Association                            

[email protected]  

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