Black Ice – Negro Hockey (CHL)

The Lost History of the Colored Hockey League of the Martimes, 1895-1925

Black Ice header
Black Ice

Comprised of the sons and grandsons of runaway American slaves, the league helped pioneer the sport of ice hockey changing this winter game from the primitive “gentleman’s past-time” of the nineteenth century to the modern fast moving game of today. In an era when many believed blacks could not endure cold, possessed ankles too weak to effectively skate, and lacked the intelligence for organized sport, these men defied the defined myths.


Black Ice - Book Cover
Black Ice

Bristol, Connecticut.ESPN SPORTSCENTER will be running a 7-minute documentary feature on the book Black Ice and the history of the Colored Hockey League this Sunday beginning around 12 Noon. Last month, Sonahhr historians and Executive Board Members Darril Fosty, George Fosty, Drakeford Levi, Wayne Adams and Craig Smith were interviewed for the feature. Darril Fosty also served as the historical consultant for ESPN during the Nova Scotia stage of the production.

Setting the Ice Hockey Historical Record Straight

Our knowledge of the roots of Canadian hockey has been based almost solely on the historical records maintained by early White historians. Because of this, the misconception that hockey is a White man’s invention has persisted. We know today, such an assumption could not be further from historical fact. The roots of early Canadian hockey originate with the North American Indians. The roots of modern Canadian hockey originate, in large part, from the influence of an even more surprising source, that of early African-Canadian hockey. For it was Black hockey players in the later half of the nineteenth century whose style of play and innovations helped shape the sport, effectively changing the game of hockey forever. Page 12.

The First Black Ice Hockey Players – 1820 to 1870

With certainty, we can only date Black hockey to the early 1870’s, yet we know that hockey and Black history in
Nova Scotia have parallel roots, going back almost 100 years. Among the first reports of hockey being played occur in 1815 along the isolated Northwest Arm, south of Halifax. The date is important for the simple fact that as late as October 1815 the region was not home to a large White settlement but was instead the site of a small Black enclave. Four Black families originally from the Chesapeake Bay area, with a total of fifteen children, had relocated and settled on the Arm. It is reported that these families, Couney, Williams, Munro and Leale, received adequate food, lodging and employment implying that their children were healthy and would have been able to play hockey during the winter months when the Arm was frozen and suitable for skating. Were these children among the first Canadians to play the game of hockey? We do not know. All we can say is that the coincidence between the date of the Northwest Arm’s Black settlement and the first records of hockey being played in the area are worthy of reflection. Page 12-13.

The Stanley Cup -1893

During the nineteenth century, it had been the English who had introduced the concept of competitive sports to much of the world. In an age of the Victorians and Victorian ideals, sports were regarded as models of teamwork and fair play. Many believed that sports could raise the lower classes and non-White races to a higher level of civilization and social development. All was well, the theory held as long as White men continued to win at whatever sport they played. Hockey was no different. By recognizing Canadian hockey Stanley had accomplished something more. He has given the game “royal acceptance” removing its status as a game of the lowly masses and creating a tiered sport based on club elitism and commercialism. It is no secret that the Stanley Cup was only to be competed for by select teams within
Canada. At the time of its presentation, it was a symbol for self-promotion all the while serving a “supposed need”. In time, those who controlled the Challenge Cup controlled hockey, effectively creating a “bourgeoisie” sport. A sport that now, by its very nature, would exclude and fail to recognize Black contributions. Page 14.

The Birth Of All-Black Hockey Teams -1895

The first recorded mention of all-Black hockey teams appears in 1895. Games between Black club teams were arranged by formal invitation. By 1900, The Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes had been created, headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Despite hardships and prejudice, the league would exist until the mid-1920s. Historically speaking, The Colored Hockey League was like no other hockey or sports league before or since. Primarily located in a province, reputed to be the birthplace of Canadian hockey, the league would in time produce a quality of player and athlete that would rival the best of White Canada. Such was the skill of the teams that they would be seen by as worthy candidates for local representation in the annual national quest for Canadian hockey’s ultimate prize – the Stanley Cup. Page 15.

Black Hockey Leadership -1895

They were more than educated Blacks, in fact they were the first generation of Black men who refused to answer the ageless question: “Whose Negro Are You?” The first of their race to demand what was rightfully theirs; the first generation to refuse to stand at the back of a line. Page 55.

On The Destruction Of The Colored Hockey League — 1912

Were the Blacks sending a message to area Whites? Was this “an eye for an eye,” a payback for Williams’ death and other past events? In order for four White-owned buildings to go up in flames almost simultaneously, it would require an orchestrated group effort. It would require a group of people working in tandem with one goal. If it were the work of Blacks it would have been an effort organized either on Gottingen Street or out in Africville. If indeed this was payback, then who better to accomplish this task than members of the Colored League — men who had had their league destroyed, lands stolen, and business enterprises crushed at the hands of Whites. On January 12, 1912 someone had sent the White Elite of Halifax a message. The message was simple: “Burn Us — We Burn You!” Page 132.

NottHead Comments:


“Those that do not know their history are destine to repeat it.” Those that rely on others to tell their story will most likely be forgotten! Negro slaves adapted to every environment and community, engaged in activities closely associated with the church and desperately sought to be treated as equals; for their descendants the struggle continues.

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38 thoughts on “Black Ice – Negro Hockey (CHL)

  1. This is some excellent information. My husband told me about the Colored Hockey League. I did not beleive at first due I was being close minded and said black folks don’t do water or winter sports. Thank you for making this available. If you have any materials that I would be able to give my students in class please let me know. Thank you for teaching me something new.

  2. Just wanted to say that if it wasn’t for me playing four sports growing up in Wisocnsin plus golf I would have played hockey. I watcjed hockey every night no joke, but the costs were too high.

    when the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks came to town one of their players was Robert Haddock. He along with Chris Nelson and Shawn wheeler were the only minor leace black hockey players playing then. I had the pleasure of doing a story on them, hanging out drinking, and shooting them during theirs games. I have a shot that I am going to send to Halifax with Haddock and Wheeler jockying for position during a face off.

    1. hello, I am writing a book about the greatest athletes from my hometown, Mount Vernon, NY. That is where Shawn Wheeler was born. I would like to interview him. If you have any way to reach him please let me know. My email address is Thanks, Bruce Fabricant

      1. No idea where Wheeler is now. But I grew up in Stevens Point watching him play hockey. He was fantastic to watch. All time leader in penalty minutes for the Pointers.

    1. Please don’t forget about Grant Fuhr, born in Alberta in 1962. Played from 1979 to 2000…..Won 5 Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers…

  3. Thank you for your this important information. I feel really sorry for my sport I LOVE SO MUCH that it has taken so long for this ground breaking information to come out. I was introduce to hockey in a ice area where all the kids were black and all we knew was Willie O’Ree and Grant Fuhr as our role modles. As a current Black Jr. A head coach, ex college and pro player I want to share this information with everyone in the hockey community! Once again EXCELLENT JOB guys!!!

  4. I am glad that someone has put a little light on this rumor. Does anyone know what the jerseys or logos looked like. I am starting a business consisting of all Negro/Black professional league uniforms/paraphenalia. Baseball, basketball and now hockey! Thank you

  5. Thankyou for the uplifting article on the struggles of black hockey players. Their persistance of greatness in the face of evil is a testament of the human spirit.


  6. As a Black man from Rhode Island and living through those painful years of “Montreal Ruin a Bruin on cup day parade” …I’ve not only admired my early Boston “Cheever’s” Badboys and there never ending big game loses to those Canadians from Montreal. But I also for years and even to this day had been laughed at for my love of this game by other brothers, before even knowing this Historic and proud to say additive of what I still call an enjoyable sport to watch…in a cool way now
    but as a BIG TIME New York Ranger Fan…

    The Buck won’t stop here…

  7. Another hidden jeweled unearthed. Black Ice will prove to be an oustanding contribution to the history of Blacks in sports. I am looking forward to reading the book.

  8. В частности, были освещены вопросы изъятии земельных участков и иных объектов недвижимости для ?государственных нужд
    Появился портал школы российского частного права.
    Приглашаем всех заинтересованных в образовании, новостях в сфере права, а так же тех, кто заинтересован в повышении своей квалификации!
    Обсуждения, новости, помощь и многое другое!
    проекты 2k
    преподаватели 9x

  9. Hi. Thank you for the excellent article. I was looking up the first web site I had seen on the history of the Nova Scotian Team and the site has been hacked. I won’t even go into my thoughts about that issue. But I am so glad you have written on this important piece of history. I’m sad to see that video is gone. I really wanted to pass it on to the Teachers in my life. Is there anywhere I can get a copy of it please?

    Thank you.

  10. I was not aware of the Black Hockey League until two years ago! I even told my husband about it, and he said blacks are not good at skating! I hope to prove him wrong with this web sight! It is very true and it needs to be taught. Just what are you saying Fidel? It is a true part of history that was not put in the books! Which is very sad!

  11. I am proud to finally know about hoe the Negro Hockey League came about. It is a sad same that the information is lost. But the hockey League knows the truth, and further more they are not even speaking about it. Well maybe once in a blue moon!

    My husband is very unaware about this story. He and his other White friends DO Not believe that there was ever a League! I want to prove all of them wrong and give everyone a good history lesson in Blacks in sports!

    Thanks so much!

  12. whats good ppl name travis aka travel real talk its hard out here when you ant finsh skool life is like dat t pain soung chop and screw but let me get to the point rappin been a hobby for me i ben in the game for a lil min i just want to ask what does it takes to be discovered?

  13. Broke the face of a few Canadians when I told them the story of the Negro Hockey League, they did not beleive it, luckely there was a computer close at hand…….hand to mouth was all it was….Sorry Canada

  14. Love this information. I used to ice skate when I lived in NJ and PA in the late 70’s and early 80’s as a kid and I always loved hockey. My appetite for hockey as kid was tremendous. I can remember my first pairs of skates,stick,and gloves. I used to skate on whatever body of water was frozen; primarily on Lake Afton in Yardley,PA. I will say that I never was ridiculed for being the only black kid who liked the game of Ice Hockey. My fam just could not afford for me to play in a league. With this info it makes me wonder did I have a someone in my family tree who was a black hockey player????

  15. Hey! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing several weeks of hard work due to no data backup. Do you have any solutions to stop hackers?

  16. Getting the lowdown on this story changes everything I thought I knew about professional sports . I knew A little about Major Jefferson and professional cycling .read some about Fritz Pollard and pro football.But this story takes the cake.

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