Updated: May 12, 2021
From 1909 until the early 1950s, the Cornwall Cup was awarded for the men’s hockey championship of the Slocan.
Officially engraved as the Slocan District Hockey Trophy, at least six towns played for it at various times: Slocan City, Silverton, New Denver, Sandon, Nakusp, and Kaslo — even though the latter two are not in the Slocan.
Sandon had a head start on the other Slocan cities, icing its first team in 1897. There was no league back then — just a series of exhibition games plus some tournament play. Before artificial ice, the season was very short: January and February, and sometimes a few late December matches.
Sandon entered the Rossland Winter Carnival in 1898, the de facto provincial championship, downing Nelson 3-0 in their opener but only tying Rossland 1-1 in the final to finish runner-up.
Slocan City had a team by 1899 and Silverton and New Denver got in the act by 1901 — although in New Denver’s only scheduled game that year, the players were a no show. It’s not clear where the game was to be played.
Sandon, which had a rink, held its own carnival in 1901 and invited Slocan and Silverton, along with teams from Nelson, Rossland, Revelstoke, and Kaslo. Slocan didn’t make it, but Sandon beat Rossland 4-2 and Kaslo defeated Silverton 5-2.
Sandon returned to the Rossland Winter Carnival in 1902, losing its only game 8-4 to Phoenix.
In 1903, Slocan City and Sandon both went to the carnival, but lost their opening matches 4-3 to Rossland and Nelson, respectively. They were the last representatives from the Slocan to attend the carnival.
In 1904, Silverton beat New Denver 17-1 but lost 5-2 to Rossland. Silverton and Slocan both had men’s and women’s teams that year.
Afterward, hockey in the Slocan seems to have gone on hiatus for a few years, although a photograph reveals the existence of a 1906 team in Slocan City. The man in black might be Lester Patrick, who we know had been invited to play for the team.
Slocan hockey team, 1906. Their sad expressions seem to say “If only we could play for a chalice to prove our worthiness as ice-hockeyists of Slocan district.”
(Arrow Lakes Historical Society 2007-002-2)
Something significant happened in 1908: John Edmund (Jack) Cornwall, who for three years had been the accountant at the Bank of Montreal in New Denver was transferred to the Spokane branch. According to the Slocan Mining Review of Jan. 16:
Mr. Cornwall has been the pivot of the local athletic circle during his stay here, and as he excelled in all branches of sport his departure is keenly felt. He is an all round good fellow, the pride of the boys and the idol of the girls.
Cornwall was from a pioneering family near Ashcroft, where he was born in 1877. His father, Henry Pennant Corwall, and uncle Clement founded a ranch and roadside house in the 1860s, naming it Ashcroft after their home in Gloucestershire. They also had the first post office in the area and helped establish the Anglican Church.
Later, some others established a town nearby, first called Harpers Mill, then Barns farm, then Ashcroft Station. When the word “station” was dropped from the town name, the Cornwalls added “manor” to their establishment to avoid confusion.
Cornwall Mountain, Cornwall Creek, and Cornwall Hills — all near the property the brothers purchased — were named after them. Clement served 10 years as a senator and in 1881 was appointed BC’s third lieutenant-governor.
In the fall of 1908, George Hope visited Sandon with a proposal to establish a Slocan Hockey League. According to the Slocan Mining Review of Nov. 5:
It is proposed that Kaslo, Sandon, New Denver, Silverton, and Slocan City shall be the contestants, and that each town shall bear their proportionate share towards the purchase of a cup.
Somehow over the next three months, J.E. Cornwall agreed to sponsor the cup and presented it to the New Denver club, but it’s not known where it was purchased or engraved or how much it cost. It was first mentioned in the Nelson Daily News of Feb. 4, 1909:
The New Denver hockey club has received challenges from the Slocan City and Nakusp hockey teams to play matches for the possession of a fine silver cup presented to the first named club by J.E. Cornwall, late of this city and now of the Bank of Montreal, Spokane. This trophy is this year to be played for as a challenge cup and next year it is intended to form a hockey league in the Slocan district. The Cornwall cup is not in any way hedged in by rules and any team in the Slocan district, providing that all its members have lived in the town represented for two months previous to the match may compete. Two games have to be played for the cup and both have to be played in the town holding the cup, thought, it is understood that this city is willing to play home and away games.
Here’s a season-by-season recap of the battle for the Cornwall Cup.
Despite indications that New Denver might agree to a home-and-home series, both games of the two-game, total goal series against Slocan City were played in New Denver. Slocan won the opener 4-3. According to the Nelson Daily News,
The only feature about the game concerning which there was any adverse comment was the work of the referee. He appeared to favor Slocan, but the New Denver people could not kick very much at this time for it was the cup trustees, who are residents of New Denver, who appointed him. It is only fair to the referee to say that people do not accuse him of willfully favoring Slocan, but the fact remains that New Denver appeared to get the worst of the deal.
(The referee was A. Miller of Slocan.)
For the second game, the SS Slocan made a special trip to New Denver, stopping at Silverton to pick up spectators. Slocan brought a cheering section and people also came from Nakusp. Slocan won 5-3.
“When the whistle blew for time Slocan had won the Cornwall cup by three goals in the series of two matches and proud they were and deservedly so, as it is a very handsome cup,” the Daily News wrote.
Decades later, in his memoir, Denis St. Denis recalled:
The trustees of the cup were always New Denver men. They made it a must that all participants of the game in any town must be the residents of that place … Each time we went up we chartered the boat at a cost of $80. We always got enough people to make the trip at a return are of $1 to cover the cost of the boat. We left Slocan City at about 6 p.m. and returned probably as late or early as 3 a.m. As the New Denver club always put on a dance to get enough money to cover the expenses of our team. Much to the chagrin of the New Denver people we won the cup.
Nakusp then challenged Slocan, and a two-game series — both matinees — was played in New Denver. Slocan won the first game 7-3 and the second game 10-5 to hang on to the cup. St. Denis recalled of this series:
[Nakusp] had no ice and no one on the team that turned up at New Denver that could lay claim to be a hockey player. We agreed to meet them in an afternoon game. There was by then 1½ inches of water on the ice. We won easily of course but not having any funds in the club each player had to pay his own fare. After the game was over I surely read the riot act to a couple of trustees.
Sandon then issued a challenge for the cup, and won the opener at home, 7-2 over Slocan. The second game, played the following night, resulted in a 4-4 tie, but Sandon won the series and the cup by virtue of an 11-6 edge in total goals. However, St. Denis claimed in his memoir that Sandon’s win was tainted and possibly forfeited.
When we got on the boat at Slocan City to make the trip, a man named Ed Bloomfield, a good hockey player from Greenwood, was on the boat and told the boys that he was going to play for Sandon and that disturbed the boys very much. But I, knowing something of the situation, told them not to say a word but just carry on as if he was entitled to play.
Sandon won 3-2 [sic]. After the game I went to the Reco hotel and met Major Angus Davis who was operating property in Sandon for the CM&S [Cominco]. He invited me into the bar and the first thing he said to me was “Well, Sandon won the Cornwall Cup.” I said “No. You won the game but you didn’t win the cup!”
So he offered to bet me $5 that they had, which I promptly covered. I then read to him, from memory, word for word, the contents of the telegram he sent to Bloomfield, asking him to come up. I never told him or anyone who gave me that information, but he realized that they couldn’t make any claim to the cup. Nor could the trustees back down on their own rules.
Indeed, Bloomfield did play centre for Sandon in that series, and scored three goals (Angus Davis played defence). However, there was no suggestion in the Nelson Daily News that Sandon forfeited due to an illegible player.
St. Denis’ memoir is riddled with errors generally and must be taken with a great deal of salt; he mis-remembered the Nakusp series as taking place after the one against Sandon. Then again, the back of the cup was engraved “Won by Slocan Hockey Club 1909.” No mention of Sandon. We have no way of knowing whether those words were added immediately after the first series against New Denver, or only after the series against Nakusp and Sandon.
This was the only season that the cup was played for more than once.
1910 to 1912
No games known.
A new Slocan District Hockey League was formed, including Sandon, New Denver, Silverton, Nakusp, and Slocan. Slocan had no rink, however, so dropped out. Silverton also withdrew partway through the season after losing all three of their games. Nakusp went 0-4, New Denver was 3-2, and Sandon led the way with six straight wins.
This appears to have set Sandon and New Denver up for a one-game, winner-take-all league final, by virtue of finishing first and second in the standings, but it wasn’t explicitly stated.
In the final, Sandon “foreclosed the mortgage on the Cornwall cup” with a 5-4 win over New Denver on home ice. About 150 people travelled from New Denver, Rosebery, and Three Forks to watch.
The Daily News of Jan. 30 noted “A meeting of the trustees of the Cornwall Cup was held in New Denver,” but didn’t identify them.
The Sandon hockey team won the Cornwall Cup in 1913, pictured at bottom.
Back row: D.J. Pattison, O. Tapanila, J.A. Chisholm. Front row: R.C. McLanders, W.M. Tattrie, W.D. Tattrie, W.S. McLanders. Photo taken in front of the Sandon CPR station. (Kootenay Lake Historical Society 988.040.1452)
A copy of the league constitution for this season survives in the Slocan Valley Archives, along with the schedule and team rosters. They reveal that membership in the Slocan District Hockey League was $5 per club plus a $50 deposit. Each club was allowed one club trustee and one league representative. The league used the rules of the British Columbia Coast League (i.e. the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, bankrolled through the sale of the Patrick Lumber Co. mill at Crescent Valley) with a few exceptions: clubs were required to have seven players aside instead of eight, there was no official scorer, no dressing rooms, and major penalties did not come with a fine.
Nakusp, New Denver, Sandon, Silverton, and Slocan City were each to play eight games, half at home and half on the road (although due to a lack of ice, New Denver only played two home games and the other six on the road).
The rosters (pictured at right) appeared to include virtually every man in each town who could skate: 60 names for Sandon, 57 for Slocan, 54 for New Denver, 38 for Silverton, and 33 for Nakusp. Players were not eligible unless they lived in the Slocan before Jan. 1 of the current season. Players could not play for more than one team in the same season. But the key clause was this:
The club winning the majority of games scheduled shall be declared the winners of the Cornwall Cup and shall hold possession of same until the next playing season, when it shall be handed over to the secretary-treasurer of the league for exhibition purposes. In case of a tie, home and home games to be played, the majority of goals scored to count for the cup.
So no playoffs unless the standings were tied.
The league executive was honourary president Thomas Abriel, Nakusp; president R.J. Sutherland, New Denver; vice-president A.S. MacAulay, Silverton; and secretary-treasurer J.E. Angrignon, New Denver.
While the final standings are unclear, the Slocan Record of March 12, 1914 suggested Sandon went 6-and-2 to top the standings:
Sandon, for the second season, wins the Cornwall cup. The Silver City has by far the best average [sic] team in the league, and, with the exception of the games in New Denver and Nakusp, had an easy time throughout the season.
(New Denver beat Sandon 11-4 in the season’s penultimate game.)
A shield was added to the base reading “Won by Sandon Hockey Club 1914.”
The teams were Kaslo, Silverton, Sandon, and New Denver. New Denver apparently won the cup, but details aren’t available. Slocan dropped out of the league, but did play matches against Appledale and Perry Siding.
The teams were Sandon, Silverton, and New Denver. Kaslo sent a delegate to the league meeting in New Denver, but did not enter a team. A six-game schedule was drawn up, with each team to play four times, but no scores have been located. Slocan sat out again, but had a couple of teams: the Dirigibles swept the Seaplanes in a best-of-three series to win the Dreadnought Cup.
Originally teams were to have been Kaslo, Silverton, Sandon, and New Denver, but New Denver dropped out (oddly, a much later source claimed New Denver’s 1917 team was the best it ever had). The schedule called for teams to play six games each, but no scores have been found. One of Kaslo’s goaltenders this season was 14-year-old Tuffy Garland, who would go on to play for the Trail Smoke Eaters in the 1920s.
There didn’t appear to be a league this year, but New Denver did have a team.
No games known.
The Slocan City club reorganized for the first time since 1914. Capt. William Kirby was the honorary president, H.L. Fife the president, R.J. Johnson the manager, and Ed Graham secretary-treasurer. A collection was taken up for equipment, which came to $15. Only one game score is known: New Denver clobbered Slocan 11-2.
New Denver won the cup — which we only know because of the shield that says so. It looks like it was originally struck as 1921, but corrected to 1922. According to the Nelson Daily News of Jan. 25, 1922, New Denver beat Slocan 10-6 at home in “one of the series for the Cornwall Cup.” But no other scores from this series have turned up.
No games known, although in 1923 a junior squad known as the Slocan Reds took on senior teams from Slocan and New Denver.
According to the Slocan Enterprise of Jan. 9, 1928, the Cornwall Cup had not been contested since 1915, when New Denver won it. Yet the 1922 shield on the cup itself proves otherwise. In 1928, a new circuit consisting of New Denver, Silverton, and Slocan City was formed known as the Slocan Lake League. The executive was president F.M. Hufty, Slocan City; vice-president P. Kennett, New Denver; and secretary G. Kelly of Silverton.
A four-game schedule was drawn up for each team, with two home and two road games apiece. At the conclusion of the regular season, the top two teams would play a two-game, total-goal series to determine the champion.
But while the season series was played, it’s not clear if a champion was ever declared. Nothing about the playoffs appeared in the Enterprise and no shield was added to the cup for this year.
The league consisted again of Slocan City, New Denver, and Sllverton. The Enteprise on Feb. 6 reported that a protested game between Slocan and Silverton was to be replayed, and if Slocan won it would result in a three-way tie in the standings: “If Slocan loses they will be definitely out of it and Silverton and New Denver will play off for the Cornwall Cup.”
Alas, the papers for the next two weeks are missing. But a shield on the cup itself has the answer: “Won by Silverton Hockey Club 1929.” There is also a picture of the team, seen below. The date and names are as listed in John Norris’ Old Silverton.
Silverton Hockey Club, 1929. Back row: Frank Liebscher, Joe Harris, Sandy Harris, Bert Marshall, Jack Harding. Middle row: Rolly Peachy, Albin Erikson, Jack Kelly, Frank Mills. Front row: Evart Erickson, Jack Fleury, Harry Elsmore, Carl McKinnon, Harry Liebscher, Clarence Richardson, Bob Dewis. Boy holding Cornwall Cup: Ken Stanton. (Silverton Historical Society A006-001-0011/Frank Mills collection)
Once again it was a three-team league with Slocan City, New Denver, and Silverton. Silverton defended its title and had another shield added: “Won by Silverton Hockey Club 1930.”
The league consisted once more of New Denver, Silverton, and Slocan City. Silverton went 6-and-0 during the regular season and defeated Slocan City 8-3 at home in the league championship. President R.J. Johnson of Slocan City presented the Cornwall Cup to the team during a banquet at the Memorial Hall. According to the Slocan Enterprise of Feb. 16:
This he did in a few well-chosen words, presenting the cup to the little mascot “Spike” Stanton, who in turn handed it to the captain, K. McKinnon, who responded in a suitable manner, thanking the citizens for their enthusiastic support and cooperation with the local team.
A shield was added in the same style as the 1914, 1922, 1929, and 1930 shields: “Won by Silverton Hockey Club 1932.”
No games known, but Slocan had a team, pictured below.
The Slocan Hockey Club of 1932-33. Back row from left: Ted Hicks, Frank Hufty, Evander (Duke) Rogers, Harold Pinchbeck, Alex Hurst, Vic Hurst. Middle row: Melville (Red) Long, True Hicks, Wilbert (Buck) Hicks. Front row: Johnny (Mooney) Greenwood, Murray McNeish, Alex Ewing.
(Slocan Valley Archives 2013-01-167)
Slocan nearly blew an 8-1 lead against New Denver in an exhibition game, but held on to win 9-8. Slocan later beat New Denver 9-6. These are the only scores that have been discovered from this season; it’s unclear if there was a league, and if so, what other teams were in it.
No games known. New Denver had a women’s team in 1935, of which some terrific photos exist.
Slocan beat Silverton 12-0 in a game played at Slocan, but I don’t know if this was Cornwall Cup competition.
No games known.
A shield on the cup says: “Won by Slocan City Hockey Club 1946” but details are unavailable. This is the final shield, but it was not the last year the cup was contested.
No games known.
The Slocan Area Hockey League was formed with teams from Slocan, Silverton, New Denver, Nakusp, and Zincton — the latter to be made up of employees from the Lucky Jim mine. However, Zincton dropped out. (Where would they have played their games?)
This is the only season for which we have complete standings and individual scoring statistics. Each team played six games. Slocan was undefeated, outscoring the opposition 45-18. Silverton went 2-3-1 with 33 goals for and 36 against. Nakusp was 2-4-0 with 30 goals for and 40 against, and New Denver was last at 1-4-1, with 30 goals for and 44 against.
Slocan’s Ted Hicks led the league in scoring with 18 goals and 11 assists. He was also penalty-free. Des Hood of Slocan was runner up with 12 goals and six assists.
Notable is that New Denver and Slocan each had a Japanese-Canadian player: Nappy Sakamoto scored two goals and an assist for Slocan while Takanaka (first name unreported) scored once for New Denver.
The playoff format was to be a best-of-three series. Slocan swept it in two against New Denver, clinching the final 7-3. According to an undated Nelson Daily News clipping:
At the end of the game both teams lined up at center ice while Andy Jacobsen, the remaining trustee of the Cornwall Cup, presented it to Des Hood, captain of the Slocan team. Pictures were taken of the victorious team with the cup, and of the losing team.
The Nakusp Silver Standard of March 11, 1948 also discussed the history of the Cornwall Cup, noting that J.E. Cornwall “is said to be still alive and friends in New Denver still communicate with him.”
It added: “This is the first year Nakusp has competed in play for the cup.” (It wasn’t.) “The last year the cup was up for competition was 1932 when Silverton won. It is very unfortunate that no accurate record of the winners has been kept. There are perhaps six or eight plates on the cup and those are at broken intervals.”
No shield was added to the cup for this team — unless the 1946 shield should have read 1948. That might explain the suggestion the cup had not been contested since 1932.
Either the 1946, 1948, or 1949 Cornwall Cup champion team from Slocan City, with the cup seen in the foreground. Back row from left: Stan Heslip, Ted Hicks, Harold Pinchbeck, Jim Heslip, Des Hood, Ted Graham, Reid W. Gardiner, Frank Hufty.
Front row, from left: W.E. Graham, Benny Lister, Gordon McDonald, Edward Clough, True Hicks, Les Hufty. (Slocan Valley Archives 2013-01-168)
The Slocan-Arrow Lakes Hockey League had teams from New Denver, Nakusp, Silverton, and Slocan City. W.E. Graham was league president, C.R. Tipple vice-president, and R. Gardiner secretary. After some exhibition matches, a 12-game regular season was scheduled between Jan. 7 and 25, with each team to play three games at home and three on the road. However, Nakusp’s rink was condemned, forcing them to play most of their games on the road. The final standings are not clear, but apparently Slocan defended its championship by defeating Nakusp.
Players don old-timey mustaches as Slocan celebrates its Cornwall Cup victory at a banquet in 1949. Back row, from left: Adam Clough, Harold Pinchbeck, Azu Oikawa partly obscuring Red McDonald, Jimmy Heslip, John Avis, Ted Graham, Benny Lister, unknown. Front row: Stan Heslip, Des Hood, Ed Graham (holding the cup), Ted Hicks, Howard Russell. (Slocan Valley Archives 2013-01-343)
Same banquet for the Slocan team, March 1949. From left, Ted Hicks, Lizzie Graham, unknown, Pat Pinchbeck, John Avis, Vi Lister, Bennie Lister, Shirley Bertram, Stan Heslip, Mr. Russell, Des Hood. Standing at end of room: Elsie and Ann Storgard. On far side: Harold Pichbeck. The Cornwall Cup sits on the table. (Slocan Valley Archives 2013-01-345)
Nakusp’s Bill Barrow was perhaps the league’s last surviving player when interviewed by the Arrow Lakes News in 2011 at age 81.
Barrow said the cup [was] competed for and won by New Denver and Slocan during his time growing up. But not once did Nakusp get a shot at the title.
Not until 1949, when he was 19, a young left-winger who would help drive his team to a championship game versus Slocan City.
“We never did win that cup,” Barrow admits. “But it’s never been played for since.”
Actually, it was awarded at least once more.
The Nelson Daily News of Jan. 10, 1950 reported that at the Slocan District Hockey League’s annual meeting in New Denver, W.E. Graham of Slocan was re-elected president. Ted Hicks and F.B. Tessman were appointed to referee all games except those played in Slocan City.
A schedule was not set because Nakusp wasn’t sure whether it would be in the league along with Slocan, New Denver, and Silverton. (And I’m still not sure whether it was.)
We do know that Slocan beat New Denver 3-2 to win the championship. The Daily News reported on Feb. 16:
Immediately following the game, league president W.E. Graham presented the Cornwall Cup to Ted Hicks, captain of the Slocan club. The Slocan Club Cup was also presented to Slocan goalie Benny Lister for the best average in this year’s league games.
The Slocan Club Cup’s present whereabouts are unknown.
New Denver had several other Japanese-Canadian players that year: K. Hayashi, C. Yamada, and T. Okahuri.
A league existed in this season, which included Slocan and New Denver, but the outcome of the regular season and playoffs is not known.
Slocan won the Cornwall Cup in 1909, 1946, 1948, 1949, and 1950. Silverton won in 1929, 1930, and 1932. Sandon won in 1909, 1913, and 1914, but may have forfeited the 1909 victory. New Denver won in 1922 and possibly 1915.
Whatever the outcome of the 1951 season, Slocan kept the cup. According to Elsie Altman, it was displayed in her Greenlight Cafe for 25 years. When she sold the business, she gave it to the village office, where it has remained ever since. Currently it’s in council chambers, in a display cabinet purchased by the Slocan Valley Historical Society.
John E. Cornwall, the cup’s donor, moved back to Ashcroft from Spokane by 1911 and later lived in Kamloops, Merritt, and Victoria. He married Florence Moody and retired from banking in 1935. He died at Ashcroft in 1955, age 78 — having outlived the competition for his namesake cup.
John Edmond (Jack) Cornwall is seen at back right, with grey sweater on, in this undated photo. Also pictured at right are Alan Parker and his wife DeeDee (who was Jack’s niece). The girls at left are Vashti (Fisk) and Margo (Landels) Parker.
(Courtesy Margo Landels)
This is Jack Cornwall’s obituary from the Ashcroft Journal.
— With thanks to Leigh Hufty for identifying the players in the 1932-33 and 1940s Slocan team photo, Craig Bowlsby for information on the 1909 season, Kathy Paulos of the Ashcroft Museum for details on the Ashcroft family and Jack Cornwall’s obituary, Margo Landels for the photo of Jack Cornwall, Henning von Krogh of the Silvery Slocan Historical Society, Joyce Johnson of the Slocan Valley Historical Society, Elizabeth Scarlett of the Kootenay Lake Historical Society and Kyle Kusch of the Arrow Lakes Historical Society for procuring team photos. Updated on Nov. 5, 2018 to add additional details about several seasons, particularly 1909, and photos of the 1949 Slocan banquet.