The Little Tournament That Grew
The old Bolton Arena, reminiscent of a farmer’s barn and complete with a dip in the ice at the blue line to catch unsuspecting opponents, was the birth site of the Club. Under the tutelage of Roy Morris and Jim Tokiwa, and band of young ladies were gradually transformed into hockey players.
The fall of 1964 saw the team entered into the Central Ontario Women’s Hockey League with teams from Caledon East, Malton, Georgetown, Barrie, Richmond Hill and Schomberg. In 1966 the team moved up to “A” competition in the Central Ontario Ladies’ Hockey Association.
Considered a “fad” or described in other uncomplimentary terms, many people came to watch the ladies make fools of themselves, and stayed to make some excellent, exciting hockey. Additional public exposure brought more inquiries from girls and women wishing to join the Canadettes and in 1967 a second team was added. The Canadettes were now a club.
Canada’s Centennial year was also the opening chapter in the Dominion Ladies’ Hockey Tournament. Twenty-two teams vied from the honours in that first Tournament at Doublerinks Arenas in Toronto. That Tournament also featured a wide range in players ages, with Mabel Boyd, a grandmother in her fifties, representing Cooksville, and Lynn Franklin, age nine, from the Canadettes.
Asked to comment on why girls would want to play ice hockey, one Canadette founder said, “I don’t know what attracts them to the game, but this thing has grown in leaps and bounds. The girls are learning quickly and are a treat to coach, and it doesn’t make them any less lady-like either. Just come to one of our banquets sometime.”
By 1975 the Club had become the Brampton Canadettes and the Tournament had been transferred to the City of Brampton where it attracted 56 entries. New playing divisions had been set with Midget, Peewee and Bantam allocations to allow age classifications for the younger players and facilitate equal play. It may be noted that the Canadettes were the first to introduce classification into women’s hockey, via the Tournament, whereby teams were classified according to ability. Later, with the explosion of younger and better teams, classifications were increased and age limits put in.
By 1977 the Tournament had grown so large that is was physically impossible to run it in Brampton and ice was secured in Meadowvale Four Rinks Arena in Mississauga. Also, the date of the Tournament was permanently set to Easter weekend to allow more time to accommodate more teams.
By 1985, One Hundred and Thirty-seven teams competed in 11 divisions, including an international division with teams from Holland, West Germany, New Jersey and Massachusetts, Quebec and Ontario.
Still, the Tournament continued to grow and was outgrowing its 12 year home in Mississauga Four Rinks. In 1988 the Tournament began a gradual move back to Brampton with 179 teams playing 237 games in 16 divisions. Most games were played in Four Rinks, but Brampton’s Century Gardens was added as Tournament headquarters and the site of 47 games.
In 1989 the Tournament had completely returned to Brampton and 165 teams played 276 games in 23 divisions at seven arenas across the city.
Body checking was removed from women’s hockey in 1989-90 yet the sport continued to grow and now called the Brampton Canadettes, Annual Easter Tournament, most recently hosted 390 teams.
Tournament Guide Changes over the years
Brampton Canadettes Tournament in early years