Kenora Thistles

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Kenora Thistles
City Kenora, Ontario, Canada
Founded 1896
Regular season titles 1902,1904,1906,1907
Stanley Cups 1907
1905 - '06 Kenora Thistles (from left: Billy McGimsie, Matt Brown, Roxy Beaudro, Tommy Phillips, Eddie Giroux, Tom Hooper, Si Griffis.)

The Kenora Thistles were an early amateur men's ice hockey team based in Kenora, Ontario, Canada, formed in 1885 as a senior team by a group of Lake of the Woods lumbermen. The club is notable for winning the Stanley Cup as an amateur team in 1907. The town is the smallest in population to have ever won the Cup. The junior team started play in amateur leagues in the 1890s, and ceased playing in 1907, playing against Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario based teams.

The team nickname has been revived since the demise of the original club in late 1907 to denote minor, junior, and senior league men's hockey teams.

Team foundings[edit]

The town of Kenora was originally known as Rat Portage. In the late 1880s, an amateur senior hockey club was formed by older professional men, most of them lumbermen, gold prospectors, or individuals in the local mining businesses. By the early 1890s, several young boys of the Rat Portage area, most of them between the ages of 9-11, formed a junior ice hockey team of the same name, which went on to beat the senior team in an exhibition. Among these young men were future Hockey Hall of Famers Tommy Phillips, Tom Hooper, Billy McGimsie, and Silas Griffis.

Over the next five years, these young players began to populate the senior team and quickly established themselves as one of the premier amateur hockey clubs of the western Canadian provinces. In 1903 they challenged the Ottawa Silver Seven for the Stanley Cup and lost. In 1905 they again challenged the Ottawa squad with the same disappointing results. That summer, the town of Rat Portage changed its name to Kenora.

Stanley Cup champions[edit]

In January 1907 the Thistles again challenged for the Cup, winning it in a two-game, total-goals series against the Montreal Wanderers. Two other future Hockey Hall of Famers, Art Ross and "Bad" Joe Hall were added to the roster from Brandon, although Hall did not play. The games were played on January 17 and 21 in Montreal. Phillips scored seven goals in the two games and Kenora defeated the Wanderers 12–8, winning both games 4–2 and 8–6.

Date Winning Team Score Losing Team Location
January 17, 1907 Kenora Thistles 4–2 Montreal Wanderers Montreal Arena
January 21, 1907 Kenora Thistles 8–6 Montreal Wanderers
Kenora wins total goals series 12 goals to 8

Kenora, with a 1907 population of around 4,000, is the smallest town ever to claim the Stanley Cup.[1]

Just two months later, the Thistles were challenged by the Wanderers to a re-match. Despite importing the services of three more future Hockey Hall of Famers (Alf Smith, Harry "Rat" Westwick, and Frederick Whitcroft), the team lost the Stanley Cup and most of its noted players afterward to other professional teams, family life, or retirement. Roxy Beaudro retired, Si Griffis moved to British Columbia, Billy McGimsie retired due to his injury, Tommy Phillips signed with Ottawa and Fred Whitcroft signed with Edmonton. Smith and Westwick returned to Ottawa.

Date Winning Team Score Losing Team Location
March 23, 1907 Montreal Wanderers 7–2 Kenora Thistles Winnipeg Auditorium
March 25, 1907 Kenora Thistles 6–5 Montreal Wanderers
Montreal wins total goals series 12 goals to 8

The team continued on into the 1907–08 season. The team signed George Archambault, Matt Brown, Bill Cotter and Charlie McGimsie. Despite the promises from a rich lumber boss by the name of Taylor Concord Kraus to provide financial support to continue to field a professional team, the Thistles folded after two games. Eddie Giroux retired, Tom Hooper signed with the Montreal Wanderers and Russell Phillips signed with the Fort William Arenas.

January – March 1907 Stanley Cup champions[edit]



Coaching and administrative staff:

  • † Not part of team when Kenora won the Stanley Cup in January 1907. However, Harry Westwick, Fred Whitcroft, and Alf Smith joined the team in March 1907 to play against the Brandon Wheat Kings in 2 playoff games.
  • †† Left the team after winning the Stanley Cup, Art Ross, and Joe Hall were not part of the team, when Kenora defeated Brandon in 2 game playoff for Manitoba League Title/Stanley Cup.
  • &-Missing from the team picture.

Stanley Cup engraving

Kenora engraved their name inside the bowl of the Stanley Cup. 1907 Thistles of Kenora[2] .

Later incarnations[edit]

Since the original team's demise in late 1907, the nickname Thistle has been used for many hockey clubs in Kenora and is currently the nickname of the town's amateur, junior, and senior-level men's teams. An intermediate version of the Kenora Thistles were a Canadian Junior Hockey Team in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and began play in 1910. In 1934, they won the Turnbull Cup (MJHL) Championship, and repeated in 1940. The Thistles went on to win the Abbott Cup, defeating the Edmonton Athletic Club earning the right to represent the west in the Memorial Cup. It was the first year that two teams from Ontario would face off for the Memorial Cup. The best-of-five series was played in Winnipeg. Kenora lost the final in four games to the Oshawa Generals.

The 1940 Thistles were inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame in the team category. They also have been inducted in the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, The Midwest`ern Canadian Professional Men's Winter Sports Hall of Fame, as well as Kenora's local Hall of Fame.

In 1968 the Kenora Muskies began playing in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. In 1975, the team changed its name to the Thistles in honour of the Stanley Cup team.

See also[edit]


  • Harpage, Don, "The Little Team That Could", Article from Canadian Winter Sportsman, pp.32-37, 1979
  • Podniecks, Andrew Lord Stanley Cup, Fenn Publishing Company, Ltd. 2004
  • Multiple Authors, Kenora Thistles: Our Hockey Heritage, Kenora Enterprise Publishing, 2007
  • Keyser, Arnold Strong, Bringing the Lumber: How the Canadian Lumber Industry Helped Save Hockey, Aronek Publishing, 2006
  1. ^ "Stanley Cup Winners: Kenora Thistles 1906-07Jan". Hockey Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2005-11-23. Retrieved 2006-07-24. 
  2. ^ [Podnieks]

External links[edit]

Media related to Kenora Thistles at Wikimedia Commons