Toronto’s First Stanley Cup Banquet

With the Leafs back in the playoffs tonight, let’s dream big! Would a Stanley Cup parade in Toronto rival the scenes from the World Series parade for the Cubs in Chicago last fall? Quite likely. But whatever happens (and whenever it happens), it’s certainly bound to outdo the show the city put on at its first Stanley Cup civic reception 95 years ago.

It appears that there was no public display in the city when Toronto won the Stanley Cup as a member of the National Hockey Association in 1914, nor at the end of the inaugural National Hockey League season back in 1917–18. Things were different when the Toronto St. Pats won the Cup in 1922 by defeating the Vancouver Millionaires in the final game of their best-of-five series.

Headlines
Headlines from Toronto’s Globe and Daily Star sports pages on March 30, 1922.

“Mayor Alf Maguire was as tickled as a schoolboy when the St. Pats won the Stanley Cup last night,” reported the Toronto Daily Star on March 29. “Right away he arranged a banquet for the boys which will take place at the Carls-Rite tonight at 6:30.”

Given that footage exists of a Stanley Cup parade in Ottawa when the Senators returned triumphant from Vancouver in 1921 (unless that’s actually 1923), it seems unlikely that this event in Toronto was the first of its kind for a professional sports team in Eastern Canada as the Star reported … although it was likely a first for pro sports in the city. The evening seems to have been a fairly tame one. None of the accounts I’ve seen mention how many people were there, nor what kind of food or drink was served. For sure there were a lot of politicians and team executives present, and a lot of speeches were made.

Hotel
The site of the Hotel Carls-Rite is currently a parking lot not too far
from the Maple Leafs’ current home at the Air Canada Centre.

Mayor Maguire led the festivities, making a speech in which he lauded the St. Pats for the attention they had brought to the city through their fair play and skill. He asked that the players “continue through the summer the clean living which has characterized their winter’s work.”

Coach George O’Donoghue and manager Charlie Querrie replied on behalf of the players, who received their winner’s checks from the Stanley Cup series prior to the dinner (no mention of the amount, but likely a few hundred dollars each) and were presented with silver-mounted rabbits’ feet by a fan known as  Oh Boy Saunders, the Human Fly, (more on that if I ever find it!) afterwards.

The highlight of the evening came when Mayor Maguire presented the Stanley Cup to team president Fred Hambly after NHL President Frank Calder had presented the O’Brien Cup – aka the O’Brien Trophy, symbolic of the NHL championship at the time – to St. Pats captain Reg Noble.

Banquet
This dining room was likely the site for Toronto’s 1922 Stanley Cup banquet.

“This cup was lost for some time,” said Calder, “and when I dug it up it was being used as a watering trough for a bulldog. May you and your team show the proverbial tenacity of the bulldog who drank out of it, in defending it.”

“We will do our best to keep it here,” replied the captain.

But it would be 10 years before the next NHL championship came to Toronto.

I don’t suppose anyone needs reminding that this year marks 50 since the last one!

11 thoughts on “Toronto’s First Stanley Cup Banquet

  1. Eric,
    Again…..enjoyed this research in depth. Didn’t come across this when I was scanning papers over the years.
    Have heard the Cup being a geranium pot, but never a bulldog’s water dish. Have you found further facts on that one?
    Thanks,
    Glen

    1. I have heard variations on the bulldog story. I have a clip from 1927 where Charles Adams says Calder told him a similar story, but I think it was actually cats in that one!

  2. Looking forward to standing next to you at the Stanley Cup Parade on Yonge Street this June, brother! 😉

    GO LEAFS GO!

    And hey, perhaps the Jays will even have a few wins by then (UGH!)

  3. Interesting reflections Eric, as always. Begs the question; When WAS the first, bonafide parade in Toronto for a successful professional team…a la a New York style ‘ ‘ticker-tape-parade’?
    With only perfunctory and minimal research I have ascertained that even THOSE, parades were reserved for politicians, foreign dignitaries, U.S. Olympic teams and other individuals in recognition of significant, noteworthy contributions or accomplishments dating back to the 1880’s but the first one held for a professional sports team wasn’t until September 27, 1954 celebrating the New York Giants, National League pennant winning team. However, it seems that it wasn’t until 1961, when, in April of that year, they held one for the previous years’ American League pennant-winning New York Yankees that it became a pretty regular occurrence for ‘winning’ pro teams!

    CHEERS!

    1. My own quick research on Toronto parades indicates there was an impromptu parade from the train station welcoming home the Allan Cup-winning University of Toronto team from Winnipeg in 1921. That is, of course, an amateur team, but it does seem to have inspired the fairly large civic parade and banquet for the Ottawa Senators when they returned home from Vancouver as Stanley Cup champions a short time later. That all may have inspired the Toronto Stanley Cup banquet in 1922. And I do believe there were parades for the 1924 and 1928 Olympic hockey teams when they returned to Toronto too. But as for parades in the city for professional teams, I didn’t find anything for the Leafs Cup win in 1932. In 1942, there definitely was a banquet. The word “parade” comes up in stories about it, but it seems more figurative than literal. (Military-Style parades during World War II likely would have seemed ridiculous, and I don’t see any parade stories during the Leafs glory days of 1947-48-49-51 either.) Seems like the Stanley Cup win in 1962 was the first to be marked with a ticker-tape parade, and there were similar ones held in 1963, 1964 and 1967 … which matches nicely with your 1961 discovery for New York. I didn’t look into Argos Grey Cup parades, but it strikes me as unlikely the city would hold one for them in the 1940s if they weren’t doing it for the Leafs. And then, of course, the Argos didn’t win a Grey Cup from 1952 until 1983 when there was a big parade!

  4. Interesting to read another example of the underlying distain for professional sport relative to the purity of amateurs as reflected by this being reported as the first recognition of a professional team by municipal authorities. One wonders for how long it remained politically risky to honour a professional team, even a Stanley Cup winner.
    How the world changes.

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