Hockey has a long history in Fort Saskatchewan.
The earliest recorded hockey game in Fort Saskatchewan was on Mar.7, 1895. As reported by the Edmonton Bulletin, it was at the end of a best-of-five series, with the Northwest Mounted Police (Fort Saskatchewan) playing against a team of police officers from Edmonton. The series was tied at two games, with both looking for a tiebreaker.

"This game was tied at two-all through three periods of play. They played another 50 minutes of overtime, and then it got dark, so they had to call the game, and they just called it a draw," described Kyle Bjornson, curator of the Fort Heritage Precinct.

The next day, the Northwest Mounted Police went on to lose 1-0 to Calgary. Calgary then beat Edmonton in the next game to take the district championship title.
Hockey teams at this time primarily comprised of Northwest Mounted Police and teams of farmers across the region.

"There were teams in Vegreville; there probably would have been a team in Wetaskiwin, a lot of the other little local communities around here," added Bjornson. "A lot of the farms around that area would have come together to put little teams together."

There were no penalty boxes in the day, and the inter-town rivalry was fierce. Instead, players breaking the rules of the game were "sent to the fence" and sat out along the boards of the rink. A game against Vegreville in February of 1908 saw several of these calls.

"Several of the local boys are slightly disfigured," The Fort Saskatchewan Reporter said about the 6-1 loss to Vegreville.
Where to play?

Initially, games were played on the North Saskatchewan River. It wasn't until 1899 that the Edmonton Bulletin would announce a temporary rink to be built on the river.

"Lumber has been purchased for a curling rink 130 x 16 and a skating rink 120 x 60," read the Bulletin on Nov.6, 1899.

Records from around this time say the rinks were lit by 60 electric lights run by the generator at the mill up the river bank.

"It probably still would have been fairly dark, coming from one direction," explained Bjornson.

In 1903, an announcement was made that the village (at the time) would be clearing ground for a new rink. However, the rink never came to fruition as the weather took a turn for the worse in November. On the 25th of that month, it was reported that crews could not excavate ground for the rink due to the severity of the weather.

In the meantime, curlers and skaters had moved to a frozen slough between 98-99 Avenue and 105-106 Street near the old shopping mall, which was described then as "out by the butts."

Some residents were not impressed by the slough; mayor H.E. Daniel said in his inaugural speech on Oct.3, 1907, that he would drain the slough. However, this did not happen for another 45 years.

Curlers and skaters made a move to the Northwest Mounted Police grounds around 1905. A couple of seasons went by before another announcement was made which declared that a physical rink would finally be built in Fort Saskatchewan.

"A local company has been organized in the Fort, and preparations are underway for a good skating rink this winter to be built on the lawn tennis court on the west side of Government St," wrote the Fort Saskatchewan Reporter on Oct.24, 1907.

Just over a month later, the paper reported the rink would be ready by the next week.
Unfortunately, not much is known about hockey in Fort Saskatchewan after World War I.

"Fort Saskatchewan seems to often get left out of the conversation when we're talking about provincial things, like recreation and sports," Bjornson explained. "It's a town that a lot of people thought was going to be much more important and play a much more important role in the province and the west. It's one of the earliest settled towns as well, so it is kind of interesting that beyond the late 19th, early 20th century records, there isn't much discussion."
"Even the Canadian Northern Railway president Stuart Mckenzie in 1911 speculated that Fort Saskatchewan's population, which was just under 1,000 at the time, was going to explode to 10,000 in five years, which never happened. It took about 100 years for it to actually get there."