RCN sports history: Wrens take the ice in Halifax
By Ryan Melanson,
The Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service was in operation during and following the Second World War years, from 1942 to 1946, and saw more than 7,000 women sign up to contribute to the Navy’s war effort. The women served in dozens of different non-combat roles at naval bases at home and abroad, and just like the male sailors, they needed to blow off steam from time to time with recreation and physical activity.
With about 1000 wrens working in Halifax in late 1943, they decided to start up their own hockey league. The number of interested players meant multiple teams were established, and the Wrens league became popular through the 1943/1944 hockey season. A piece in the December 1943 issue of the Crow’s Nest noted that “Large crowds are turning out to see the games and the girls put on a show that proves they have “hockey brains” just as well as the boys.”
This month in RCN sports history
1952 – After five years of frustrating failure, the Shearwater Flyers more than made up for the past by trouncing Stadacona 65-6 to win the Nova Scotia Canadian Football Championship on December 3. Just three days later, they kept the momentum going to win the first Maritime Canadian football playoff ever staged – beating hard-fighting St. Thomas College from Chatham, New Brunswick 14-5 in a sudden death final. The Flyers came from behind a 5-1 deficit at halftime to score 13 points in the third quarter and defeat St. Thomas in front of a big crowd at Dalhousie University’s Studley Field.
1961 – The Stadacona Cagers ran away with two major basketball championships in mid-December. In their first tournament, they won all four games to take the Tri-service Basketball Championship, and just three days later they topped all entries in the Atlantic Command Basketball Meet. In the five-team entry for the tri-service event, Stad defeated three competitors on the opening day, and then downed Cornwallis 62-41 in the sudden death final the next day. Teams entered were Stadacona, Cornwallis, Shearwater, Fifth Escort Squadron and RCAF Summerside. Stadacona’s Rod Shoveller topped the field in points, getting 21 in the final game, while Rick Cartwright paced Cornwallis with 12 points. In the other championship game, Stadacona took the Atlantic Command crown after downing Fifth Escort Squadron 77-36 in the finals. Teams in this second tournament were Cornwallis, Bonaventure, Shearwater, Stadacona and Fifth Escort.
1981 – HMCS Huron was considered the team to beat when they showed up to the Atlantic Regional Small Base Broomball Championships at CFB Summerside in December of 1981. Huron had been champions for five consecutive years heading into the week, and were confident they could make it six. There were five teams competing, with Huron joined by CFB Gander, CFS Sydney, CFS Shelburne, and CFS St. Margarets. While the defending champs breezed through to the finals with little trouble, they faced tough opposition from CFS St. Margarets in the championship game, being forced to a third sudden-death overtime period to break a 1-1 tie. The winning shot, clinching the sixth consecutive title for HMCS Huron, came from LS Ten Eyck.