This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Kenora Thistles Stanley Cup championship.
Kenora, also known up until 1905 as Rat Portage, is the smallest city to ever win any major sporting championship. It was a mining, logging and fishing community of about 6,00o people hidden in the deep forests of Northern Ontario. The residents were hard working and burly, and they had little else to do recreationally than play sports.
Soon the local boys developed a reputation as among the best hockey players in the country, and would soon try for the Stanley Cup, back then still a challenge trophy. In 1903 and again in 1905 they unsuccessfully challenged the Ottawa Silver Seven.
1907 was a different story. The local boys, with ringers Eddie Giroux, Bad Joe Hall and Art Ross, traveled to Montreal Arena to challenge the Wanderers. The Thistles captured both games of the series, 4-2 and 8-6.
Back in Kenora virtually everyone in the community listened to pharmacist Joseph Johnson's play by play account courtesy of telegraph. When the final score was announced, people ran into the streets and embraced like never before, and never since.
The Thistles Stanley Cup party was short. Two months later the Wanderers challenged a rematch, and won easily. Soon thereafter big money of professional hockey lured the local boys out of Kenora.
On the weekend of January 20th, 2007, the city of Kenora held centennial anniversary events, headlined by a re-enactment of their famed Stanley Cup match. The Kenora Thistles, featuring 90 year old one-time Thistle Louis McKay, took on a team of NHL legends who dressed as the Montreal Wanderers. The NHL greats included Dale Hawerchuk, Bryan Trottier, Billy Smith, Glenn Anderson, and Bob Bourne. With the Stanley Cup on hand for the first time in 100 years, the NHL greats narrowly edged out the Thistles 11-10.
I highly recommend two websites for more information on the Kenora Thistles:
Out Of The Mists Of Our Pasts
Eyes On The Prize