May 13, 2009

The 1937 Kimberley Dynamiters

No history of British Columbia hockey would be complete without mentioning the drillers from Kimberley.

Kimberley is a mining town, home of Sullivan mine, one of the world's largest's lead and zinc deposits. But in 1937 they produced something even more precious in this beautiful spot in the BC Kootenay region - the world championship gold medal of hockey.

The Kimberley Dynamiters joined the senior West Kootenay League in 1931, and immediately began a rivalry with the always strong Trail Smoke Eaters. The Smokies were a true powerhouse of BC hockey. The hockey was first rate. With the promise of high paying mining jobs, many of the players resisted the idea of turning professional because they had secure jobs for life and were making as much or not more than players in the NHL.

By 1934 the Dynamiters were able to dislodge the boys from Trail. Then they were off to defeat the Vancouver Quakers for the BC championship before knocking off the Regina Pats for the Western Canadian title. But Ontario's Fort William team would knock off the Kimberley boys to capture the Allan Cup as Canada's amateur champions.

Coming so close the Dynamiters could almost taste victory. With the Allan Cup tournament coming to BC for the first time in 1936, they put together their strongest entry ever: They added Hugo Mackie, the great Smoke Eaters player. Other key contributors included Fred Botterill, James "Puffy" Kemp, Tom Almack, team captain Harry "Smiler" Brown, Paul Kozak, Bill Burnett, Art Mackie, Ken "King" Campbell, Jack Forsey, Ken Moore, Eric “Swede” Hornquist, Ralph Redding, and coach Johny Achtzener

The Dynamiters destroyed their arch rivals from Trail before defeating Prince Albert and then Fort William in a revenge match. The Allan Cup finals came down to Kimberley and the Sudbury Falcons, with the Westerners edging out the championship with 2-0 and 4-3 victories. The Dynamiters were Allan Cup champions, the first team west of Regina to do so.

As Allan Cup champs, the Dynamiters were customarily asked to go to Europe in the spring of the following year, 1937, to represent Canada at the World Championships. The team went, although with heavy hearts. Two of their key players were unable to make the trip, thanks to a taxi cab accident in St. John's, New Brunswick just before the team departed over seas. Hugo Mackie's career was in doubt with a slightly fractured skull. Goalie Swede Hornquist suffered sever knee damage. Art Mackie and Ken Moore were also dropped from the team, for reasons unknown.

The Dynamiters sought help in the form of young Edmonton defenseman Harry Robinson, 20 year old Saskatoon Wesleys forward Gordon Wilson and Nelso Maple Leafs import George "Red" Goble. Much to the Dynamiters's surprise, Hugo Mackie would return to the team, meeting them on tour in Switzerland.

The Dynamiters had just complete a cross-Canada tour to prepare for their trip to Europe, winning 11 of 14 games by a combined scored of 70-30. It was the toughest competition they would face en route to the world championship gold medal. They toured Europe in another series of exhibition matches, compiling a 18-0-1 record with 141 goals for and just 33 against. At the World Championships, held in London, England, Kimberley was just dynamite, pardon the pun, winning 8 straight games by outscoring the competition 60-4. Substitute goalie Ken Campbell, wearing his tweed cap, recorded 6 shutouts.

For the World Championships the Dynamiters were bolstered by a couple of old friends. Allan Cup team captain Harry "Smiler" Brown and forward Jack Forsey had left the team after winning the senior championship to play professionally in England. Since the games were in London and they were available, they rejoined their old linemates to help lead them to victory.

The Dynamiters continued on touring Europe with a number of exhibition games after the championships, including in Germany where Adolph Hitler reportedly was in attendance.


Carl Martin said...

Fred Botterill was my grandfather. He was a gentleman and a great athlete well into his fifties. I remember trying to beat him in a foot race...he was 52 and I was 12. He beat the pants off me! Unfortunately, he passed away at age 56 after falling off a ladder while working on his garage roof. I still miss him 42 years later.

Dan Mackie said...

Art Mackie did not attend the European tour because my mother was pregnant with me. She had a history of difficult pregnancies, but I shot out like a hockey puck!

Dan Mackie

Unknown said...

If only T.V. had been invented, my Grandpa Botterill would be a Canadian superstar today. T.V. and film must never be imprisoned in its own time.
As Carl Martin's sister, I vouch for the influence my grandfather had on my brother's and my Grandfather's brother-in-law, Bill Jones's hockey coaching careers in B.C.

Anonymous said...

Bob.... do you have any information/history on my father joining the team in 1937 or 1938 ?

Anonymous said...

Bob Johnston..... do you have any information on my father Tank Johnston joining the team in 1937 or 1938. ? His defense partner was Harry Brown.

Judy Boucher said...

My name is Judy Boucher (Redding) and my father was Ralph Redding who was a member of this elite hockey team. Ralph passed away in 2006 at the age of 94. His siblings have had many hours of enjoyment sifting through the many memoirs that Ralph had kept of his glorious years of playing and coaching for the Dynamiters. Two of his prize possesions were a daily journal he kept of the approximate 5 months they were touring to and from the World Championships. The other was a photo album of their trip and also a scrapbook that his father kept of their games.

Anonymous said...

My Grandfather Joe Giegerich was teh president of the Dynamiters team as well as GM for the Sullivan underground. Anyone with info on Gpa Joe email me at lgiegerich@yahoo.com, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Who knows something about other players: Kozak, Robinson, Goble, Wilson, Almack, Kemp, Keiver, Forsey, Hornquist...

Unknown said...

Hugo Mackie was my grandfather. He was a wonderful person, an accomplished skier, bowler, golfer, and all around solid athlete. I true gentleman, sports legend,and the best darn grandfather any young kid could have.

Unknown said...

Hugo Mackie was my grandfather. He was a wonderful person, an accomplished skier, bowler, golfer, and all around solid athlete. I true gentleman, sports legend,and the best darn grandfather any young kid could have.