The Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes (CHL) was an all-black ice hockey league founded in Nova Scotia in 1895,[1] which featured teams from across Canada's Maritime Provinces.[2][3] The league operated for several decades lasting until 1930.[4][5][6][7]

Colored Hockey League
SportIce hockey
Founded1895 (1895)
Ceasedc. 1911 and 1930 (1911 and 1930)
Africville Sea-Sides, c.1921



The league was founded in 1895 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada by a group of four black Baptist leaders and black intellectuals: Pastor James Borden of Dartmouth Church, James A.R Kinney, lawyer and community leader James Robinson Johnston, and lawyer and Pan-African organizer Henry Sylvester Williams.[8] The league was constructed to attract young black men to Sunday worship with the promise of a hockey game between rival churches after the services. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, "with the influence of the Black Nationalism Movement—and with rising interest in the sport of hockey—the league came to be seen as a potential driving force for the equality of Black Canadians."[9]

Among the teams in the league were the Halifax Eurekas, based in Halifax, and the Amherst Royals, based in Amherst.[9] At its zenith, the league had teams in seven communities in Nova Scotia and one in Prince Edward Island.[9]

With as many as a dozen teams, over 400 Black Canadian players from across Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island participated in competition.[10] The Colored Hockey League is credited by some[who?] as being the first league to allow the goaltender to leave his feet to cover a puck in 1900. This practice was not permitted elsewhere until the formation of the National Hockey League in 1917. It is also claimed that the first player to use the slapshot was Eddie Martin of the Halifax Eureka in 1906.[11][12]



In January 2020, Canada Post issued a postage stamp featuring the 1906 champion Halifax Eurekas to commemorate the history of black hockey players in Canada.[9][13]

The history of the league is profiled in Darril Fosty and George Fosty's 2004 non-fiction book Black Ice: The Lost History of the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes, 1895-1925, 2014 book Tribes: An International Hockey History, which expands on their previous work, and in Hubert Davis's 2022 documentary film Black Ice.[14]

The history of the league, including its destruction and the destruction of its black community in Africville by the Halifax government trying to expand their railway, is also visited in Canadaland's Hockey #2 — "The Birth of Black Hockey"[15]

See also



  1. ^ "Black hockey hall of fame proposed for Dartmouth". CBC Sports. August 25, 2006. Retrieved November 17, 2020.
  2. ^ Divine, David (March 26, 2009). Multiple Lenses: Voices from the Diaspora located in Canada. p. 82. ISBN 9781443807586. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  3. ^ Lewis, Jason (February 25, 2016). "Black ice hockey players helped revolutionize the game". Our Weekly. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  4. ^ Kikulis, Emma (March 14, 2016). ""Everything has a soul, and hockey is no different"". The Varsity. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  5. ^ Dawson, Bob (July 2014). "Report : Panel Discussions on Aspects of Black Hockey and the Black Ice Project" (PDF). Saint Mary's University. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  6. ^ "Black league significant in history". The Chronicle Herald. July 12, 2012. Archived from the original on October 27, 2016. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  7. ^ Harris, Cecil (2007). Breaking the Ice: The Black Experience in Professional Hockey. p. 195. ISBN 9781897415054. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  8. ^ Fosty, George; Fosty, Darril (February 2, 2018). "Coloured Hockey League". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d Julian, Jack (January 23, 2020). "New stamp commemorates black hockey league nearly lost to time". CBC News. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  10. ^ Martins, Daniel, Hockey historian credits black player with first slapshot Archived March 23, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, CanWest News Service, January 31, 2007
  11. ^ Drake, Matt (March 28, 2014). "Being black in the NHL: From breaking the colour barrier to the Norris trophy". Eyes On The Prize. SB Nation. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  12. ^ Harrison, C. Keith; Brady, Brad; Hamilton, Philip E.; Valdez, Alicia. "Hockey: Barriers to Crossing the Color Line: the Neglected Story of the Pioneering Players" (DOC). University of Michigan. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  13. ^ "SONAHHR Returns To Its New York Roots". August 14, 2021. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  14. ^ Pat Mullen, "Hubert Davis’s Black Ice Leads Docs in TIFF Gala Announcement". Point of View, July 28, 2022.
  15. ^ Mann, Arshy. "The Birth of Black Hockey". HOCKEY. Episode 2.