Over a century ago, women’s hockey was thriving in parts of BC and western Canada. One of the best teams of this era was the Vancouver Amazons, a group of pioneering puck chasers whose skates carved several trailblazing ‘firsts’ into the early history of the women’s game.

Formed in 1918 by a group of King George High School students in Vancouver’s West End, the young Amazons first fell in love with hockey while skating at nearby Denman Arena on Friday nights and watching superstar Cyclone Taylor and his Vancouver Millionaires play on weekends. It wasn’t long before the Amazons were sharing Denman’s ice with Cyclone and the professional Millionaires and being cheered on by crowds of thousands.

Likely the first BC women’s team in any sport to travel and compete outside BC, in 1920 the Amazons played the Seattle Vamps in a two-game home-and-home series in what was likely the first-ever women’s international hockey games in BC and possibly Canada.

In 1921 the Amazons traveled by train to the Banff Winter Carnival for the first time to play for the Alpine Cup, emblematic of women’s hockey supremacy in western Canada. In their first of seven straight years traveling to Banff, they reached the tournament final and captain Phebe Senkler was crowned Carnival Queen. After returning to Vancouver, the Amazons swept the West Coast Women’s Championship hockey series against the Victoria Kewpies and Seattle Vamps, winning all four games without conceding a goal. Many consider this the first-ever women’s international hockey series or league anywhere.

One year later, the Amazons were back at the Banff Winter Carnival and this time they overcame the long 30-hour journey, frigid -30-degree temperatures, and injuries to key players to defeat the reigning champion Calgary Regents in the final 2-1 in overtime on two blistering long shots from Kathleen Carson. With the victory, the Amazons became the first BC team to claim the women’s hockey championship of Western Canada, which some called “the female equivalent of the Stanley Cup.”

Team Members: Lorraine Cannon, Thelma (Insley) Kaye, Beatrice Green (chaperone), Nan Griffith, Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Hinds, Florence Johnson, Mayme Leahy, Greta Maddison, Isabel McLeod, Guy Patrick (manager), Kathleen (Carson) Patrick, Norah Senkler, Phebe Senkler, Helen Tees, Amelia Voitkevic.

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.