Tuesday, April 25, 2023

A (Hockey) League of Their Own: The Westboro Pets

I love this story! While researching something else a while back, I came across the story of the Westboro Pets, a women's hockey team from over a century ago. The more I researched, the more amazing the story became! 

You're likely familiar with the old Tom Hanks-Geena Davis movie "A League of Their Own", which brought to life the short-lived but significant popularity experienced by women's baseball during WWII. I was surprised to discover that similarly, during WWI when a large majority of young men were off fighting overseas in WWI, women's hockey experienced an explosion in popularity. And not only that, but one of Canada's top teams was located right here in Westboro! And this was back when Westboro had a population of around 5,000 people. 

So this became my subject for the April edition of the Kitchissppi Times.

It's an amazing story, and took a look of digging to pull up as many details as I could find. I also searched HARD for a photograph that I know exists somewhere out there, of the team in 1917. I know it exists because it ran in the December 1978 issue of Newswest. A few years ago I acquired the old archive of Newswest from the 70s/80s which contained copies of almost every issue and original photo from the paper in those days, but sadly (and frustratingly) the December 1978 issue is missing, and that team photo was not part of the archives (likely as it had been borrowed). The January 1979 issue made mention of the running of the photo, so I know it's out there somewhere. I have copies of photos of the Ottawa team (the Alerts), but not the Westboro Pets. So if anyone reading this has a copy of it (or miraculously a copy of the December 1978 issue of Newswest) please let me know!

For now though, please enjoy this article about the establishment of organized women's hockey in Canada, it's population surge during WWI, and how Westboro had a key role in all of it.


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