1931 Colleens make hockey his­tory

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa If any res­i­dent knows more about the his­tory of the Howlett Colleens, email news@drumheller­mail.com

Drumheller has a sto­ried his­tory of hockey, start­ing with the Drumheller Min­ers and the Fab­u­lous Bent­ley broth­ers, right up to the 1966 Al­lan Cup Cham­pi­ons. There were also the Fal­cons, which made to the AJHL fi­nals in the 1974-75 sea­son, and to­day’s Drumheller Dragons.

How­ever there is one more team that can be men­tioned in the same breath, and that is the Howlett Colleens.

The Colleens, an all-fe­male hockey team, man­aged by White­house Ho­tel owner Percy “Shorty” Howlett, cap­tured the imag­i­na­tion of the val­ley when they won the 1931 In­ter­me­di­ate Pro­vin­cial Hockey Cham­pi­onship. That year they de­feated the Ed­mon­ton Jasper Park Hus­tlers in a two-game se­ries to cap­ture the ti­tle.

For­mer res­i­dent Betty Baier, now of Van­cou­ver, shared a photo of the cham­pi­onship team and some news­pa­per clip­pings from the era of the Colleens. Her sis­ter Marge Grant was a star player on the team. She later went on to play with the Calgary Tigerettes who played out of the Vic­to­ria Arena.

The Colleens were the dar­lings of Drumheller dur­ing those sea­sons, and gar­nered head­lines for their play on the ice. Other rec­og­niz­able names on the squad in­cluded Annie Gam­mie, Isa Brown and Bunty Brown.

It was a very dif­fer­ent time for fe­male sports, and this was em­blem­atic in the lan­guage and the cov­er­age. For just as many sto­ries about the team’s on-ice per­for­mance, there were ref­er­ences to their beauty and fe­male charms.

An­nu­ally the team would travel to the Banff Win­ter Fes­ti­val to play and would come home stars, mak­ing head­lines when they were in­cluded in the news­reels played at the talkies at the Napier Theatre.

In fact, in 1932 the Queen of the Car­ni­val was Mar­garet Ni­col, and the team posed as “Banff Bathing Beau­ties” in the hot springs for cam­era­men.

To get the an­nual fes­ti­val they held dances to fundraise for the trip.

Also re­flec­tive of the times, in the Jan­uary 30, 1930, edi­tion of The Mail, a fan poem was printed ex­tolling the team’s virtues, open­ing:

“Drumheller has a hockey team Com­posed of maidens fair. And a sweeter ag­gre­ga­tion Can­not be found else­where.”

The pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onship was not just a flash in the pan. The girls in green and white made it to the cham­pi­onship in 1932 but lost the Cof­fey Me­mo­rial Cup to the Red Deer Ama­zons 4-0.

The Colleens were busy in the off-sea­son as well and hit field to play soft­ball. In 1933, they went on a tour of the prov­ince play­ing teams from all over. The also com­peted in the pro­vin­cial ju­nior cham­pion that year. Af­ter de­feat­ing Craigmyle, they went on to play the Mor­rin Fly­ers, but lost. The Fly­ers went on to win provin­cials, be­hind the pitch­ing of Ellen Hoy.

While The Mail could not dis­cern what­ever hap­pened to the Colleens, their short-lived legacy cer­tainly pro­vided some no­teri­ety for the Drumheller val­ley.


The Howlett Colleens cap­tured the 1931 pro­vin­cial women’s in­ter­me­di­ate cham­pi­onship. They are (top row; l-r) Peggy Tay­lor, Norma Owens, Mickey Clifton, Elsie Jef­feries and Ellen Derry, (sec­ond row; l-r) Eileen Whit­more, Mar­jorie Gib­son, Doris Walsh, Mar­garet Ni­col, Eleanor Clarke, Al­berta Davis and Mary Hutchison (third row; l-r) Mickey Paige, Florence Lind­say, Annie Gam­mie, Percy Howlett, Anne Clarke, Isa Brown and Ral­phina Hat­field and (front row; l-r) Royal Mitchell, Edna Young, Mar­jorie Grant and Bunty Brown.

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