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Season-ending dinners to honour the hometown team were fast becoming a tradition. This one, at Ottawa’s Russell House Hotel, was to take on historic significance as the event where an aide to Lord Stanley of Preston announced the Governor General’s intention to donate a championship trophy.
The backs of the menu cards which adorned the tables set for the hockey dinner at the Russell last night explained why the dinner was given. They bore the championship record of the Ottawa team for the past winter, a record as honorable in the making as it was splendid in success. Nine championship matches won; a single match lost, by the narrowest possible shave. Fifty-three goals taken in championship contests against the best teams in Canada; only nineteen goals the other way. This was the record of a genuine amateur team playing for pure love of sport and treating all comers as they wished to be treated themselves.
Mr. J. W. McRae, the popular president of the Ottawa Amateur Athletic club, occupied the chair, with the team distributed to right and left, interspersed with invited guests or with club members. The menu cards bore the names of the team: H. Y. Russell, F. M. S. Jenkins, H. S. Kirby, C. T. Kirby, J. Kerr, A. Morel, W. C. Young and R. Bradley.
Between seventy and eighty were present in all. The vice chairs were occupied by Messrs. G. J. Desbarats, vice-president of the O.A.A.C., and P. D. Ross, past president.
The dinner, the first ever formally held under the auspices of the O.A.A.C., proved a very enjoyable affair. The table was spread most invitingly by Mr. St. Jacques and the menu as good as appearances promised. The band of the Governor-General's Foot Guards rendered a fine selection of music during the evening. After dinner was disposed of, a number of ladies entered and were nicely located in a wing of the dining room, where ices were served.
About 10 o'clock, Chairman McRae called the company to order.
After the toast of the Queen, Vice-Chairman Ross proposed the health of the Governor-General, who had shown himself a hearty friend of all healthy athletics, and particularly of hockey.
Lord Kilcoursie, A.D.C., responded for His Excellency and read the following memo. he had received from Lord Stanley:
March 18, 1892.
"I have for some time past been thinking that it would be a good thing if there were a challenge cup which should be held from year to year by the champion hockey team in the Dominion.
"There does not appear to be any such outward and visible sign of championship at present, and considering the general interest which the matches now elicit, and the importance of having the game played fairly and under rules generally recognized, I am willing to give a cup which shall be held from year to year by the winning team.
"I am not quite certain that the present regulations governing the arrangement of matches give entire satisfaction, and it would be worth considering whether they could not be arranged so that each team would play once at home and once at the place where their opponents hail from."
Lord Kilcoursie stated that Capt. Colville, who was at present in England, had been commissioned by the Governor to order the cup. It would be held here by trustees, till the end of next season, and then presented to the champions.
The reading of the letter was greeted with enthusiastic applause.
Mr. Bethune sang a song in capital style.
The next toast was the event of the evening, "The Hockey team." It was proposed in a brief but capital speech by the chairman. Great cheering followed.
Excepting Bradley, unfortunately absent through illness, one after another of the team came up in response to the toast. Each received an ovation. Captain Russell made a clever reply, poking a little fun at the team. Mr. Jenkins referred pleasantly to the old times when he, H. Kirby and Kerr used to battle with the Montrealers. Messrs. Kirby, Kerr, Young, Morel, and C. Kirby each followed in a brief appearance on their feet amid hearty cheers. Young drew forth a special round of applause by speaking of the hearty good fellowship that existed among all the members and clubs of the O.A.A.C.
Lord Kilcoursie then sang an original ditty about the doings of the team, referring in turn to each man, and winding up with a rousing chorus which was rendered in stentorian style by all the members:
"Then give three cheers for Russell
The captain of the boys,
However tough the tussle
His position he enjoys.
And then for all the others
Let's shout as loud we may