In the late part of the 19th Century, hockey was becoming a national pastime and miners and smelter workers in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia were quick to organize casual games among neighbouring communities, including Trail. Hockey in Trail became more formally managed with the construction of the Fruit Fair Building on Bay Avenue in 1911.

Trail’s Fruit Fair Building, constructed in 1912. Replaced by the Cominco Arena in 1949, the Fruit Fair Building was demolished in 1951.

In winter, the building was used for hockey, skating and curling. In 1913, the Boundary-West Kootenay Hockey League was formed with teams from Trail, Rossland, Nelson, Phoenix, Grand Forks, and Greenwood. The Trail team became league champions in 1914, winning the first of eleven Daily News Cups. The league suspended play with the outbreak of World War One.

Trail Hockey Club, 1913-14. Back row: James Buchanan [president], Alf Saunders, Herb Jackson [trainer], Paddy McDonough, Bob Schwartz [secretary], Tuffy Atkins, Mr. Reese [manager]. Front row: Charlie Haddock, Chuck Snider, Joe Vanatter, Scotty Fraser, Gibby McDonald. Mascot in front is Buster Brown.

After the war, interest in hockey grew and in 1925, artificial ice was installed in the Fruit Fair Building. The following year, Trail entered competition for the Savage Cup, emblematic of the Provincial hockey supremacy. The goal from the outset was to win the Canadian hockey championship, the Allan Cup. Trail won the Savage Cup that year and hockey fever took hold of the community.

It was in the late 1920s that the Trail Senior Hockey Club assumed the name “Trail Smoke Eaters.” The Smoke Eaters were a force with which to be reckoned, winning seven straight Savage Cup titles.

Trail Hockey Club - Champions of B.C., Alta. and Sask., 1927-28, holders of Savage, McBride, Daily News and Meikle trophies. Back Row: R.S. Jones (Executive), A.J. McDonnell (President), Sam Stewart (Vice-President), R.B. Dimock (Manager). Middle Row: H. Potter (Assistant), S. J. Meredith (Assistant), H.D. Anderson, Jas. Hanson, C.P.Reddick, J.P. Schofield (Secretary), E. Arthur, Trainer. Front Row: Art Mackie, G.W. Bond, O. Gustafson, P.J. Jackson, C. Kendall, G.W. Wheatly, G. Brennan. On floor: Ray Barnes (Mascot).

Their reign ended when the Kimberley Dynamiters won in 1933. The “Smokies” regained the Championship in 1937 with the strongest team they had fielded to date, one that would make hockey history.

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