|The 1909 Baseball Team in Maple Creek
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Every community, from the largest to the smallest, has a history of sports. Sports are what bring people of a community together, and form the friendships that last in the hamlet, village, town or city.
Maple Creek has had a very long history of sports, dating back to the founding of the community in 1883. There are no written records or photographs to prove that sports were played at this early stage, but the men working the CPR had to pass the time somehow, so it is likely some sports were played on an informal basis.
By the turn of the 20th century, baseball was being played in the community, with photographs of the Maple Creek Baseball Team in 1903 and the Maverick Senior Baseball Team in 1909 attesting to this fact.
By 1913, football had joined the sports world of Maple Creek, with the forming of the Southwest Saskatchewan Football League. This league consisted not only of a team from Maple Creek, but also from Piapot, Gull Lake, Swift Current and Shaunavon. The league appears to have been a big success but it quickly died away as most of its players left to fight in the First World War.
In 1920-21, hockey was thriving in the community and the Maple Creek Hockey Team were champions of their local league according to a picture taken of the team at that point. Several players from these early hockey teams would go on to play elsewhere including Ross Foster, who went on to play for the Kenora Thistles Junior Hockey Team, the Los Angeles Van Fleet and the Dinke Oil Company Hockey Club. John Mason Chant would go on to play for the University of Alberta Hockey Club.
Another player from the early era of the 1930s-40s that would see success in the hockey world was Dan McDougald. He would play for the University of Toronto Blues from 1946 to 1949 under the guidance of Ace Bailey, a Hockey Hall of Fame inductee and the NHL scoring leader from 1928-29. MacDougald would also play for the iconic Trail Smoke Eaters from 1949 to 1951, the Nanaimo Clippers from 1951 to 1952, the Kamloops Elks from 1952 to 1953, the Spokane Flyers from 1953 to 1956 and the OHMHL team in Rossland from 1956 to 1957.
While sports declined in the 1930s and 1940s due to The Great Depression and the Second World War, they would hit a golden age in the 1950s and 1960s in Maple Creek. A new Memorial Arena was built in 1949 and the popularity of hockey exploded, with several teams playing for the town.
Many players from these early years would go on to have success in hockey including several WHL players, as well as Barry Dean, the first player from Maple Creek to be drafted into the NHL.