Soul on Ice: History of black Maritime hockey players part of new documentary

A new documentary, Soul on Ice: Past, Present & Future is telling, in part, the story of a hockey league many were unaware existed including Kwame Damon Mason.

More than 400 black hockey players — 4 from P.E.I. — were part of the league between 1895 and 1930

An image of players from the Halifax Eurekas of the Coloured Hockey League, dated 1906. (Black Media Mine)

A new documentary, Soul on Ice: Past, Present & Future is telling, in part, the story of a hockey league many were unaware existed including Damon Kwame Mason.

The broadcaster turned filmmaker said he learned of what was called the Coloured Hockey League after doing some research into why there were not more black hockey players in the National Hockey League for the film.

Soul on Ice filmmaker Kwame Damon Mason says he learned of the Coloured Hockey League when he was doing research for his film. (Soul on Ice/Facebook)
"That literally floored me because here I am, I'm in my thirties and I'm now learning about this league of coloured players in Canada."

Over 400 hockey players from the Maritimes, including four from Prince Edward Island, played in the league that operated from 1895 to 1930.

Mason said it's a shame so few people know about the league considering hockey is such a big part of the Canadian lifestyle.

10 teams

The league was made up of 10 teams and the focus was to have organized hockey for the young black men in the area who were paid to play.

"It was to have something to do, to play this sport that everybody else was playing in the country."

The documentary Soul on Ice includes the story of the Coloured Hockey League. (Soul on Ice/Facebook)

Mason said because of the way some of the players in the league played the game it was looked at closely by others.

"For example, there was a guy named Eddy Martin who was apparently the very first person to do what we would consider now the slapshot."

Mason continued adding the butterfly way of goaltending also came from this league.

The filmmaker said he hopes someone will try to find out more about the league.

League destroyed

"I tried my best and I put it in my film, Soul on Ice but there's a lot more out there that should be talked about."

Mason said he learned what he could from a book written about the league, from descendants of the players and from museums.

The league's ending came with the destruction of Africvillle in Nova Scotia, after that community refused to allow a railway to be built through the area where they lived.

Mason said as part of the government's interference, rinks were shut down, or teams would be given late ice times.

"It just got to the point where they couldn't afford to keep the league together."

"I firmly believe the game of hockey would be different today if the Coloured Hockey League would have been allowed to stay where it was and not stop in the thirties."

Mason's documentary can be watched on Amazon or iTunes. 

With files from Island Morning interview with Laura Chapin