Thunder Bay

A hockey history mystery: Has the original Colonial Cup been found in Thunder Bay, Ont?

A hockey history mystery is unfolding in Thunder Bay, Ont., with the recent re-discovery of what could be the Colonial Cup.

Trophy was won by three Thunder Bay teams in the 1990s

Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame executive director holds a trophy that may be the Colonial Cup, which was donated to the hall after being found in a home in Thunder Bay, Ont. (CBC News)

A hockey history mystery is unfolding in Thunder Bay, Ont., with the recent re-discovery of what could be the Colonial Cup.

But there is some uncertainty about the beat-up trophy, which has been donated to the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.

"We are going to do a bit more research on it," said Diane Imrie, the hall of fame's executive director. "Obviously, when we display artifacts, we like to tell the story of it, so I'll be talking to some of the members of the teams."

Thunder Hawks, Senators among Colonial Cup champs

The Colonial Cup was the championship trophy awarded by the minor-professional Colonial Hockey League. The league's inaugural season was 1991/1992, and the league was renamed the United Hockey League after the 1996/1997 season. A different trophy, the Turner Cup, was awarded after that.

During the Colonial League days, the Colonial Cup was won by Thunder Bay teams three times: the Thunder Hawks won it during the 1991/1992 season, and the Senators in the 1993/1994 and 1994/1995 seasons.

It's fitting, then, that the trophy was recently found in the home of the late Andy Morrow, who, Imrie said, was a board member of both the Thunder Hawks and Senators.

"A gentleman by the name of Dan Cheal from Junk Away had been asked by the family of [Morrow] to just go into his house and do some cleaning up," Imrie said of how the trophy was found.

A trophy labelled Colonial Cup was recently donated to the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in Thunder Bay, Ont. Hall staff are currently doing research on the trophy. (CBC News)

"I give him great credit," she said of Cheal. "He had indicated that actually he'd had some offers [from] some people to buy it, and he said 'no, I'm going to donate it.' So that was wonderful on his part."

However, there is some question as to what, exactly, the discovered trophy is. It doesn't include any team or player name engravings; only Colonial Cup and the Colonial League logo appear on it.

Further, it's much smaller than the images of the Colonial Cup as captured in local media when Thunder Bay teams won it. Imrie said that could simply be due to the fact that it's the 1992 trophy, which was given to the Senators and never engraved.

Could be a 'takeaway trophy'

But Imrie has another idea, as well.

"We're now wondering if this was the takeaway trophy, if you will, for the team that won it," she said. "Sometimes, what happens is they have the major trophy, which the team name is inscribed on, and then the team is given a copy, if you will, for them to keep."

Anyone with information about the Colonial Cup is asked to contact the hall of fame.