Beginning in the spring of 1970, a motion was tabled at the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association annual general meeting in St. John’s, Newfoundland by Frank McKinnon of Manitoba to allow the Junior ‘A’ leagues across the country to compete for a national championship.
This move came about following the three major junior leagues in Canada leaving the CAHA to form what would eventually become the Canadian Hockey League.
McKinnon’s motion was passed and the Manitoba Amateur Hockey Association added to this by donating the Manitoba Centennial Trophy (Centennial Cup), which was to be awarded annually to the Canadian Jr. A champion, in honour of 100 years of hockey in Manitoba.
Over time, numerous other associations and leagues came and went as organizations went on to compete for the Centennial Cup.
As for the CJHL itself, the Canadian Junior ‘A’ Hockey League (CJAHL) as it was named then, was formed during a three-day meeting held in Winnipeg, Man., Nov. 19-21, 1993 .
Delegates at that initial meeting were Patti Adam (Maritime Junior ‘A’ Hockey League); Yvon Lafortune (la Ligue de Hockey Junior A du Quebec); Don Linthwaite (Metro Junior A Hockey League in Ontario); Chris Seguin (Ontario Hockey Federation); Bill and Sharon Mintenko (Thunder Bay Flyers of the United States Hockey League); Frank McKinnon (Manitoba Junior Hockey League); Mike Gilhooly (Manitoba Amateur Hockey Association); Wayne Kartusch (Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League); Marty Knack (Alberta Junior Hockey League); John ‘Bronco’ Horvath (Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League); Fred Page (British Columbia Junior Hockey League) and Ron Boileau (British Columbia Junior Hockey League).
It was determined that there were 118 teams operating within the 11 junior A leagues, plus Thunder Bay, who competed in the United States Hockey Legue.
The CJAHL was formed from the Canada West Association of Junior ‘A’ Hockey which had been operating since 1990.
The Canada West Association included the BCJHL, Peace Cariboo Junior Hockey League in B.C., AJHL, SJHL and MJHL. The CJHL became a member of the Canada West Association in 1991-92.
The goals of the CJAHL were set at that three-day event back in 1993 included:
• Establish a mission statement and constitution
• Obtain development funds from the National Hockey League
• Promote the non-profit society on a national level
• Establish common operational practices for all members;
• Create a good working relationship with the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (Hockey Canada), its branches, minor hockey and its member leagues.
Chairing the initial CJAHL meeting was Ron Boileau.
A logo presented by Mr. Boileau was excepted and following considerable discussion, the CJAHL constitution was approved.
Hockey Hall of Fame honoured member and CAHA life member Fred Page was nominated as the first chairman of the board.
Boileau was acclaimed as theCJAHL’s first president.
Central Junior Hockey League (now CCHL) president Pat Parker was named the eastern vice-president while Wayne Kartusch was acclaimed as the western vice-president and Marty Knack was named the secretary-treasurer.
Other notes from the initial CJAHL AGM included:
• It was decided that CJAHL statistics would be distributed to the media on a weekly basis, with Boileau agreeing to keep the statistics and distribute them to the media, through the league offices.
• A vote of thanks was also extended Ron Boileau for his efforts in founding the league.
• It was determined that the annual general meeting would be held during the final weekend of the Centennial Cup national junior A championship.
• The first CJAHL rankings were issued Dec. 1, 1993 with the Olds Grizzlys (AJHL) were listed first among 15 teams listed, with a 25-2-1 won-lost-tied record and .911 winning percentage.
• Joe Rybar of the Merritt Centennials (BCJHL) was the leading scorer, among 10 listed, with 25 goals, 60 assists and 85 points in 31 games.
• The Orillia Terriers (OHA) boasted the highest winning percentage in the CJAHL in 1993-94 at .913 with a 35-2-3 record. Olds was second at .911, while sporting a 50-4-2 mark.
• Ian Perkins (Olds Grizzlys) was the leading goaltender, based on a minimum of 1,000 minutes, with a 2.50 goals-against average, having seen 2,452 minutes of game action.
• Robb Gordon of the Powell River Paper Kings (BCJHL) was the leading scorer with 69 goals, 89 assists and 158 points in 60 games. Danny Bousquet of the Penticton Panthers (BCJHL) was second with 76 goals, 76 assists and 152 points in 58 contests.
• The 10 leagues across the country that would vie for the Centennial Cup in the 1970-71 season were as follows:
The leagues involved in the first year in the quest for the Centennial Cup:
British Columbia Junior Hockey League (BCJHL)
Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL)
Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL)
Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL)
Southern Ontario Junior A Hockey League (SOJHL)
Thunder Bay Junior A Hockey League (TBJHL)
Central Junior A Hockey League (CJHL)
Northern Ontario Junior Hockey Association (NOJHA)
Maritime Junior A Hockey League (MJAHL)
New Brunswick Junior Hockey League (NBJHL)
• The Newfoundland Amateur Hockey Association joined by allowing their provincial junior champion to compete in the Centennial Cup play-downs, which would last through 1977.
• The MJAHL folded, leaving the defending Dudley-Hewitt Cup-champion Charlottetown Islanders to compete in the Centennial Cup play-downs as an independent.
• Tthe Northern Ontario Junior Hockey Association folded when two of its member clubs, the Sudbury Wolves and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds made the move to the major junior ranks.
• The Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League was created as a rival league to the SOJHL.
• The Quebec Junior A Hockey League was formed.
• The Island Junior Hockey League of Prince Edward Island moved from Junior B to Junior A.
• A second league was founded in British Columbia, in the Pacific Coast Junior Hockey League, which was created to compete with the BCJHL.
• The Peace-Cariboo Junior Hockey League was promoted from Junior B in East-Central B.C.
• The TBJHL folds and were replaced by a single team, the Thunder Bay Kings, who eventually became the two-time Centennial Cup champion Thunder Bay Flyers (1989 & 1992).
• The Eastern Junior A Hockey League jumped to Junior A from Jr. B ranks in Cape Breton Island.
• The Metro Valley Junior Hockey League jumped from Junior B to Junior A in mainland Nova Scotia. However, after one year of playing head-to-head for the provincial Junior A title, the EJHL folded and left the MVJHL as the only Jr. A league in Nova Scotia.
• The SOJHL ceases operations
• The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League was promoted to Jr. A.
• The NorMan Junior Hockey League was promoted to Jr. A in Manitoba.
• The PCJHL absorbed by the BCJHL.
• The QJHL folds.
• The NBJHL ceases operations and merges with the MVJHL.
• NMJHL folds.
• The OPJHL drops to four teams and ends operation
• The Quebec Provincial Junior Hockey League was formed before being renamed the Quebec Junior AAA Hockey League in 1997.
• The Maritime Junior A Hockey League is announced.
• The Canadian Junior A Hockey League is launched with Fred Page named chairman of the board and Ron Boileau as their first president.
• Both the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League and the Metro Junior A Hockey League are formed in southern Ontario before merging in 1998 into the OPJHL.
• The Superior International Junior Hockey League is formed in Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario.
• Paul Lake named CJHL chairman.
• The first-ever CJHL Prospects Game goes in Yorkton, Sask., with Team West prevailing 5-4 over Team East.
• The initial World Junior A Challenge is held in November of that year in Yorkton, Sask., with Canada West defeating Canada East 4-1 in the gold medal game.
• The CJHL introduces a new league logo and messaging initiative at a press conference.
This media event was held in conjunction with the 2008 RBC Cup National Junior A Championship in Cornwall, Ont.
• The Ontario Junior Hockey League is launched.
• The Central Junior A Hockey League became the Central Canada Hockey League.
• Kirk Lamb named first full-time CJHL chairman & president
• Brent Ladds named CJHL president
• Kevin Abrams (CCHL) appointed CJHL chairman
• Robert Mazzuca (NOJHL) appointed CJHL chairman
List of CJHL champions (Centennial Cup & Royal Bank Cup winners)