Legacy of AJHL’s founder McAdie lives on to this day
If Jim McAdie and the others, including Fred Lupul, that founded the Alberta Jr. Hockey League five decades ago could see it today, they likely would be taken aback by the success of their brainchild.
The AJHL was 0riginally set up in 1962-63 as a five-team league that included teams from Edmonton and Calgary who had two each along with Lethbridge. The teams played a limited schedule that saw only weekend action.
My, how things have changed since then. Today the circuit has grown into a world-class, highly respected 16-team league where each team now plays 60 games, plus pre-season and post-season contests each year.
Speaking on behalf of his grandfather, Rick McAdie said he didn’t think the founders of the new league, designed to give young men the chance to continue playing hockey outside of the then junior A Edmonton Oil Kings organization, had any idea of what it would become.
“I think it was probably just his ongoing passion for hockey,” Rick said of one of the man who was a founding member of Edmonton’s Canadian Athletic Club. “He was involved with the junior league with the Western Movers and it was identified they needed a league to play in.”
Jack Laurie, a man who knew McAdie during their CAC days back in the 1960s, said his friend always had something good in mind when he set out in establishing his vision.
“It was a place for boys to play,” Laurie recalled of the main reasoning behind the league’s launch. “We didn’t have junior B back then. We had juvenile and then it moved up into the junior A.”
As to how he feels his friend would view this league today, Laurie didn’t hesitate in forming a response.
“I think he’d be very proud. His goal was to have enough places for everybody to play. I think it’s likely gone beyond his expectations.”
Another friend of Jim McAdie’s, George McKenzie, said the founder saw a junior league as “an opportunity for young men to keep playing,” once they’d left the juvenile age bracket. “It was an alternative to the old Oil Kings and a number of people across the province thought that here was a tool they could use to provide kids with an opportunity to keep playing and developing. Originally, this was a case of what can we do for the community?” rather than everyone thinking this was a way to make money off this idea, McKenzie ended.
Rick McAdie said he thinks his grandfather likely didn’t look at the long-term scenario of what could possibly happen years down the road when the AJHL scheme was hatched.
“I think it was just a continuation of the work he did with the CAC, to move hockey along, to give kids and young men a place to play.”
Jim McAdie passed away in 1990 but prior to that was inducted into the Alberta Sport Hall of Fame. His memory is honoured to this day by the CAC with a yearly scholarship that is awarded to a deserving young man in their hockey program.
As to what his thoughts would be today of the league that he founded 50 years ago, McAdie’s grandson suggested he’d be happy but he’d also still want to see it continually getting better.
“He had a vision, got the right people together and did some really good things. He was pretty humble and just kept plugging away but I think he’d be proud of the league. He saw value in this and saw huge value in keeping kids active in sport,” and that legacy lasts even to this day.
By Gord Montgomery