(Re)Presenting the Orioles:A Historiographical Analysis of Black Hockey History in St. Catharines
The St. Catharines Orioles was the first all-black hockey team in Ontario and played in the Niagara District Hockey League in the 1930s. The history of the Orioles, like many other African-Canadian hockey histories, such as the Coloured Hockey League of the Maritimes (1890s-1920s) has been overlooked, erased, and ignored. This erasure is indicative of broader sociological issues of race and racism as the historic exclusion and (non)remembering of non-white athletes contributes to our understanding of sport history in the present. By neglecting to include athletes of colour in the mainstream history of sport, sports historians are contributing to the whitewashing of Canadian sport history. This study examines how the Orioles have been remembered and forgotten, considers what voices, perspectives, and identities are marginalized or silenced through hockey histories, and asks how historical discourses shape contemporary constructions of race and sport. In this study, I conduct archival research in the 1937-38 St. Catharines Standard to develop a history of the Orioles as it would have been known in the 1930s. With this history, I work from a historiographical perspective to consider how the Orioles have been racialized and excluded from sports history in the present. I analyse two secondary sources, The Sports History of St. Catharines (McNabb & Meighan, 1969) and St. Catharines: Canada’s Canal City (Jackson & Wilson, 1992), as I identify when and how non-white individuals are included in the histories. Noting the omission of black contributions in these texts is relevant as neglecting to include the role of black citizens is an active form of (non)remembering that perpetuates whiteness through exclusion. This research contributes to our understanding of race and sport in the present and seeks to challenge “the enduring myth of Canada’s benign racial history” (Joseph, et. al., 2012, p. 17) that denies the existence of racism in Canada and seeks to address the gap in historical and sport literature that not only lacks a comprehensive history of the Orioles but has consistently pushed black athletes to the periphery of sports history.