The NAHL: Dr. Edmund “Eddie” Burke Nagle

Saskatoon’s adopted, Dr. Edmund Burke Nagle, dedicated himself equally to dentistry and amateur sports, especially hockey. Born in Almonte, Canada, Eddie, as he’d become to be known, played football and hockey at St. Joseph High School in the early-1900s. However, it was in college where his athletic talents rose to fame.

Starting in November, 1910, Eddie enrolled in Ottawa College with newspapers declaring his right half-back position. However, he also continued to play the seven-man hockey. He starred at center and learned under Father Stanton. Additionally, he played alongside Dr. Francis Charles “Dink” Madden with whom he’d become fast friends.

Prior to Eddie’s graduation, he traveled to Battleford, Saskatechewan for part of the 1913/14 season. Battleford desired a Senior A hockey team. Eddie only played for the one season and returned to Ottawa. Although he’d travel to play in other locales, like Dunnville, those brief months in Battleford must have made an impression.

After graduating in 1915, he waited or took a break. He continued to play amateur sports with the Ottawa Club. In Fall 1915, he injured his foot playing football, which may have required an operation. The injury possibly caused him to change his mind on professional hockey. However, the discussions between the Aberdeens (Amateur) and Coach Alfred Smith of the professional Ottawa Senators. Or, may be, it was conversations with his long time friend, Dink Madden.

In 1915, the newspapers expected Eddie to attend McGill University like his friend Dink. Instead, Eddie spent the year wandering from 1915 until 1916. During this time, he managed the Aberdeen’s amateur hockey team. Also, he played amateur sports with Dink Madden. In November 1916, Eddie and Dink surprised Ottawa by moving to Pittsburgh.

Eddie and Dink attended University of Pittsburgh to study Dentistry. They played hockey with the city’s famous Pittsburgh All-Stars, or YellowJackets. During the 1917/18 season, they also played in the National Amateur Hockey League with the All-Stars. In May 1918, they received their draft notice from Canada. Unlike four of their colleagues who joined the U.S. Army, Eddie and Dink traveled back to Canada to enlist. They chose to take a commission in the Royal Navy as Surgeon Probationers.

Eddie reunited with Dink in Pittsburgh in 1919 in time for school and hockey season. They continued to play with the All-Stars. After hockey, war and other events, Eddie and Dink graduated as dentists in June 1920.

Eddie and Dink had at least one last adventure together. Dink traveled to Ottawa to be witness for Eddie’s marriage. On July 14, 1920, Eddie married Kathleen Shamon. While Dink returned to Pittsburgh, Eddie and Kathleen moved back to Saskatoon and Battleford.

After starting up his practice, Eddie remained active in amateur sports, especially hockey. He played into his final years of life for the School for the Deaf. Additionally, he became renowned in trapshooting. He and Kathleen loved travel. On a cruise ship near San Fransisco, Dr. Edmund Nagle passed away on June 24, 1966. Eddie Nagle left behind a legacy of sports, dedication and community.

St. Joseph Church History
CEF Enlistment Paperwork, Library and Archives Canada
UK Naval List, July 1919
Marriage Certificate, Courtesy of (paid account required)
School for the Deaf, University of Saskatchewan
Dr. Nagle’s Obituary, Star-Phoenix (Saskatoon) courtesy of
Montreal Gazette
Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa Journal
Saskatoon Daily Star
Star-Phoenix (Saskatoon)
Pittsburgh Press

Interlude: CEF Goes to Hockey

While both Canada and United Sates militaries participated in sports before and after WWI, their participation in hockey did not emerge until recruitment impacted the amateur hockey world.

When the war started in August 1914, the Canadian military needed to modernize overnight, including raising a force. In 1914, Canada was in recession and unemployment was high. Additionally, patriotism surged amongst the general populace. As a result, there was a large willing and available manpower pool to resource units.

While notable hockey players trickled into CEF units between August, 1914 and August, 1915, a shocker came when the entire Selkirk hockey joined the 61st Battalion in September, 1915. However, this wasn’t reason why the CEF jumped into amateur hockey. It was the reason why it took off.

Richard Holt lays out how the CEF built units. In general, once a unit was authorized (or sponsored in the case of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry), recruiting would happen locally. The unit would also stay in garrison until initial training was complete, which was usually four months. Sports provided an outlet for those waiting for their unit to reach full strength. So, it wasn’t that the 61st waited  for hockey; hockey forced itself on to the 61st.

With the Selkirk team on hand, the 61st had a strong team and the Winnipeg leagues were voted to be playing for the Allan Cup. In the teens and twenties, the Allan Cup was possibly more popular than the Stanley Cup. One reason was that amateur hockey was more popular than professional hockey. And, The Allan Cup was for Amateurs only. As soon as newspapers reported on the 61st Battalion’s entrance to amateur hockey, other units submitted their application, including the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), the 40th Battery (Conn Smythe’s unit), the 94th Battalion (Thunder Bay) and many others. At least 24 CEF units participated in various amateur hockey leagues for the 1915-1916 season. (Note: a table of units is below.)

The 61st Battalion won the Allan Cup and defended the title throughout the 1916 season. In April, the 61st Battalion was declared the champions and shipped off to war. In addition to the 61st Battalion in the senior league, the 61st’s intermediate team won their league’s championship and the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadian) won the Winnipeg Central Hockey Associations’ championship title. These successes on the ice led to increased CEF participation in hockey, which led to the creation of the Military Hockey League for 1916-1917.

Nearly every CEF unit participated in the 1916-1917 season. Most (in)famously, the 228th under the McNamara brothers attempted to repeat the 61st’s success, except in the N.H.A. However, scandals and a strict adherence to deployment schedules interrupted the 228th’s chance. By 1918, the United States military supported hockey teams. Thomas “Tom” Howard Jr and John “Jack” Howard played for several U.S. Navy teams.

With the popularity of hockey in the late-teens, a lingering question remains on if the military recruited hockey players for hockey (promote support or recruitment) or war. The 228th supposedly offered Eddie Oatman $1200 to play hockey, but was unceremoniously dismissed two days prior to the 228th leaving for the front. Oatman claimed to have never been enlisted or properly enlisted. In contrast, the Howard brothers joined the Naval Reserve in 1917. Tom Jr. was passed from Newport Naval Yard to Charleston Naval Yard solely for hockey. In regards to the CEF, J.J. Wilson suggests that the CEF targeted hockey players for recruitment. While Wilson’s reasons may be contentious, it is clear the CEF appealed to hockey players to join. Captain  James Sutherland wrote an open letter and closed with the words “The whistle has sounded. Let every man play ‘the greatest game of his life’.”

Fri, Dec 31, 1915 – 12 · The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) ·

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Interlude: The Army Plays as Pros

In Canada and the United States, several military units created hockey teams. Most of these either played in a special military league or affiliated with an amateur league for cross-league play. However, one unit, the Toronto 228th Battalion, applied for a National Hockey Association franchise. The 228th became the first, and possibly the last, military unit with a professional sports team.

The 228th applied for franchise in September 1916 for winter 1917. At the time, hockey seasons ran from late December until March. The 228th was granted status in the NHA for the 1916-1917 season. But, this wasn’t without controversy.

Many of the players for the 228th, Northern Fusiliers, came from another NHA entity, the Torontos, aka Toronto Blueshirts. The 228th, being based in Toronto, received many of the Torontos players when they enlisted. Even before the season started the Torontos’ owner, Eddie Livingstone, filed grievances with the NHA over players. The NHA ultimately decided in favor of the 228th.

The 228th had a star-studded cast of professionals. Some went on to serve bravely. George and Howard McNamara were known as the “Dynamite Twins”. While known as powerful men on the ice, they served in the Canadian Railway Troops (CRT) in France and rose to the rank of Major. George “Goldie” Prodgers rose to Company Sergeant Major with the 6th CRT. A few were embroiled in as much turmoil as the 228th.

Gordon Meeking and Eddie Oatman created as much controversy as the 228th entering into professional sports. Gordon Meeking was more unlucky than anything else. He entered with the 228th on September, 1916; only to be discharged on February 10, 1917. It wasn’t the end of his military career. He was drafted under the Military Service Act in late 1917. Finally, Meeking was discharged as medically unfit in 1918. During his brief break in service, the NHA and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) bickered over whether to allow Meeking and Oatman to play.

Unlike Meeking, Eddie Oatman caused his own trouble. He started by publicly claiming he never was in the 228th. Furthermore, he claimed that the 228th owed him $800, assuming CAD, as a professional hockey player. Additionally, Livingstone claimed to have proof that Oatman was never in the 228th. Thankfully, Oatman’s service record is available from the Library and Archives Canada. He signed his attestation papers on November 1. Subsequently, he was discharged on February 10, 1917 as “not likely to become an efficient soldier”. Therefore, It is not clear, at this time, what was presented to the NHA regarding Oatman’s time with the 228th.

Meeking and Oatman represent the most public cases of the hockey players turned soldiers who left behind. NHA chose not to ban them from hockey. They were playing with the PCHA by December. However, it is not clear if the ban would have been effective. The PCHA was a separate league. Second, the NHA was collapsing and about to be replaced by the NHL.

As it transitioned overseas, the 228th broke up. This was part of the odd system of reinforcement. The major hockey players seemed to have been assigned to the Railway Troops in theater. Unfortunately, time wasn’t available to verify the full team roster or player aftermath. The McNamaras lived a long life with George passing away in 1952. But, the 228th’s transition also was a portent of NHL’s tumultuous start.

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Interlude: Hockey Goes to War

While I’m chasing down information related to CMPC locations, personnel and operations, I ran across an interesting topic Hockey and the Canadian military. The trigger was statement lamenting the inability to play hockey in the rear areas of the Great War. Unfortunately, I’ve seem to have lost the reference. However, I’ve found some other interesting articles about hockey, Canada,and WWI.

For Canada, many hockey players entered the ranks of the Canadian military. So much so, Canada created the “Memorial Cup” to remember those who served. The “Memorial Cup” is awarded to the junior hockey champions in the Canadian Hockey League.

Hockey is so integral to Canadians that the 148th Battalion ran two recruiting posters featuring hockey. (NOTE: I have no statistics to determine the success of the posters.) Additionally, Canadians played hockey while interned in Switzerland.

Finally, as Canada was dismantling from WWI, the Royal Military College requested 2000 (CAD) to refit two aviation hangers for hockey. The Privy Council issued Order of Council 1919-2040 to authorize it.

There is more to this story. JJ Wilson, CBC, and others have delved into greater detail. Canada’s Veterans Affairs even created a lesson plan to raise awareness on the close relationship between Hockey, the Canadian military and remembering those hockey players who’ve died in the line of duty.

3. JJ Wilson (2007) Skating to Armageddon: Canada, Hockey and the First World War, The International Journal of the History of Sport, 22:3, 315-343, DOI: 10.1080/09523360500048746
4. List of Recruiting Posters:
5. Order of Council 1919-2040:
6. Image of Canadian hockey team, Switzerland 1917:

Additional Sources:
2. 148th Battalion Recruitig poster:
3. 148th Battalion Recruitig poster:

Canadian Military Police Corps: A quick overview

In the previous post, I highlighted my fascination with the Canadian Military Police Corps (CMPC). Based upon my initial research, many timelines for Canadian police entities converge with the creation of the CMPC in September, 1917. This research found some of the converging police units included: Dominion Police Force (1868-1920), North West Mounted Police (or Royal North West Mounted Police) (1873 – 1920) and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) (1939 – Current), Canadian Provost Corps (1940 – 1968) and modern military police units, like the 3rd Military Police Regiment (Halifax).

Retired Sgt-Maj Don Tresham thoroughly researched the history of the Canadian Provost Corps, to include the CMPC (source #3). He identified that the first Provost Marshal was LtCol Gibson Godson, who became promoted to Col. He was wounded and a medical board found him unfit for front line service in 1915. By April 12, 1917, he appears to have been appointed “Provost Marshall”. Since the CMPC was created in September, I need to do more research on the role of the Provost Marshall between April and September, when the CMPC was authorized. Col Godson held the position until discharge in 1920, when the CMPC was also disbanded.

The CMPC was headed by Major Baron Osborne, who reported to Provost Marshall Col Godson. Maj Osborne was also the commandant of the CMPC school in Rockcliffe camp from June 1, 1918, which closed on March 11, 1919. Major Osborne was demobilized on July 31, 1919, which is nearly a year before the final CMPC units demobilized in 1920.

The CMPC was split into two types, civilian and military.  Some of the civilian police forces included the Dominion Police Force and the RNWMP. It is these civilian CMPC forces that become the world-famous RCMP.  Whereas military police units link themselves to the CMPC through the Provost Corps. I can’t wait to build out a timeline graphic.

The CMPC’s primary duty was ” to maintain discipline, enforce the Conscription Act, and apprehend deserters and draft evaders.” (Source #6) This is really important when considering the Military Service Act of 1917. Sir Robert Borden promised an army that basically couldn’t be fielded, as I currently understand it. Eventually, Borden had to turn to conscription, which was manifest in the Military Service Act of 1917. Most of the frontline discipline was handled in accordance with British rules. However, it would interesting to find out what happened in New York City!

As Ret. Sgt-Maj Tresham highlighted, there was a third section of the CMPC, the Special Guard. According to Tresham’s research, the CMPC Special Guard focused on escorting Chinese workers to west coast ports in order to ship them back to China. This alludes to some very interesting racial/ethnic tensions. Richard Holt paints a more even balanced picture of racial issues in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (C.E.F.). Sadly, Tresham’s history appears to be collaborated by Guoqi Xu in “Strangers on the Western Front”. It looks like there might be more research into the Canadian Transport Program and the CMPC Special Guard.

Clearly, there are a lot of interesting little nuggets to continue to research. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to fully validate and cross-reference the sources, especially since I used wikipedia links. Double checking the reference material will help me narrow research. Regardless, I’m hoping you’ve enjoyed this quick overview of the CMPC.

1. Canadian General Military Orders 93 & 94:
2. Dominion Police History:
3. Tresham’s history on Canadian Provost Corps:
4. North-West Police:
5. Canadian Provost Corps:
6. 3rd MP Regiment:
7. Col Godson, Gibson:
8. Major Osborne, Baron:
9. Conscription Crisis 1917:
10. Military Service Act 1917:
11. WWI courtsmarshall:
12. Strangers on the Western Front:

Additional Sources:
4. Richard Holt, Filling the Ranks :
5. Canada WWI Pardons:

Canada’s Aid to the Allies in WWI

The spark of inspiration started out as a way to thank someone for their hospitality on my last year’s trip to Canada. As it turned out, I really started to enjoy working on it and finding out the stories behind some photos from a special edition print “Canada’s Aid to the Allies and Peace Memorial” by Montreal Standard Publishing Company (1919).

I own four pages of the publication. Some pages contain memorial rolls purchased by businesses and manufacturers. A couple of pages contain full page images of important figures, like Joseph Joffre. However, these are the back pages to two two-page spread articles on Canada’s Depot camps, Rockcliffe (Ottawa) and Sussex (New Brunswick).

During WWI, Canada utilized a system of Depot camps for initial training of the force. Each depot had some specialty training or aspects. For example, the Rockcliffe Depot trained military police. The articles highlighted the men who trained and prepared the recruits to fight.

Each article contains an image spanning the entire camp’s compliment of troops, to include recruits. However, the size and placement of the image depended upon the activities of the Camp and probably the camp’s commandant. The Sussex Camp article contains multiple spread images because they only trained in the basics. The Rockcliffe Camp article doesn’t contain any two-page images due to the number of training activities that happened at Rockcliffe. By far, the Rcokcliffe is most interesting to me.

There are a few really good resources that I’m using. First, the forum led me to great finds such as the Canadian Virtual War Memorial. The second resource is the book “Filling the Ranks: Manpower in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1918” by Richard Holt, which I learned about from the CEF Research forum. Finally, there is the Sussex Camp and 8th Canadian Hussars museums, but I haven’t had time to explore these, yet.

I’ve just started my journey. The primary focus, of which, is the Canadian Military Police from 1917 to 1920. Additionally, I’m very interested in the training and force reinforcement pipelines, which Holt’s work is the foundation for modern research. The Rockcliffe article gave me the MP’s commandant, Major Baron Osborne. And, there’s a short history of the Canadian MP on The additional exploration on the people shown in the photographs revealed many interesting tales to be discovered. So, I hope you look forward to the discovery process.

1. CEF Study Group:
2.  Filling the Ranks by Richard Holt:
3. Sussex  Camp Museum:
4. MP Museum:
5. Major Baron Osborne military record: