Muddy, me and the Dunnville Mudcats By Dave Green

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Submitted photo: The original six hockey team from Dunnville included (front l-r) Jimmy “Fagan” Green, Milo Gillap, Marcene “Seeney” Green, Bert Gillap, (back left) Billy Green and (far right) James “Beetler” Green, led by (middle) manager Guy Ramsey.

The Dunnville Mudcat logo didn’t come into existence until 1914. Pre-cat history of 1908 suggests that the NHL isn’t the only original six-hockey organization. The 1908 original six hockey team from Dunnville played out of the brand new Canal Street Arena on the banks of the filled-in Feeder Canal at the end of Oak Street South of where The Donut Diner is today.

Businessman Mr. Milo Gillap built the Canal Street Arena in 1907. This was the era of when six men made a hockey team, and the stand up goaltender was not allowed to sprawl to the ice to make a puck stop. Dunnville’s own first original team consisted of six cousins of the Green and Gillap families including Jimmy “Fagan” Green, Milo Gillap, Marcene “Seeney” Green, Bert Gillap, Billy Green and James “Beetler” Green, led by manager Guy Ramsey.

In the late 1800s, it seemed natural for sportsmen and farm families living along the shores of the Grand, making a living by working the land, going fishing, hunting and trapping through the spring, summer and fall would adapt to the frozen waters of the Grand River during the Canadian winters. The frozen watery lowland regions of Upper Canada around the Great Lakes of Southern Ontario still had to be ice-fished, hunted and trapped to provide an income and food for the families of the river bank communities. Like the emergence of the skateboard of today as a means of quicker travel, the sportsmen’s intuition was to attach runners to their boots, and the sport of ice-skating evolved. It was no surprise that the game of bandy or shinny on skates, the forerunner to our game of hockey, became a Canadian winter sport pastime of the lowlanders all along the Grand River frozen waterway.

The Canal Street or Alexandra Rink, as it was called in Dunnville, a shelter from the harsh winter winds and storms of Mother Nature, became the early homestead for the first Dunnville Mudcat team of 1914.

The Mudcat mascot or logo actually came into existence from baseball excellence on the sandlots by one of Dunnville’s superb baseball teams of the summer of 1914. The underdog Dunnville stickball (baseball) team handily embarrassed a team of nine from Brantford. The Brantford Daily newspaper sour graped the unexpected outcome, as their Brantford team took a whipping by the lowly Mudcats from the Grand River swamp. The managing editor of our Dunnville Chronicle, Mr. Bill Fry, replied by sending the team a package containing a dozen mudcat from the Dunnville swamp to the Brantford team and its manager.

The team mascot and logo was quickly adopted by Dunnville sports teams of both the winter and summer from 1914 forward. Next summer, it will be 100 years of Mudcat history celebrated with our annual Mudcat Festival – one of the top 100 festivals in Ontario. Such is the importance to Dunnvillites, of our lowly swamp denizen Mr. Muddy, the Mudcat.

Just an ole right winger

By Dave Green, Green Side Up, Thursday, June, 20, 2013 – 11:11:08 AM

The Sackem


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