Carr-Harris Cup Celebrates Hockey's Oldest Rivalry

The world’s oldest hockey rivalry was renewed again between Queen’s University and RMC on Feb. 7, 2019 but this version of the Carr-Harris Cup was one for the ages on a number of levels.

The game saw a record crowd of 3,888 fans, surpassing the previous high of 3,524 set in 2018.  But the biggest story of the night was the underdog crew from the Royal Military College. RMC was winding down their schedule that had seen just five wins on the year while their counterpart Queen's Gaels had 18 wins and were preparing for another playoff appearance. However, on this particular night at the Leon’s Centre it looked as though those records were reversed as the RMC Paladins cruised to an impressive 5-1 victory over their cross town rivals from Queen’s.  It was the largest margin of victory for the Paladins in the history of the event.

It was a little different back on March 10, 1886 – the day the rivalry started. The two teams waged battle on Kingston’s harbour ice, playing with a square puck carved from a lacrosse ball. Few of the spectators on hand likely had ever heard of hockey or understood its rules. In that historic game, the contest was scoreless until Lennox Irving of Queen’s finally put one past the goalie to give Queen’s a 1-0 victory. 

Back in 1986 – the 100th anniversary of the rivalry – four prominent Kingston hockey aficionados decided that the historic date should be celebrated. Hockey historian Bill Fitsell got together with Bill Hamilton, Stuart Crawford and Ed Grenda and came up with the idea of a challenge cup. With the support of the Original Hockey Hall of Fame, they created a trophy named in honour of the Carr-Harris family. Designed by Kingston artist Joan Belch, it features a statue of Lennox Irving and is called “The Lennie”.

Prof. Robert Harris, the first professor of civil engineering and architecture at RMC in 1879 and later first professor of general engineering at Queen’s, was the family patriarch. He adopted the name Carr-Harris, in honour of his mother Sarah Carr.

Carr-Harris sent eight sons and two nephews to RMC and many to Queen’s. The Carr-Harris name became prominent in railway construction projects, military activities and sporting action around the world, including Kingston, London, Washington and Hong Kong.

Descendants played, coached and managed for teams in the Stanley Cup, Allan Cup and the Olympics. Marguerite Carr-Harris captained one of the first women’s hockey teams at Queen’s.

In addition to the Carr-Harris Trophy, the top player from each team is awarded the Mary Carr-Harris Most Valuable Player Award. This award is in memory of Mary Carr-Harris, the matriarch of the Carr-Harris family, who up until her passing in 2006 annually presented the cup to each year’s winning team. 

Queen’s leads the series 20-11-2. The annual match is next scheduled to be played on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020 at 7 pm  at the Leon's Centre.