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Evelyn Gibbons, Bell Island
Evelyn Gibbons, 2004

Evelyn Gibbons was born on May 5 1922 on Bell Island, Newfoundland, daughter of Catherine (Bowdring) and James Connors, payroll clerk with the Dominion Steel and Coal Corporation (DOSCO). She was educated at St. Edward’s Convent and at St. Clare’s Nursing School. She married Timothy Gibbons in 1946 and had five children.

Evelyn Gibbons played defense for the Bell Island Hockey League from 1938 to 1939. She was introduced to hockey by her brothers, in the backyard rink. Her father, Jim Connors, played hockey and soccer while attending St. Bonaventure’s College. Connors was a founder of Bell Island hockey and coached the Bell Island team. Evelyn tried out for the team while still a schoolgirl; her teammates were already eighteen or nineteen years old and in the workforce. The League had between fifteen and twenty players, divided into two teams: the “Front” and the “Mines.” From these players, an “all-star” team was selected, to represent Bell Island against other leagues and communities.

The League travelled to St. John’s to compete at the Prince’s Rink. Sometimes, teams came to Bell Island from St. John’s and Brigus, accompanying men’s teams.

Evelyn Gibbons and her teammates wore navy blue tunics and green sweaters. There were no helmets or other protective equipment worn. Checking was kept to a minimum, and there were few injuries.

Mrs. Gibbons recalled that the male players were supportive of the League’s efforts, and loaned the women their equipment. The League enjoyed a good audience; as many as two hundred spectators attended their games. The games were played in the local covered arena, with a natural ice surface. If the weather was mild, only the senior mens’ team were given ice time, to preserve the ice. During practices, men would often skated with the women and offered advice.


Audio "Perils of Winter Travel"
Audio "It Wasn't a Uniform As Such"
Audio "Don't Break the Ice"

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