The Mowat Cup was an annual series between the champions of the BC Hockey League and the Pacific Coast Hockey League and the Rocky Mountain Hockey League to crown a junior A champion in the province. However, the trophy was first donated in 1927 to the BC Amateur Hockey Association by John Mowat of Victoria.
Prior to the BCHL, PCJHL, and RMJHL contesting for the Mowat Cup, it was contested between the Vancouver Amateur Hockey League, West Kootenay Junior Hockey League, and the Victoria City Hockey League, among others.
The first Mowat Cup was awarded in a one-game playoff between Fernie and Ex-King George in Vancouver with Fernie gaining the victory. Fernie earned their berth in the Mowat Cup game by defeating Armstrong 17-1, Salmon Arm 16-4, and Revelstoke 7-1.
The Trail Smoke Eaters of the WKJHL won eight of nine Mowat Cups from 1932-40 with Vancouver Ex-King George of the VAHL breaking the streak in 1935. Trail dominated again in the 1940s winning all the Mowat Cups contested other than the Nanaimo Clippers eking out a victory in 1946.
Trail continued to rack up championships by winning seven more Mowat Cups in the 1950s and two more in the 1960s before the creation of the BC Hockey League.
Pacific Coast Junior Hockey League
In the 1970s, the junior hockey landscape changed with the Memorial Cup being awarded to the new Major Junior ranks while the Centennial Cup was introduced for junior A leagues. The Mowat Cup stayed with BC’s junior A teams and acted as the final step before the Doyle Cup.
The first four Mowat Cups were awarded to the winner of the BC Junior Hockey League, which happened to be four different winners. The Kamloops Rockets won in 1971, the Vernon Essos in 1972, the Penticton Broncos in 1973, and the Kelowna Buckaroos in 1974.
Fred Page got his Pacific Coast Junior Hockey League promoted from junior B to junior A in 1974-75 and the winner of the PCJHL played the winner of the BCJHL in a three games series to claim the Mowat Cup.
The first Mowat Cup between the BCJHL and PCJHL was won by the Bellingham Blazers over the Coquitlam Comets 2-0. Bellingham went on to the Doyle Cup and lost to the Spruce Grove Mets 4-2.
1976 saw the PCJHL win its first Mowat Cup with the Nor Wes Caps defeating the Nanaimo Clippers by default. The Caps went on to play the Spruce Grove Mets in the BC/Alberta Championship and got trounced 4-1.
Nanaimo returned to the Mowat Cup in 1977, losing to Richmond 3-0 as the Sockeyes became the first PCJHL to beat a BCJHL team in the series.
The Sockeyes returned to the Mowat Cup in 1978 but lost to the Merritt Centennials 3-0. Merritt beat the Calgary Canucks 4-2 and moved on to the Abbott Cup to represent the West in the Centennial Cup. The Cents lost 4-1 to the Prince Albert Raiders.
Richmond was the first team to go to the Mowat Cup three years in a row, winning their second title over the Kamloops Rockets 2-1. Just like in 1977, Richmond lost in the BC/Alberta Championship, falling to the Fort Saskatchewan Traders 4-1.
Then Page worked out a merger with the BCJHL in time for the 1979-80 season. The 1980 Mowat Cup was won by the Penticton Knights after winning the BCJHL championship.
Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League
After the merger of the PCJHL into the BCJHL, the Peace-Cariboo Junior Hockey League was established as a junior A league after being promoted from junior B for the 1980-81 season. The first junior A champion was the Prince George Spruce Kings. They played the Penticton Knights for the 1981 Mowat Cup and lost 2-0.
From 1981-89, the Mowat Cup was a three-game series. Prince George went to five Mowat Cups, losing four to the Penticton Knights and one to the Langley Eagles.
The Williams Lake Mustangs advanced to two Mowat Cups but lost to the Abbotsford Flyers in 1983 and Vernon Lakers in 1989. The Quesnel Millionaires competed for the Mowat Cup in 1987 and fell to the Richmond Sockeyes. The Grande Prairie North Stars became the first Alberta-based team to play for the Mowat Cup in 1988 and was defeated by a juggernaut Vernon Lakers squad.
In 1990, the Mowat Cup became a five-game series. Prince George was the last team to represent the PCJHL in the series, losing to the New Westminster Royals in 1990. In 1990-91, the PCJHL became the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League after welcoming several teams from the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
Prince George was once again the inaugural RMJHL champion. The Spruce Kings faced the Vernon Lakers in the 1991 Mowat Cup, losing 3-0. The Kelowna Spartans won back-to-back Mowat Cups over Williams Lake in 1993 and the Kimberley Dynamiters in 1994. The Chilliwack Chiefs won it in 1995 against the Cranbrook Colts.
Cranbrook got to two more Mowat Cups against the South Surrey Eagles in 1997 and 1998, losing both.
The Kimberley Dynamiters became the only team since the BCHL-PCJHL merger to win a game against a BCHL team in 1999. The Nitros beat the Vernon Vipers 7-6 in overtime in game two, but the Snakes won the series 3-1.
The End Of An Era
Following the 1998-99 season, the RMJHL ceased operations, and three main members – the Prince George Spruce Kings, Trail Smoke Eaters, and Quesnel Millionaires – were absorbed by the BCHL.
Chilliwack was the first to win the Mowat Cup after the folding of the RMJHL. The trophy is now awarded to the winner of the Fred Page Cup as BCHL champions because there is no other junior A league in BC.
BC Hockey still recognizes the Mowat Cup in its annual handbook even though the BCHL does not formally award it to the league champion. The Mowat Cup trophy itself sits in the BC Hockey Hall of Fame in Penticton.