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Huskies Team History

The Edmonton Huskies are a Canadian Junior Football team based in Edmonton, Alberta. The Huskies play in the six-team Prairie Football Conference, which itself is part of the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) and competes annually for the national title known as the Canadian Bowl. The Huskies were founded in 1954.

On October 30, 2004 the Huskies beat the Okanagan Sun 24-7 to win the Canadian Bowl. The very next year, the Huskies went on to beat the South Fraser Rams and then the St. Leonard Cougars to again win the national championship. The Huskies also "three-peated" in 1962, 1963 & 1964 winning the Canadian Bowl title back to back.

In 2016 the Huskies began a pilot program the Gender Based Violence Prevention Program (GBVPP) with the University of Alberta a goal of helping young athletes become better people – on and off the field.

The Beginnings

The first recent history of a junior football team in organized play in Edmonton was in 1954 when the Maple Leaf Athletic Club fielded a football team. The South Side Athletic Club was in existence but it is unclear whether they fielded a team at that time. We do know that there was a second team in Edmonton in 1947 called the West End Inter-City Capitals that defeated the Maple Leafs three of the four games played that year but they did not compete for the Alberta Championship. In 1948 The Edmonton Athletic Club replaced the Capitals and kept that name through to 1949, In 1950 they became the Edmonton South Side Athletic Club and the South Side Athletics in 1951. This team officially became the Edmonton Oilers in 1952 and continued on until 1953 and were commonly referred to as “the South Side Oilers”. The cross town rivals were the Maple Leaf Athletic Club who took the name “Wildcats” in 1952. There were two teams in Calgary at that time, the Tornados and the Mustangs.

The 1952 Oilers were not a terrible team. They did come last in a four team league but still managed 2 wins and a tie along with 4 losses. Unfortunately the same could not be said for the 1953 team. It went 0 for 7 in the win department and scored only 28 points while allowing 141 points against. There were many disgruntled supporters on the Strathcona side of the Saskatchewan River. The pressure for change was great.

The Edmonton Huskies came into being officially on April 26, 1954. That was the date of the first organizational meeting of a group of young businessmen and sports enthusiasts who had decided to form a club to replace the struggling Oilers. The 1954 program indicated that the Oilers had been “mauled” by the Maple Leaf Wildcats for the past three years. The biggest “movers and shakers” in establishing the new club were Don McColl and Tom Shymka.

The first President of the Huskies was Charles “Chuck” Henderson. He was quoted at the time as having said “A boy who plays for the Huskie Football Club will not only be well-equipped and coached, but he will be taught how to be a Canadian citizen.” The club at the time had a paid up membership of 250 and a 25 man Board of Directors.

The first coach was Murray Smith, a high school physical education teacher in his first year at Strathcona High School after having taught previously at Devon High School. He had played for the University of Alberta Golden Bears under Dr. Maury Van Vliet. It was Don McColl who approached Murray for the position. Dennis Ellerbeck, another high school physical educator who had played center at McGill University, was his only assistant coach. Monty Ford, who had served as trainer for the South Side Oilers since 1952, continued on in that capacity. Monty had previous experience as trainer of the Edmonton Waterloo Mercurys Hockey Club that won the 1950 World and 1952 Olympic Gold Medals. Ron Downey served as the first General Manager.

Some of the names on that team included Mike Kmech (Edmonton Eskimos 1956 – 62), Leigh McMillan (Eskimos 1955 - 57), Harold Krebs (Eskimos 1956, Montreal Alouettes and Calgary Stampeders after that), John Borger (Calgary Stampeders 1956-57), Bryan Hall (who went on to broadcast the Eskimo Games for the better part of a half century). Miles Palmer Jr., whose father played on the first two Eskimo teams to compete for the Grey Cup (1921-22), shared quarterback duties with Dick McBride on that team.

The Oilers had previously been practicing at the South Side Athletic grounds (now renamed Rollie Miles Field). They had to take their equipment home with them every night as the changing rooms were used by various teams and sports. In 1954 both the Wildcats and the Huskies started the season practicing at the south side athletic grounds, quite often combining practices. Mid way through the season the Wildcats moved to Clarke Stadium. The Huskies moved its operations to King Edward School at 86 Avenue and 101 Street in 1955, changed in the school basement and practiced on the school field. Part way through that year a small grandstand was built at the practice field in Kinsmen Park and there were changing rooms under the grandstand (as there was also a skating rink there in the winter and the changing rooms were used during the winter by the skaters). Operations moved down into the river valley and have remained there ever since. Also in 1955 the first club house (which was previously an electrical shop at the top of the hill) was dragged down to the valley but it sat on blocks for two years. The visionary responsible for the acquisition of the building and its move down to the park was Don McColl. Unfortunately he had neglected to get Board of Directors approval or even inform them in advance. His acquisition resulted in some heated Board meetings and nearly bankrupted the club. The club continued to dress under the stands until a foundation was finally put in place in 1957. The club enjoyed the first of its two clubhouses starting at that time.

Initially the uniforms were blue with white lettering. The current black and gold colours were adopted by the club in 1958. The colours and uniform design were taken from the then powerful US Army football team from West Point.

Unfortunately the Huskies did not start out with a bang. They came last in the Alberta league in their first year of operation going 1-6 that season. The first game the Edmonton Huskies ever won in competition was that year when they defeated the Calgary Mustangs. A solid base both on the field and in the board room, however, had been established. The efforts of that initial year put the club onto a course that would eventually lead to greatness.


Edmonton Huskies (Top Dogs) Head Coaches

Iain Maclean   2013-

Rick Walters   2011-2012

Bill MacDermont   2010

Dalton Smarsh   2008-2009

Beau Mirau   2006-2007

Mike Mclean   2001-2005    (National Champion 2004-2005)

Russ Foster   1999-2000

Greg Andrews   1997-1998

Gary Durchik   1995-1996

Bo Jereniuk   1993-1994

Brent Pope   1991-1992

Norm Brown   1989-1990

Don Barry   1987-1988

Toni Anderson   1986

Brian Dickenson   1981-1985

Larry Tibble   1979-1980

John Belmont   1977-1978

Vic Chmelyk   1972-1976

Tony Rankel   1970-1971

Gary Naylor   1968-1969

Paul Brady   1965-1967

Joe Hutton   1964    (National Champion)

Dennis Kadatz   1961-1963    (National Champion 1962-1963)

Norm Kimball   1959-1960

Murry Smith   1954-1958


Edmonton Huskie Hall of Fame.... (1962-1964) A Salute to Excellence..