Revisit Red Barons’ history in documentary by Kingston producer

The Red Barons, the first women’s hockey team in Kingston, Ontario. Image via LJI.

Lightstruck Film & Media has produced a documentary, The Kingston Red Barons: Born at the Right Time, honouring Kingston’s first all-female hockey team.

David McCallum, the documentary producer, gathered the pioneers and team members of the Red Barons and presented their stories in an hour-long documentary. 

“It is little known nor appreciated just how much this team has changed the face of hockey in Kingston and Canada,” McCallum said. 

In 1969, 19 girls and women connected and formed the first women’s hockey team in Kingston, The Red Barons. Before that, only a few school-level groups existed, and hockey was mostly considered strictly “a boys’ game”, but the Red Barons changed that forever. 

The documentary takes place at different locations while the former Red Baron’s team members share their recollections of their time in the game. It starts with Catherine “Cookie” Cartwright, who, in 1959, was a freshman at Queen’s University and started the intercollegiate hockey team. At the same time, she lobbied Toronto, and Western Universities to form women’s hockey teams at those universities. 

Due to her efforts and persistence, in 1961, intercollegiate women’s hockey was re-established in Ontario for the first time since the Great Depression. 

“Cookie also convinced athletic departments at several other universities to organize intercollegiate hockey competitions for females, starting in the early 1960s,” McCallum said. 

Besides hockey, Cartwright is an established lawyer in Kingston who graduated from the law program at Queens in 1965. She is also a Kingston Sports Hall of Fame inductee. 

The Red Barons were the first all-women hockey team in Kingston. Historically, all women’s games were held in private during the late 1890s, until it was completely shut down after the 1930s for many years.  

“I have felt that this was a story that needed to be more widely known and appreciated at Queen’s,” McCallum said.

Cartwright says that when she joined Queens in 1959, she knew the university played intramural hockey. She then approached the Athletics Director for women at Marion Ross and convinced her to have an intercollegiate hockey team. 

“She [Ross] was a wonderful person, and there I was the first year student telling the director of athletics on what to do,” Cartwright said. 

There were only six sports played at the intercollegiate level, namely swimming, archery, tennis, basketball, volleyball, and badminton. However, the biggest problem at the time was having an ample budget and equipment. Surprisingly, the total budget of women’s athletics in intercollegiate athletics was around $4,000, the exact figure as the cleaning bill for the men’s football team. 

Cartwright shared how Stu Langdon, trainer of the men’s team, who knew Cartwright was pushing so hard for women’s hockey, showed that one of the dressing rooms in the Queen’s arena had this big wooden box, approximately four feet high and ten feet long, and that box was full of hockey equipment from the 1930s. Langdon offered Cartwright that equipment for her team, and once the equipment problem was solved, there was no going back for the Red Barons. 

“I convinced Ms. Ross, and it all came together at the right time,” Cartwright said. 

The Kingston Red Barons: Born at the Right Time was released on Lightstruck’s YouTube account on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. The documentary is informative with the candid views of team members. Today about 800 girls and women currently play organized hockey in Kingston.

View the documentary here:

This article was written by Owen Fullerton as part of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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