Once appointed Governor General of Canada by Queen Victoria in 1888, Lord Frederick Stanley developed an affinity for the native game of ice hockey. Organized ice hockey was still very raw at the time with clubs traveling for competition despite any prominent or definitive championship. At the suggestion of sons Arthur and Algernon, Lord Stanley donated a trophy and bowl to be awarded to the top amateur club in Canada. The champion of the trophy would be determined by challenge, with no team winning permanent possession. It would be transferred from winner to winner after an engraving of the champion club’s name on a silver ring fitted to the cup. The Challenge Cup period was underway, overseen by Sheriff John Sweetland and Philip Ross, who had been appointed the trophy’s trustees.
As the honor of hoisting Stanley’s Cup became more publicized amateur clubs spawned out of municipalities all over Canada. These clubs would battle to hold the trophy until the eventual development in 1915 of a league versus league format. Finally, there would be an indisputable holder of the championship. An agreement was made between the National Hockey Association (NHA) and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) that the best clubs in each group would compete for the title and trophy. The dissolution of these independent leagues into the eventual National Hockey League has resulted in the divisions and clubs that compete for the Stanley Cup today. The honor of hoisting this relic stands as one of the most revered in professional sports today.