The Ontario Hockey Association is the governing body for the majority of Junior and Senior level ice hockey teams in the Province of Ontario. The OHA is sanctioned by the Ontario Hockey Federation along with the Northern Ontario Hockey Association. Other Ontario sanctioning bodies along with the OHF include the Ottawa District Hockey Association and Hockey Northwestern Ontario. The OHA is composed of 4 major tiers of Junior hockey controlled by the OHA: Junior "A", Junior "B", Junior "C", and Junior Development. The OHA also controls one senior hockey league, Major League Hockey.
In 1980, the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League vacated what was known as Tier I Junior "A" hockey. The league is now known as the Ontario Hockey League. Although it is not a charter member of the OHA, the OHL is affiliated with the OHA and Ontario Hockey Federation.
The OHA was founded in 1890 to govern amateur ice hockey play in Ontario. This was the idea of Arthur Stanley, son of Lord Stanley, the Governor-General. Arthur played for the Ottawa 'Rideau Rebels' and in the course of exhibition play against other teams in Ontario, convinced team officials to hold a meeting in November 1890 to discuss the idea. So, on November 27, 1890 at the Queen's Hotel in Toronto, delegates from hockey clubs around Ontario formed the Ontario Hockey Association.
The first executive was:
At first, the OHA had one league of senior men's hockey teams. This group included teams from Ottawa, Kingston, Toronto, and London. For the first three years, this group would play a series of elmination playoffs leading to a single-game final playoff. For the first three years the Ottawa Hockey Club was the champions, winners of the Cosby Cup. In 1894, the Ottawa team and the Association came to a disagreement over the venue of the finals, and Ottawa left the league. This was a schism that would lead to the forming of the Ottawa District Hockey Association, governing most of eastern Ontario ice hockey play.
From 1893-1908, teams from the OHA could and did challenge for the Stanley Cup, including:
As senior-level play became professional, Stanley Cup challenges would become impossible for amateur teams to win. After the introduction of the Allan Cup in 1908, clubs from the OHA would compete for that instead. The Ontario Professional Hockey League was formed in 1908 for senior-level men's pro hockey teams in Ontario, which would continue to challenge for the Stanley Cup. The senior-level men's league of the OHA is today composed of the 6 teams of Major League Hockey.
In 1892, the junior-level was introduced for play at a lower level. It was not age-limited to young men under the age of 20 until 1896, when the OHA introduced the 'intermediate'-level play bracket. In 1919, the Memorial Cup was introduced, first called the 'OHA Memorial Cup', and was first won by University of Toronto Schools (UTS). It was to be the national championship trophy for junior-level play.
The top-level of junior men's ice hockey would be under the governance of the OHA until 1980, when the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) was formed as a separate organization under Hockey Canada. The OHL took over as the body eligible for Memorial Cup tournament play, and later became part of the Canadian Hockey League junior league.
The OHA continues to be the governing body for several ice hockey leagues in senior and junior within its jurisdictional borders.
In 1897, intermediate level was introduced. This was to organize teams of a lower standard than the seniors.
The first champions were Berlin, defeating the Frontenacs 3-0.
The classification was abolished in 1983 by the OHA. The top league, Major Intermediate A Hockey League was divided between the OHA Senior A Hockey League and the various Senior B leagues. Nowadays, the OHA's Rule Handbook refers to what used to be the Intermediate A level as Senior AA, Intermediate B as Senior A, Intermediate C as Senior B, and the Intermediate D loop as Senior C. The champions for each classification is listed in the OHA Rule Handbook except for Senior C, although its trophy name is listed.
The trophy emblematic of Canadian Intermediate Hockey supremacy was the Hardy Cup. Only three teams from Ontario ever won the Hardy Cup (that ran from 1968-1990), two from the OHA: Georgetown Raiders in 1982 and Dundas Real McCoys in 1986. The third Ontario team was the Embrun Panthers of the Ottawa District Hockey Association.
Empowered by Hockey Canada, the Ontario Hockey Association governs all Ontario senior and junior hockey not administered by Hockey Northwestern Ontario, Ottawa District Hockey Association, or Northern Ontario Hockey Association. This does not include the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League or Western Ontario Athletic Association (at the Senior level), which are run outside of Hockey Canada's jurisdiction and are not affiliated.
The Ottawa District represents the part of Ontario East of and including Lanark County, Renfrew County, and Leeds County, but not including the town of Gananoque. Hockey Northwestern Ontario has control of the section of Northwestern Ontario west of the 85th meridian.
Please note: the Ontario Hockey League is not a member of the Ontario Hockey Association, but does carry a working relationship with it.