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Hall of Famers

Hall of Famer


Inducted in 2022

Member Details

Sport: Ice Hockey
Member Category: Trailblazer

Career Highlights

1935, 1937, 1938, 1939
Lady Bessborough Trophy as Dominion Champions
Inducted into Cambridge Sports Hall of Fame
The team was designated an event of national historic significance by the Federal Government


Blazing fast and fearless “Queens of the Ice,” the Preston Rivulettes are celebrated today as the most successful women’s ice hockey team in the history of Canadian sport. Hailing from the small town of Preston, Ontario, the Rivulettes dominated women’s ice hockey in Canada during the 1930’s, claiming ten provincial titles in Ontario, five Eastern Canadian Championships and four national titles between 1931 and 1940. Winning over 95 percent of the games they played, their record is paralleled in Canadian sport only by the Edmonton Grads Women’s Basketball Team.

The Preston Rivulettes were founded by sisters Hilda and Nellie Ranscombe and Marm and Helen Schmuck, amateur athletes who played softball together on a local team before fatefully deciding to take up ice hockey as a way to keep active during the winter. The first iteration of the Rivulettes included several women who had never played ice hockey before, and the team struggled to find a coach and ultimately they convinced local arena manager Herb Fach to take the job. Once the Rivulettes found their groove on the ice, they were truly unstoppable. Playing fast, aggressive ice hockey, the team’s reputation grew quickly and inspired a dedicated fan base.  Regularly playing in front of capacity crowds, the team put their hometown of Preston, Ontario on the map, as their victories were reported in newspapers across the country and in the United States. When the Rivulettes defeated the Winnipeg Eatons to claim their first Lady Bessborough trophy in the Dominion Championship in 1935, they emerged victorious in front of nearly 2,000 wildly cheering fans. Largely because of their sterling reputation for fast skating, skillful play, and sharp shooting, the 1936 Dominion Championship was held at the Montreal Forum, granting women’s ice hockey unprecedented publicity and prestige in Canada at the time.

Hilda Ranscombe was the captain of the team throughout the 1930s.  She was an outstanding hockey player and also a mentor for the women on the team providing coaching, encouragement, and advice on and off the ice. Ruth Dargel recalled many years later: “Hilda took me under her wing showing me some of the finer skills and how to be a professional both on and off the ice. She was our captain and patiently and enthusiastically shared her knowledge and love of the sport.” The Rivulettes were successful because they were skillful and determined, and they inspired each other to push the boundaries of women’s hockey during an era when playing aggressive sport was often not acceptable for women.

The Preston Rivulettes overcame gender-based discrimination in an era when Canadian ice hockey was overwhelmingly dominated by men. Even though many players attended school or worked full-time jobs, evening ice times were typically given to men’s teams, forcing the Rivulettes to practice at odd hours. Additionally, despite the fact that the Rivulettes often drew larger crowds than local men’s teams they were often forced to make last-minute scheduling changes to accommodate men’s games. The Great Depression compounded these frustrations, as funding was scarce and more than once the Rivulettes and opposing teams had to default titles when they could not afford to travel. The team disbanded following the outbreak of the Second World War, bringing a remarkable era of women’s ice hockey in Canada to a close. It’s impossible to say how many girls and women were inspired to get off the bench and follow the trail blazed by the ascendant Rivulettes in the 1930s.

In 2017 the team was designated an event of National Historic significance by the Federal Government, belatedly honouring their nearly unmatched record of excellence and the bright path they cleared for others to follow as they pushed the boundaries of women’s ice hockey in Canada to such dazzling new heights. The Rivulettes are Canadian ice hockey legends who served as inspirations for the girls and women ice hockey players who followed in their footsteps.

Team Members: Eleanor 'Nellie' Ranscombe, Grace 'Toddy' Webb, Margaret Gabbitass (Tipper), Helen Schmuck, Marm Schmuck, Hilda Ranscombe, Pat Marriott, Winnie Makcrow, Sheila Lahey, Helen Sault (Carter), Violet Hall, Ruth Dargel (Collins), Elvis Williams, Norma Hipel (Jacques), Gladys Marguerite Hawkins (Pitcher), Dot Raffey, M. Neath, P. Soehner, Fay Hilborn, Eleanor Fairgrieves, Midge Robertson, Myrtle Parr, Marie Beilstein