In reality, the CJHL received its start in 1970 when the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and Western Canada Hockey League tore away from the major branches of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association and became its own governing body (what would become the Canadian Hockey League). These "Major Junior" Leagues only competed against each other and did not include other Junior "A" leagues that were left behind. The Major Junior League also were permitted to exclusively compete for the Memorial Cup, a right given to all Junior "A" leagues prior to 1970.
In May 1970, Frank McKinnon tabled a motion at the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association AGM to allow the remaining Junior "A" Leagues to compete at a national level for a national championship. The motion was granted and McKinnon and the Manitoba Amateur Hockey Association donated the Manitoba Centennial Trophy to the new championship in honour of 100 years of ice hockey in Manitoba. The leagues that would be involved in that first year were the British Columbia Junior Hockey League (BCJHL), Alberta Junior Hockey League, Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), Thunder Bay Junior A Hockey League (TBJHL), Southern Ontario Junior A Hockey League (SOJHL), Central Junior A Hockey League (CenJHL), Northern Ontario Junior Hockey Association (NOJHA), Maritime Junior Hockey League (MarJHL), and New Brunswick Junior Hockey League (NBJHL).
Some of these leagues formed a formal precursor to the CJHL in 1990 that would be known as the Canada West Association. This organization would be the catalyst for the creation of the Canadian Junior A Hockey League in 1993. In 2008, the league was rebranded the "Canadian Junior Hockey League".
Leagues that have been involved in the CAHA Junior "A" playoff structure have been: the Pacific Coast Junior Hockey League (PCJHL), the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League (RMJHL), KJHL, the Thunder Bay Junior Hockey League (TBJHL), SOJHL, the Metro Junior A Hockey League (MetJHL), and the PEIJHL. Also, a single team from the United States Hockey League known as the Thunder Bay Flyers, which originated in the TBJHL, played sporadically in the National structure between 1984 and 1995.
To determine a Grand Champion, the winners of each league playdown in four regional championships -- the Fred Page Cup, the Dudley Hewitt Cup, the Anavet Cup, and the Doyle Cup. The winners of the four regionals playoff with a host city for the Royal Bank Cup to determine the National Champion.
The British Columbia Hockey League withdrew from the CJHL effective the end of the 2020-21 playing season.
Former member leagues
- British Columbia Hockey League (withdrew after 2020-21 season)
- Can-Am Junior Hockey League
- Central Junior A Hockey League now CCHL
- Eastern Junior Hockey League (1974-1978)
- Island Junior Hockey League
- Maritime Junior Hockey League
- Metro Junior A Hockey League
- New Brunswick Junior Hockey League
- NorMan Junior Hockey League
- Northern Ontario Junior Hockey Association
- Ontario Junior Hockey League
- Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League (1972-1987)
- Pacific Coast Junior Hockey League
- Quebec Junior A Hockey League
- Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League
- St. John's Junior Hockey League
- Southern Ontario Junior A Hockey League
- Thunder Bay Junior A Hockey League
- West Coast Junior Hockey League
- Centennial Cup
- Doyle Cup
- Anavet Cup
- Dudley Hewitt Cup
- Fred Page Cup
- CJHL All-Star Game
- World Junior A Challenge
CJHL Prospects Game
The CJHL Prospects Game was created to showcase the top 40 NHL draft eligible players in the Canadian Junior Hockey League. Player selection is a joint initiative of the CJHL and NHL Central Scouting. Team East and Team West each consist of two goaltenders, six defensemen and 12 forwards.
The CJHL Prospects Game sees players from the CJHL's five Western leagues, the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), Manitoba Hockey League (MJHL) and the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL) compete against the best players from the CJHL'S Eastern leagues, the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL), Ontario Junior A Hockey League (OJAHL), Central Canadian Hockey League (CCHL), Central Junior Hockey League (CJHL), Ligue de Hockey Junior AAA du Quebec (LHJAAAQ), and the Maritime Junior A Hockey League (MJAHL).
- 2010 CJHL Prospects Series
- 2009 CJHL Prospects Series
- 2008 CJHL Prospects Game
- 2007 CJAHL Prospects Game
- 2006 CJAHL Prospects Game
- 2005 CJAHL Prospects Game
The recovery of the lost history of the Junior A system in Canada has taken years and countless hours of research, dozens of newspaper, and the contact of multiple statisticians. When I, Devan Mighton, began researching hockey in 2006, I was shocked by the lack of research and lack of effort in preserving the history of Amateur hockey in not only Ontario, but across Canada. The people below have made massive contributions, either directly or not directly, to my goal of rebuilding the history of Junior A hockey in Canada.
People of note in this project:
- Dave Clamen (Researcher)
- Devan Mighton (Researcher)
- Paul C. Beugeling (Researcher, BCHL and Vernon Vipers) - http://vernonjrahockey.ca/
- Al McGimpsey (Researcher, MJHL and Manitoba)
- Marty Knack (Researcher)
- David Harrison (NOJHL Statistician)
- Ralph Slate (Researcher) - http://www.hockeydb.com/
- Paul Wilkinson (OPJHL Statistician)
- Penny McEwen (SJHL Statistician)
- The AJHL (Providing their own stats online)
- List of Canadian Junior Hockey League Season summaries
- List of Canadian Junior Hockey League team names
- List of Canadian Junior A Seasons
- List of NHL Draft Picks taken from Canadian Junior A
- List of WHA Draft Picks taken from Canadian Junior A
- List of Ontario Junior A Seasons
- CJHL Player of the Year Award
- Roland Mercier Trophy