Remembering Chook Maxwell and Other Black Canadian Hockey Greats

By Walik Edwards
Updated: January 8, 2005

Stan "Chook" Maxwell
Stan “Chook” Maxwell

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA_Stan “Chook” Maxwell was born in truro, nova scotia in 1935, the second oldest in a brood of 15. being in a huge family makes breaking away for individual activities a tough chore at times, but he managed to explore his athletic prowess to the point of making those activities a successful venture in his future life.

his rabid passion for sports brought him into the realm of playing hockey, as well as baseball. back in those times, the black player was just getting noticed up in canada, and the one that got the most play was over in montreal.

..a guy named jackie robinson.

once “chook” acquired a pair of skates from a rummage sale in his neighborhood, he was on his way to honing his skills and making himself into a player worthy of being looked at in a professional capacity. on the ponds of truro, he practiced hockey from 14 to 16 hours a day, and developed a reputation as a scorer, scoring his, as he put it, “first 500 goals between goal posts made of rocks.”

he parlayed that into a professional career where he played with several teams, including the boston bruins and four other teams with willie o’ree, the true pioneer of African americans in professional hockey. he also made his reputation in the sport in the junior hockey division playing with the quebec citadels, among others, and signed a contract at the age of 20 to play for the quebec aces in the quebec hockey league for $3,000 per season.

his reputation was that of a player who could score, but he had some toughness, recalling his days of rumbling in the corners — which in hockey can be one of the worst situations to be in if your toughness dues aren’t paid — with some of the rugged ice warriors of that day.

his dream was to play pro hockey, which came out in earnest when he turned down a pro contract with the milwaukee braves in 1959. he had the opportunity to play with the great hank aaron, but, instead, chose to endure years of torrid racism. as with all the great ones, he chose to fight back by displaying his prowess on his surface of play… this case, it was an icy pond, and the action was scoring goals.

by the time he retired in 1971 from the toledo blades, he’d gotten respect from other players and hockey fans alike. he accomplished his goal in making his own career a success.

his biggest success was making it in a sport that lacked color.

post-hockey, mr. maxwell was inducted into the nova scotia hall of fame and the truro sports heritage hall of fame.

then there was apex cleaners.

employed with canadian national railways, he and another man named artie jordan and yet a third partner decided to start the business, which concentrated on cleaning upholstery, carpets, and floors for commercial and residential customers. the third partner left the business early on, but the business endured under the careful watch of the duo, who were complete opposites in how they ran things, where mr. maxwell was outwardly verbal with a hint of manic in him, and mr. jordan, a little more subdued.

apex currently sponsors the apex invitational golf tournament at the truro golf club, which has been the case for the past 25 years. chook maxwell’s younger brother, darrell, was one of the co-founders of the tourney, and mr. maxwell himself recalled the tournament as a thing where “a few Black guys from the neighbourhood [were] having a little get-together with hamburgers and hotdogs.”

the tournament has taken on a larger than expected life to it with players coming from the united states and canada to play, with an events committee that makes sure all the activities run smoothly.

it’s a story of perseverance: a man making his way in an era, in a sport that is still finding its way to have more people of color in it. also, it’s a success story because he helped to build apex into a situation that he and all african americans can be proud of. a venture of pride and integrity.

once again, don’t wait for me to trip you up into stumbling into our history. discover the history for yourselves, and continue to dig for those lost gems that are still buried in that enigma that’s called HISTORY.

Other African Greats In Canadian Hockey History

William "Billy" Oliver 1933-34 – William “Billy” Oliver of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, played Water Polo and Hockey for Acadia University Senior Hockey Team.

1938-39 – John Paris of Windsor, N.S. played for Bulldogs in Windsor Town League.

1945-46 – John Paris returned from overseas duty with West Nova Scotia Regiment and played for Wildcats in Windsor Town League.

1950s – Chook Maxwell in Truro, N.S.

1955-56 – Stan “Chook” Maxwell played in Quebec Junior League for Quebec Citadels, Montreal Royals, & Three Rivers. Next, he played in Quebec Senior League for Chicoutimi 1955-56; Quebec Aces 1956-59; Kingston Frontenacs 1959-61; Hull-Ottawa Canadiens 1961-62. Then he moved to Los Angeles Blades 1961-65; Toledo Blades 1966-1971.

John Paris Jr. John Paris Jr.

1960s – John Paris Jr. in Windsor School

1962-64 – John Paris Jr. of Windsor, N.S. played hockey for Windsor Royals Midgets Minor Hockey Team and was scouted by Scotty Bowman for Junior Canadiens organization. He went to play in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Played Junior A and then Senior Hockey with Quebec Aces. Later became coach in Quebec and Scout for St. Louis Blues 1987-1991.

1964-65 – Percy Paris of Windsor, N.S. son of John, played for King’s College School in Windsor, N.S.

Mike Paris Mike Paris 1994 – John Paris Jr. became first African Canadian head coach in professional hockey as he joined Atlanta Knights (NHL Florida Panthers Farm Team) and led them to I. H. L. Championship.

John "Buster" Paris 2001 John “Buster” Paris 2001

2001, March 3 – John “Buster” Paris inducted into the Birthplace of Hockey Hall of Fame as a “Builder”.