The Renfrew Millionaires were a professional hockey team that would attract national attention to the small timber town of Renfrew, Ontario, in 1910 and 1911.
The creation of railroad contractor and town founder, M. J. O'Brien and his son Ambrose, the Renfrew Millionaires were originally called the Renfrew Creamery Kings. Dreaming of having their hockey team win the Stanley Cup, the O'Brien's fought to have the team recognized by the Eastern Canadian Hockey Association, which would later become the Canadian Hockey Association (CHA).
After numerous rejections and snubs, the O'Brien's finally created their own League, and called it the National Hockey Association (NHA). M.J. financed four teams in the League: the Renfrew Creamery Kings which became the Renfrew Millionaires, Cobalt, Haileybury and Les Canadiens of Montreal. Within a month, the Montreal Wanderers also joined.
At first, the media didn't take the NHA or the Renfrew Millionaires, seriously. But by the time the Millionaires hit the ice on January 12, 1910, the 4,000 capacity crowd at the Renfrew hockey arena were on their feet. Despite the Millionaires first game loss of 11-9 to Cobalt, the crowds continued to fill the arena. The special train from Ottawa to Renfrew for watching hockey games became so popular it was labeled the Timberwolf Special by the press.
Adding to the excitement was the team roster. MJ O'Brien and Ambrose were paying huge cash salaries for a team of hockey stars, attracting both attention and the best talent. Bert Lindsay, father of well-known hockey legend Ted Lindsay, was brought in to play goal for the Millionaires. Lester and Frank Patrick were signed at the outrageous cost of $3,000 and $2,000 a season. Frank "Cyclone" Taylor became the highest paid athlete in the world when he joined the Renfrew Millionaires for $5,250 a year.
The next season, 1910/1911, saw the Ottawa Senators leave the larger Canadian Hockey League, taking the Cup with them and joining the O'Brien's NHA League.
After all the hard work and investment, the Stanley Cup was now in sight and within grasp for the Renfrew Millionaires.