This is the research of "Monte" Afzelius –
the first known North American ice-hockey player,
born in Sweden.
Skilled in both soccer and bandy
Monte was born “on the Atlantic Ocean”, September 18, 1889.
His father, Lars-Petter, was a sea captain – and “Monte” was probably
born on a ship.
He grew up in Gavle, a city situated about 150 kilometres north of
When “Monte” was about 11-12 years old – he joined a small local club
named IF Neptunus –
but some years later he left for the more well known IFK Gavle,
playing both soccer and bandy.
“Monte” took part in the first Swedish final of bandy the winter 1907 –
when IFK Uppsala defeated IFK Gavle, 4-1.
He was a very skilled skater and in 1909 the first in the country to use
skates with fixed blades.
In 1910 he was enrolled by one of the best bandy and soccer teams in the country, AIK, from Stockholm.
Leaving for North America and Detroit
In February 1912 he left Stockholm for North America, together with his older brother, Arvid Allan Afzelius. They arrived to New York with the ship Hellig Olav, from Copenhagen, Denmark, 12 of November 1912 – their destination was an old friend – Robert Blom – living in Detroit.
"Montes" brother, Allan, was born, June 11, 1885, and was working as a clerk.
In the City Directories of Detroit there is a Allan Afzelius, clerk, living at 16 Highland Avenue,
Highland Park in 1914 and 1915 – and probably “Monte” lived at the same address
as his brother in those first years.
In November 1915 “Monte” wrote back to his old friends in Sweden, telling them he lived in Detroit working at the Ford Factory, His address was; 2711 Woodward Avenue, Detroit.
Founder of the first Swedish Hockey Club
He wrote that he that winter had founded “The Swedish Hockey club in Detroit” – and if it is true –
the first Swedish hockey team ever – because in Sweden the first local team started their activities
the winter 1920/1921.
According to the City Directories of Detroit he had moved to a new address in 1916 – 1016 Brush Street.
In the City Directories his name was spelled Afzilius and he was called an “autoworker”.
The Directory of 1917 is missing and neither Afzelius is listed in Detroit between 1918-1925.
Going for Hockey in Montreal
The winter 1917 or 1918 a new letter arrived to Sweden – telling that “Monte” –“had been
Enrolled by a Canadian hockey team, the Montreal Canadiens, that had been playing
hockey since 1885”.
This information was published 1972 recalling an old interview with one of “Montes” best friends,
who received the letter many years earlier
As far as we know “Monte” did not play for the Canadiens – but probably for another team in the
Montreal area under an assumed name....
In 1920 he wrote back to his old friends in Sweden that he had played a lot of hockey during his eight years in USA and Canada – and that he planned to come home to Sweden to found a hockey-league like those in North America.
A trip to Sweden 1921 – and a wife named Olga
He was back in Sweden for some months during the summer 1921,
but returned to New York august 23 on his way to Akron, Iowa –
where he lived together with his wife Olga Afzelius.
In the records from Ellis Island it is written that “Monte” was blonde, had blue eyes and a
length of 167 cm (5´6´´) – working as a carpenter.
1930 US Census names a Olga E. Afzelius, age 35, living in Iowa – but no tracks of “Monte” himself.
Newspaper-clip from 1925 – The Canadian Star
1931 a letter from “Monte” was published in the famous Swedish sportsmagazine “Idrottsbladet”.
It included an old newspaper-clip from Detroit, Michigan dated 1925.
In the article you could read that “Monte” had returned to Detroit and was playing hockey
named “the Canadian Star”.
From the City Directories of Detroit we got his address in 1934 –
he was living at 161 West Columbia Street, employed at the Good Health Club.
No more clues after 1934 – died in Los Angeles 1962, aged 72
That is the last living sign of “Monte” Afzelius – he is not mentioned in the City Directories until 1941 –
then it is a gap until 1957 and 1963 westside, 1958 and 1964 eastside –
but in those years there were no Afzelius listings.
We have no further information about him except his death-date from
the U.S. Social Security Death Index: January 13, 1962 in Los Angeles.
In the Death Index he is named Afzelius, “Alze”, but his correct first name was “Afze”.
His Social Security Number (375-01-0282) was issued by the State of Michigan.
Afze Montagu “Monte” Afzelius
Born: September 18, 1889, “on the Atlantic”, grew up in Gavle, Sweden
blonde, blue eyes and a length of 167 cm (5´6´´)
Left Sweden 1912 – lived and played hockey in Detroit –
then moved for Montreal playing under an assumed name.
At last returned to Detroit to continue his career.
1911/12 left Stockholm, Sweden February 1912 – arrived to New York, November 1912, aged 23
1912/13 Living in Detroit – playing hockey ?
1913/14 Living in Detroit – playing hockey?
1914/15 Founded “The Swedish Hockey Club” in Detroit
1915/16 Playing hockey in Detroit
1916/17 Playing hockey in Detroit or Montreal
1917/18 Hockey in Montreal
1918/19 Hockey in Montreal
1919/20 Hockey in Montreal ?
1920/21 Living in Akron, Iowa, married to Olga – playing hockey?
1921/22 Playing hockey?
1922/23 Playing hockey?
1923/24 Playing hockey?
1924/25 Hockey in Detroit – named “the Canadian Star”, aged 35
1925......hockey in Detroit, we do not know when he retired
1931 living in Detroit
1934 living in Detroit
Died: January 13, 1962 in Los Angeles, aged 72.
©SIHSS 2004, Carl Gidén