In 1921, the WCHL was organized under the presidency of E. L. Richardson of Calgary, to compete with the NHL, but was centered in smaller cities with populations of under 100,000 people. In an era where professional sport was considered to be a seasonal occupation to be supplemented by off-season work, salaries even at the major professional level were relatively small and thought to be within the means of clubs located in small markets.
The WHL was never particularly stable. The beginning of the end came in 1924 when the NHL first expanded into the United States. With the NHL rapidly expanding, salaries were on the rise and the WCHL was finding it difficult to keep its star players. By the 1925-26 season, WHL teams were openly selling players to their richer NHL rivals to stay afloat. The NHL board of governors intervened by purchasing the contracts of every player in the WCHL for $258,000 and the league formally disbanded The WHL's collapse left the NHL as the only top-level professional league in North America.