In 1886, Queen's challenged the Royal Military College of Canada to a game played on the frozen Kingston Harbour, the two schools play annually for the Carr-Harris Cup, to continue the world's oldest hockey rivalry. Queen's hockey is one of the oldest hockey clubs in the world; only McGill University's team, started in 1875, is older among Canadian university teams. Queen's played its first season in 1883-84, with the first game for which records exist played against a team from Petawawa.
In the 1890s, Queen's played in the Ontario Hockey Association, winning its championship three times consecutively, taking the Cosby Cup into its permanent possession. As Ontario champion, Queen's was a regular in Stanley Cup Challenge Games by challenging in 1895, 1899 and 1906.
Queen's donated the Queen's Cup for annual CIAU competition in 1903. The Gaels won the CIAU title in 1904 and 1906. In 1909, Queen's won the CIAU and then won the Allan Cup national senior championship by defeating the Ottawa Cliffsides in a challenge. The 1910 team won the Allan Cup for a second time (briefly) by winning the CIAU title and a challenge before losing the Cup in a second challenge to Toronto St. Michael's.