Why would a team refuse the Stanley Cup?

By J. Andrew Ross

Last year, the National Hockey League (NHL) celebrated the 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup. The celebration year was no doubt chosen because 2017 was also the NHL’s centennial year. However, even though 125 years earlier, on March 18, 1892, it had been announced that Governor General Frederick Arthur Stanley, 1st Baron Stanley, wished to donate a challenge cup for the hockey championship of the Dominion of Canada, that cup only arrived in Canada the following year. Further complicating matters, the team that was to receive the Stanley Cup actually refused it, and was only persuaded to take possession of the trophy in 1894.

Anniversaries aside, the story of how the Stanley Cup eventually became Canada’s holiest sports icon can be told through the collection of Library and Archives Canada.

By the time his cup arrived in Canada, Stanley had returned to England before the end of his term as governor general, having become the 16th Earl of Derby upon his brother’s death. Stanley appointed Ottawa Evening Journal publisher Philip Dansken (“P.D.”) Ross as one of two trustees of the trophy, and left it to him to fashion the rules of competition.

The entry in Ross’s diary for Sunday, April 23, 1893, notes that he sat down that day to draft the new rules, which were printed in his newspaper on May 1, 1893.

A grainy newspaper clipping of an article with the headline “‘The Stanley Cup.’ His Excellency’s gift to the hockey associations.”

Excerpt from “The Stanley Cup,Evening Journal (Ottawa), May 1, 1893, page 5 (AMICUS 7655475)

While the bowl had already been engraved as the “Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup,” Ross immediately asserted that it should be known as the Stanley Cup in honour of its donor. He confirmed that it would be presented in the first instance to the reigning champions of the elite hockey league of the era, the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada (AHAC), with the idea that they would then defend it against the champions of the Ontario Hockey Association. Ross arranged for the Stanley Cup to be presented to the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (MAAA) team as the reigning champions of the AHAC, “until the championship of the [AHAC] … be decided next year [i.e., 1894], when the Cup shall go to the winning team.”

On May 15, 1893, Sheriff John Sweetland of Ottawa, the other Stanley Cup trustee, travelled to Montreal to present the trophy at the MAAA’s annual meeting. When he arrived with the Stanley Cup—at that time just a simple bowl on a wooden base—he learned that the executive officers of the hockey team had declined to attend the ceremony. The minutes of the meeting, which are in the MAAA fonds (and available online), note: “Sheriff Sweetland then made the presentation, which was accepted by Mr. Taylor [the MAAA president] owing to the unavoidable absence of Mr Stewart the President of the Mtl Hockey Club on behalf of the Assn and the abovenamed club.”

A handwritten note explaining who presented the Hockey Challenge Cup, and who accepted it and why.

Extract from the May 15, 1893, annual meeting, page 315, MAAA Minute-book, MG28 I 351, Library and Archives Canada.

It is not clear whether Sweetland realized that he and the Cup had been snubbed, but the hockey club’s absence had not been “unavoidable.” They had deliberately boycotted the event upon learning that the Cup was to be presented to the MAAA executive and not the team—and that the Cup had been engraved with “Montreal AAA/1893” on a ring around the wooden base of the bowl. The conflict was apparently rooted in the resentment of the hockey club members about being known by the name “MAAA,” rather than the Montreal Hockey Club (Montreal HC). It was a petty point of honour since the hockey club wore the MAAA emblem of the winged wheel on their uniforms, but one that clearly mattered to the proud hockey players.

A black-and-white photograph of a group of men standing, sitting on chairs or reclining. Most are wearing the team uniform and hockey skates.

MAAA 1890 (Montreal Hockey Club) (Hockey Hall of Fame/Library and Archives Canada/PA-050689). Credit: Hockey Hall of Fame.

It was only after almost a year of contentious negotiations—at one point, the MAAA threatened to send the Cup back to the trustees!—that, in March 1894, the Montreal HC finally agreed to take possession of the Stanley Cup. A few weeks later, the club won the AHAC championship yet again, making them the first winners (as opposed to simply the holders) of the Cup. This time, the team took responsibility for the engraving, and pointedly used “Montreal 1894.” With no reference being made to the MAAA, honour was seemingly served.

The next season, the Montreal HC became the first team to successfully defend the trophy in the first Stanley Cup series. Its insistence on getting its own name on the Cup may have been worth the effort, even if its prolonged refusal to accept the trophy risked making the Cup irrelevant. But the Stanley Cup was finally awarded, and the rest is history.


Andrew Ross is an archivist in the Government Archives Division, and the author of Joining the Clubs: The Business of the National Hockey League to 1945.

Reading hockey at the Canadian Museum of History

By Jennifer Anderson

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is about more than just “stuff”; it is also the home of leading experts in Canadian history and culture. While LAC archivist Jennifer Anderson was at the Canadian Museum of History (CMH) on an Interchange Canada agreement, she co-curated the popular exhibition, “Hockey.” During the exhibition research, she consulted LAC staff and experts across the country. LAC also loaned 30 artifacts to the museum for this exhibition, and offered digital copies of hockey images from its vaults.

You can see the results that teamwork brings! Having run from March 10 until October 9, 2017 in Gatineau, the exhibition will start up again on November 25, 2017 (the 100th anniversary of the NHL) in Montréal at Pointe-à-Callière, before continuing its cross-country tour.

“Hockey”: the exhibition that started with a book…

…or two…or a few hundred. Biographies, autobiographies, histories—comic books, and novels for young people; we read those, too! And as many newspaper and magazine articles as we could find.

The exhibition team swapped books like fans trade hockey cards!

Books moved us, pushed us, challenged us and at times even frightened us. I cried and laughed over them, took notes and then forgot to because I was too engrossed in the reading. We read about big personalities like Maurice Richard and Pat Burns, about game changers like Sheldon Kennedy and Jordin Tootoo, and about Ken Dryden’s observations of young people and families in the game. We were deeply inspired by Jacques Demers’ work to advance youth literacy initiatives. Borrowing literacy teachers’ best practices, we chose to use fonts of different sizes and based the look of our exhibit on the style of a hockey card. The goal: make reading fun and accessible.

One of the first books I read was Paul Kitchen’s fascinating tale of the early history of the Ottawa Senators, Win, Tie or Wrangle (2008). Kitchen did much of his research from a desk at LAC, and he spun some of his discoveries into an online exhibition, Backcheck. From his book, we were able to identify a little-known shinty medallion depicting a stick-and-ball game, which took place on the grounds of Rideau Hall in 1852. Drawing on Kitchen’s footnotes, I reached out to the Bytown Museum, and was thrilled to learn they would be happy to lend the artifact for the exhibit. The conservators at the CMH buffed it up a bit, and images of this early piece of hockey history were included in the exhibition souvenir catalogue.

A colour photograph showing two sides of a silver medallion. The one side shows a game of shinty taking place outdoors and the second side reads “Bytown and New Edinburgh Shintie Club, Dec. 25th 1852.”

Front and back views of the silver New Edinburgh Shintie Club medallion, 1852, Bytown Museum, A203. Canadian Museum of History photos, IMG2016-0253-0001-Dm, IMG2016-0253-0001-Dm.

Paul Kitchen would probably be the first to acknowledge that any research project is a team sport, and our exhibition team reached out to many experts who had earlier worked with Kitchen, or had been inspired by him. Within LAC, Normand Laplante, Andrew Ross, and Dalton Campbell have continued the tradition of sports history, and their archival work led us to explore LAC’s collections for material to place in the exhibit. At the CMH, there are hockey experts galore, but Jenny Ellison is the “captain.” The team brought on Joe Pelletier as a research assistant to scout out images and hidden bits of information, based on the work he had already provided voluntarily. Hockey researchers and curators from across the country sent us artifacts, images and information.

Loaning originals is such an important part of the diffusion of any collection. Thirty individual items were loaned by LAC to the CMH for this exhibition. The LAC Loans and Exhibitions Officer admitted to being particularly touched by the team’s interest in The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier (now a popular animated film). As a child, she had received this book from one of her best friends, and only recently located this much-loved book. She has since shared it with her own children, and enjoyed telling them about her own childhood memories of this popular story about hockey.

A colour image of a book cover showing boys dressed like Maurice Richard getting ready for a hockey game

The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier and illustrated by Sheldon Cohen. Used by permission of Tundra Books, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited (AMICUS 4685355)

Carolyn Cook, LAC curator, was pleased to see Bryan Adams’ portrait of Cassie Campbell in the exhibition. This portrait was one of several taken by Adams for Made in Canada, a book of photographs of famous Canadian women sold as a fundraiser for breast cancer research. “Cassie Campbell is an iconic figure in the world of women’s hockey,” said Cook. “Her on-ice accomplishments opened the door to the next generation of girls coming up in the game and, as the first woman to do colour commentary on ‘Hockey Night in Canada,’ she has broken through the glass ceiling. This close-up portrait of her exudes strength, control and determination—qualities that have contributed to Campbell’s success.”

In the early research period, Richard Wagamese’s book, Indian Horse, hit a chord and resonated with the team. Michael Robidoux’s book on Indigenous hockey, Stickhandling Through the Margins, motivated us to ensure that space be put aside for the full integration of Indigenous voices in the game, whether from the early leadership of Thomas Green, or through the artwork of Jim Logan to spark discussion of hockey in society.

Drawing on Carly Adams’ book, Queens of the Ice, the museum acquired and exhibited a rare Hilda Ranscombe jersey. We also read the footnotes in Lynda Baril’s Nos Glorieuses closely, and as a result were able to secure a number of important artifacts that were still in private collections, including a trophy awarded to Berthe Lapierre of the Montréal Canadiennes in the 1930s. And when we read about Hayley Wickenheiser skating to school in the drainage ditches along the roadside, building up the muscles that made her a leader in the sport, on and off the ice, we put her story near the centre of the exhibition.

A few of our favourite books found their way directly into the museum cases, to tell their own stories.

For instance, where we highlighted the role of the team-behind-the-team, we gave Lloyd Percival’s book The Hockey Handbook a central spot in the case. Gary Mossman’s recent biography of Percival was a big influence here, and in particular, I was fascinated by the powerful impact Percival’s book had on how hockey players and coaches approached the game. Imagine a time when players ate more red meat and drank beer the night before a game, rather than following Percival’s advice to eat yogurt and fresh fruit! And yet it was not that long ago! Apparently the book was taken up by Soviet hockey coach Anatoli Tarasov, and we saw its impact on the ice in 1972. Percival also had an interesting perspective on burnout, or “staleness” as he called it—a theory that has application for both on- and off-ice players.

Stephen Smith, author of Puckstruck, lent the museum collectible and fun cookbooks that teams published—this spoke to the overlap between popular fan culture and the down-to-earth and very practical realities of nutrition in high-performance sport.

The Museum of Manitoba loaned bookmarks that had been distributed to school kids by the Winnipeg Jets, each with a hockey player’s personal message about the importance of literacy in everyday life. These were displayed next to the hockey novels and comic books from LAC.

The exhibition team wondered about how to tackle prickly issues like penalties, violence and controversy. Then we hit on the most natural of all approaches—let the books and newspaper articles tell the stories! So next to an official’s jersey, you will find our suggested reading on the ups and downs of life as a referee, Kerry Fraser’s The Final Call: Hockey Stories from a Legend in Stripes. In the press gallery section, the visitor gets a taste for the ways that sports journalists have made their mark on the game. Next to a typewriter, an early laptop and Frank Lennon’s camera, we placed Russ Conway’s book Game Misconduct: Alan Eagleson and the Corruption of Hockey.

To capture the importance of youth literacy, we carefully chose books that we tested ourselves for readability.

A book cover showing a man walking in a hockey arena carrying a large red duffel bag and a hockey stick.

C’est la faute à Ovechkin by Luc Gélinas, Éditions Hurtubise inc., 2012 (AMICUS 40717662)

A book cover showing a child playing hockey wearing a yellow-and-black uniform and chasing a hockey puck.

La Fabuleuse saison d’Abby Hoffman by Alain M. Bergeron, Soulières, 2012 (AMICUS 40395119)

A book cover showing an abstract illustration that incorporates a hockey stick.

Hockeyeurs cybernétiques by Denis Côté, Éditions Paulines, 1983 (AMICUS 3970428)

Literacy became a thread running through the exhibition, in ways big and small. Thanks to all the librarians who helped us get our hands on these books! It may be too ambitious, but I continue to cherish the hope that the exhibition and this blog will inspire you to pick up a book, visit a library, and enjoy the game as much as we did.

Wishing to bring a fresh read to the sport, Jenny Ellison and I are editing a group of new essays on the sport, to be published in 2018 (Hockey: Challenging Canada’s Game — Au-delà du sport national) Check it out!

Do you have a favourite book about hockey?  Let us know in the comments.


Jennifer Anderson was co-curator of the exhibition “Hockey” at the Canadian Museum of History. Currently, she is an archivist in the Archives Branch at Library and Archives Canada.

Hockey Marching as to War – the 228th Battalion

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) currently has an exhibition at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa, which runs until January 22, 2016. Hockey Marching as to War engages viewers in the many stories of hockey players’ involvement in Canada’s First World War effort—from the men who enlisted and served overseas to the women who took up sticks at home.

A particularly fascinating story is the emergence of highly successful military hockey teams. In 1916, Winnipeg’s 61st Battalion won the prestigious Allan Cup—the senior amateur hockey championship—and Montreal’s 87th Battalion was good enough to play an exhibition game against Montreal professionals, including players from the Canadiens.

No military team was more famous than the 228th Battalion, whose history is there for all to see in LAC’s rich collection of government records. Known as the Northern Fusiliers, the 228th mustered in North Bay, Ontario, under the command of Lt.-Col. Archie Earchman, and was so successful recruiting talented hockey players that in the fall of 1916 it was invited to join the National Hockey Association (NHA), the main professional league and forerunner of the National Hockey League.

A black-and-white photograph of a man standing. He is wearing a uniform, a cap and a Sam Browne belt, and holding a baton.

Lieutenant Colonel Earchman, D.S.O., Toronto, Ontario, undated (MIKAN 3215233)

Continue reading

Shaping our national winter sport: hockey innovations

The first artificial ice arenas in Canada

In 1911, Frank and Lester Patrick, hockey players and entrepreneurs, built the first two artificial ice rinks in Canada—the Denman Arena in Vancouver, and the Victoria Arena in Victoria. The Denman Arena was the largest arena in Canada at the time with a seating capacity of 10,500. The rinks were constructed to be the main rinks for the new Pacific Coast Hockey Association games, created by the Patrick brothers to bring professional hockey to western Canada and to compete with the National Hockey Association (predecessor to the National Hockey League).

A colour reproduction showing a colourized photograph of a young man wearing a red-and-white sweater with a red “R” emblazoned in the middle of his chest.

Hockey card for Frank Patrick, circa 1910–1912 (MIKAN 2962979)

According to Library and Archives Canada’s database Canadian Patents, 1869-1919, Frank Patrick applied to the Canadian Patent Branch to patent the refrigeration system for their rinks in 1913. The patent seems to have been granted in June 1914, although the application does have “cancelled” stamped on it.

A black-and-white reproduction of a sketch showing the cooling mechanism for a hockey rink.

Ice rink patent application (Patent number 156325)

Recognized as the leaders in the development of artificial ice hockey rinks in Canada, Frank and Lester Patrick are also credited for implementing many rules of hockey that are instrumental to how the game is played today.

For more information on the opening of the Denman Arena and the creation of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, please see our virtual exhibition, Backcheck: a Hockey Retrospective.

The creation and evolution of the hockey net

The first hockey goals consisted of two rocks, and later posts, which were placed at each end of the rink. The goal posts were first eight feet apart, then reduced to the 6-foot width still used today.

A black-and-white photograph showing hockey players during a game on an outdoor hockey rink

Hockey match at McGill University (MIKAN 3332330)

A typewritten page showing the rules of hockey.

Ontario Hockey Association rules as found in Hockey: Canada’s Royal Winter Game.

In the 1890s, a number of hockey leagues started to experiment with the use of fishing nets attached to the posts to avoid arguments over goals. In 1899, the newly-created Canadian Amateur Hockey League officially adopted the use of hockey nets during their games. The goal consisted of a net attached to a rope connecting the top of each goal post.

A black-and-white reproduction of a handwritten notebook titled “Intermediate Championship”

Minutes of the annual meeting of the Canadian Amateur Hockey League, December 9, 1899 (MIKAN 100095 or on the Héritage website, image 95).

In 1911, Percy LeSueur, one of the best and most innovative goaltenders at the time, submitted a patent application to improve the hockey net. According to his application, the objective of his patent claim was to “enable much greater accuracy in deciding scores to be maintained.” LeSueur’s proposed hockey net improved on the existing goal type where the supporting top bar was set back a number of inches from the goal line and allowed a shot from close range and at an upward angle to go over the bar, even if it crossed the goal line. The patent was granted to Le Sueur in 1912 and the concept behind his patent remains the foundation for the hockey goal still used today.

A black-and-white photograph with medallions portraits of 12 men centered around a white square.

Group photo of the Ottawa Hockey Club in 1914, which includes Percy LeSueur (top middle) (MIKAN 3386140)

A black-and-white reproduction of a detailed illustration of a goal net with measurements.

Le Sueur’s patent application drawing showing the improved goal net (patent number 139387)

For more information on the Canadian Amateur Hockey League Association, please consult the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association fonds held by Library and Archives Canada.

The goalie mask

In November 1959, the all-time great goaltender, Jacques Plante, would change the hockey world by starting to wear a face mask on a regular basis. Until then, goaltenders did not use protective masks. A few notable exceptions included Elizabeth Graham who used a fencing mask in a hockey game in 1927 and National Hockey League (NHL) goaltender Clint Benedict who used a leather mask in a few games in 1929. Plante of the Montreal Canadiens had experimented since the mid-1950s with different masks in practices and exhibition games to protect himself from pucks and sticks.

A black-and-white photograph of a man leaning on the hockey boards holding a transparent mask in his hands.

Jacques Plante showing off a mask, the “Louch Shield” which he experimented with in practice before 1959 (MIKAN 4814213)

On November 1st, 1959, after suffering a broken nose and cuts to the face during an NHL game against the New York Rangers, he returned from the dressing room with a mask created by fibreglass specialist, Bill Burchmore.

In January 1960, Jacques Plante began wearing a new lighter mask, commonly known as the “pretzel mask,” built by Burchmore and consisting of 540 woven ends of fibreglass yarn.

A black-and-white photograph of a goalie with a mask defending his net. Behind him other players (without helmets) are falling on the ice, reaching for the puck.

Jacques Plante in action wearing a second type of mask on January 17, 1960 (MIKAN 4814204)

A black-and-white photograph of a man taking off a goalie mask.

Jacques Plante lifting his hockey mask (MIKAN 3194972)

Other goaltenders would follow suit and the mask soon became a standard piece of equipment for a goaltender. Jacques Plante would continue improving goalie masks and created his own mask-making business towards the end of his hockey playing career.

For more information on Jacques Plante and his innovations, consult the Jacques and Caroline Raymonde Plante fonds held at Library and Archives Canada.

Images of Hockey life now on Flickr

Hockey is so popular in Canada that a number of cities claim to have started, or invented, the game. Some notable claimants are the cities of Halifax, Windsor and Kingston.

There are early recorded events, such as the 1875 indoor game in Montreal at the Victoria Skating Rink, and the 1883 Montreal Winter Carnival hockey tournament where teams from Ottawa and Quebec City participated. There were even amateur associations formed to promote the growth of the game in Canada.

Happy 100th birthday, Hockey Canada!

On December 4, 2014, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is celebrating the 100th birthday of the national governing body for amateur hockey in Canada.

Hockey is Canada’s national winter game and is played by young and old on frozen ponds and arenas from coast to coast to coast. The centennial of Hockey Canada gives us an opportunity to understand and learn more about hockey’s roots in Canada.

Minister of State (Sport), the Honorable Bal Gosal, October 30, 2014

The Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) was founded in December 1914 in Ottawa, Ontario as the national administrative, regulatory and developmental body for amateur hockey in Canada. Representation at the founding meeting included the provincial hockey associations of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario; the Montreal City Hockey League; the Canadian Intercollegiate Hockey Union; the Allan Cup Trustees; the Canadian Olympic Association; and the Amateur Athletic Union of Canada. Other groups affiliated with the CAHA after its creation include the Quebec Amateur Hockey Association in 1919, the Ottawa District Amateur Hockey Association in 1920, the Maritime Amateur Hockey Association in 1928, the Newfoundland Amateur Hockey Association in 1966 and the New Brunswick Amateur Hockey Association in 1968.

Black and white composite photograph showing portraits of the entire team in little medallions with the inscription Monarch Hockey Club, Amateur Champions of Canada, Winners of Pattison Trophy’s Allan Cup 1913-1914,

Winnipeg Monarch Hockey Club. Allan Cup Winners 1913-1914 (MIKAN 3657113)

Library and Archives Canada, in partnership with Canadiana.org, provides digital access to some of the important records from the CAHA fonds such as the official rule books governing amateur hockey going back to 1927.

Reproduction of a 1927 booklet describing the rules of the game by the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association.

Rules of the Game from the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association in 1927 (source on page 77)

In 1994, the CAHA merged its activities with the Canadian Hockey Association, better known as Hockey Canada, which had been created in 1968. The new organization’s mandate was to select teams to represent Canada in international competition and to foster the development of skills in Canadian hockey players. LAC’s Hockey Canada material documents many international hockey series and tournaments, which captured the attention of all Canadians such as the 1972 Summit Series and the 1976 Canada Cup.

Black-and-white entry form for a draw to see a Canada/Soviet game in 1972.

Mail-in coupon for a draw to receive tickets for a 1972 Summit Series game
Source: Hockey Canada Fonds/ Chronological file July 4/72 to Aug 31/72/ (e001217378)

You can discover the evolution of hockey in Canada by exploring LAC’s records of Hockey Canada and its predecessor, the CAHA.

Also, be sure to explore the Hockey Hall of Fame, which has the largest collection of hockey history resources, and visit its new exhibit co-produced with LAC, The First World War and a Century of Military Ties to the Game.

The greater game of war

Canadian hockey stars were not immune to the call to duty when the First World War erupted in 1914. In fact, the strong young men who made up teams across the country represented the prime demographic for potential soldiers and helped promote the war as the ultimate game an athlete could play.

Developed in partnership with the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, the new exhibition Hockey Marching as to War: The First World War and a Century of Military Ties to the Game recounts how the First World War impacted hockey players and transformed organized hockey during and after the war.

War poster depicting a soldier holding a rifle from which billowing smoke transforms into an illustration of an arena filled with fans watching hockey players on the ice; the soldier is looking at the representation.

“Why don’t they come?” Join the 148th Battalion, recruitment campaign, ca. 1914–1918 (MIKAN 3635547)

The 228th Battalion (Northern Fusiliers) was formed in 1916 and fielded a battalion hockey team who played for the National Hockey Association (NHA). The battalion included 12 professional or semi-professional hockey players. Ultimately, the team was a publicity stunt used to encourage recruitment, to boost morale and to deal with the shortage of players in the NHA during wartime.

But when the battalion was eventually called to the front, scandal erupted as it was revealed that some players were promised they would never have to go to war. Those players who went abroad found themselves assigned to a construction unit, building rails for the next two years.

Black and white panoramic photograph of four groups of soldiers standing outside in winter.

228th Battalion, CEF, 1916 (MIKAN 4474052)

Conn Smythe

Hockey legend Conn Smythe enlisted in 1915, a week after winning the Ontario Hockey Association championship. Smythe served in the Canadian Artillery, earning the Military Cross, before being transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in 1917. He then served as an airborne observer until being shot down and captured. Despite two escape attempts, he spent more than a year in a German prisoner-of-war camp. Smythe would later go on to become principal owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Black and white photograph of a man in uniform looking directly at the camera.

Portrait of Lt. Conn Smythe, ca. 1914–1919 (MIKAN 3221254)

One-eyed Frank McGee

“One-eyed” Frank McGee, as he was known, enlisted in the army in 1914 despite having lost his left eye more than a decade earlier. McGee supposedly bluffed his way through the medical exam by trying to memorize the vision chart with his good eye. The doctor wrote “good” on his medical chart for McGee’s right eye, but left the assessment of his left eye blank—perhaps not wanting to tell the league’s top scorer that he was unable to fight for his country.

Digitized image of a form displaying medical information with fields in black print and handwritten answers in black ink.

Medical certificate of Lt. Frank Clarence McGee (from McGee’s CEF file PDF, p. 28)

In August 1916, McGee joined the Battle of the Somme and died one month later when he was hit by enemy shrapnel. A passage in his obituary read:

“Canadians who knew the sterling stuff of which Frank McGee was made . . . were not surprised when he donned another and now more popular style of uniform and jumped into the greater and grimmer game of war. And just as in his sporting career he was always to be found in the thickest of the fray, there is no doubt that on the field of battle Lieut. McGee knew no fear nor shunned any danger in the performance of his duty.”

(Ottawa Citizen, September 23, 1916)

If you’re in Toronto, check out the exhibition at the Hockey Hall of Fame until February 2015!

Sharpen Your Skates!

Below is a selection of children’s books inspired by Canada’s passion for its national winter pastime, hockey.

Le chandail de hockey, by Roch Carrier, is a Canadian children’s literature classic. Generations of children have read about the misadventures of the young narrator, who is forced to wear a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater instead of the Montreal Canadiens’ number 9 immortalized by Maurice Richard. Written in 1970 for radio, the story was translated by Sheila Fischman (AMICUS 20121258). The original French version, Les enfants du bonhomme dans la lune (AMICUS 877142), and the English translation, The Hockey Sweater and Other Stories (AMICUS 905257), were published in 1979. The story inspired Sheldon Cohen’s animated film, The Sweater / Le chandail, produced by the National Film Board. Sheldon Cohen then illustrated the 1984 storybook, published by Tundra Books (AMICUS 5003239).

Did you know that a copy of The Hockey Sweater travelled to the International Space Station in 2009, and that Abigail Richardson composed a symphony based on the story?

Other hockey-related books include the Hockeyeurs cybernétiques (AMICUS 3970428), which brings together the complete science fiction series by Denis Côté, published in 1983 and again in 1993 under the title, L’arrivée des inactifs (AMICUS 12293147). The new edition uses the original title. The hero of the story, Michel Lenoir, is a beloved hockey star who is used by a dictator to control an exploited population. The sport-recreation aspect of hockey is used as a backdrop to reveal an insensitive and programmed futuristic society.

In the 22 novels of The Screech Owls series (AMICUS 28705721), by sports journalist Roy MacGregor, readers follow a peewee hockey team on their adventures at tournaments. The Screech Owls travel throughout Canada, and even attend the Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan, and in Lake Placid in the United States.

The majority of hockey-themed children’s books have been aimed at boys. However, the international reputation of Canada’s women’s hockey team has also inspired female characters. La fabuleuse saison d’Abby Hoffman, by Alain M. Bergeron (AMICUS 40395119), tells the story of Abigail Hoffman, who as a little girl in Toronto in 1955, pretended to be a boy so she could register for Little League hockey. Later in her athletic career, she competed in the women’s 800 metres at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, the 1968 Mexico City Games, the 1972 Munich Games, and the 1976 Montreal Games, at which she was Canada’s flag bearer.

Here are some other reading suggestions:

  • “Denis Côté : Le bon et le mauvais côté des choses,” appearing in Lurelu in 2013, by Marie Fradette (AMICUS 829835).
  • Mystery at Lake Placid, by Roy MacGregor (AMICUS 16776029).

To be the best on snow and ice: Documenting Canada’s achievements at the Olympics

The Sochi 2014 Games mark 90 years of Canadian athletes representing their country on the Winter Olympic stage. Canadians have competed in all Winter Olympics, starting with the first Games in Chamonix in 1924. Canada is also part of a handful of countries that have won medals at every Winter Games.

Library and Archives Canada holds a rich collection documenting memorable Canadian performances at the Games, the athletes behind these achievements, and the historical development of winter Olympic sports disciplines in Canada.

The Canadian Olympians site provides a visual history of Canada’s participation in the Games. It consists of more than 10,000 images of athletes who participated in the Winter and Summer Olympics, from the early 1900s through 2004.

Find out more about the following winter sports:

Use the Archives Search tool to discover many historical documents and images by using keywords such as athletes, sports, Olympics or medals. Here are some examples of what you may find on our website:

Canada's Nancy Greene (top) celebrates her gold medal win in the giant slalom alpine ski event at the 1968 Grenoble winter Olympics. (CP Photo/COA).

Canada’s Nancy Greene (top) celebrates her gold medal win in the giant slalom alpine ski event at the 1968 Grenoble winter Olympics. (CP Photo/COA). Source

Canada's Marc Gagnon competes in the speed skating event at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics. (CP PHOTO/ COA).

Canada’s Marc Gagnon competes in the speed skating event at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics. (CP PHOTO/ COA). Source

See also:

  • Our Flickr album on this subject
  • The Fitness and Amateur Sport records, which contain over 40,000 photographs documenting the performance of Canadian athletes at national and international competitions, including the Olympics

Enjoy the Sochi Games!

Library and Archives Canada releases seventh podcast episode

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is pleased to announce the release of its latest podcast episode: Canada’s Royal Winter Game.

Author and hockey expert Paul Kitchen joins us to discuss the origins of the game, its evolution, and what our love for it says about the Canadian character. Mr. Kitchen also speaks to us about the wealth of hockey-related resources held by LAC.

Subscribe to podcast episodes using RSS or iTunes, or just tune in at: Podcast – Discover Library and Archives Canada: Your History, Your Documentary Heritage.

For more information, please contact us at podcasts@bac-lac.gc.ca.