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)

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James Naismith: his early formative years in Canada leading to the invention of basketball

The origins of popular sports such as baseball, football and hockey are often difficult to pinpoint; often a number of individuals and places claim to be the inventor or the birthplace of a sport. However, there is no dispute on who invented the sport of basketball: Canadian Dr. James Naismith. Born in the Ottawa valley town of Almonte, province of Canada on November 6, 1861, James Naismith was orphaned at a very young age and was raised along with his older sister Annie and younger brother Robbie by his uncle and aunt.

A popular childhood game in Naismith’s youth was “duck on the rock.” A stone called “the duck” was placed on a larger stone or a tree stump. The objective of the game was for players to knock the duck stone off its base, run to retrieve their own stone and return to the original throwing location. A participant would play the role of the “guard” whose role was to pick up the duck rock if it had been knocked off, place it back on its base, and race to tag one of the throwers before the latter returned to his starting point. While each player had his or her throwing technique, Naismith noticed that the most successful players lobbed their stone with aim and accuracy which would allow them more time to pick up their stone. The memory of this childhood game would influence his creation of the game of basketball.

A black-and-white photograph of a group of men standing in a field watching a game of duck on the rock.

A game of duck on a rock, Alberta, September 1906 (MIKAN 3386054)

Naismith struggled with his studies and decided to quit during his second year at Almonte High School at the age of 15. He preferred to work on the family farm in the summer and the logging camps in the winter. The 1881 Canadian census lists his occupation at the age of 19 as a farmer.

Later that year, Naismith decided to go back to high school and graduated in 1883 at the age of 21. He moved to Montréal and pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Honours and Philosophy and Hebrew at McGill University. Late 19th-century Montréal was an important centre for the early development of organized sports in Canada and North America. The first official rules for popular sports such as lacrosse and hockey were elaborated during that period. Naismith—blessed with natural athletic abilities—was drawn to many sports played at the university including gymnastics, rugby football and lacrosse. He graduated from McGill with a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education in 1888. These interests led him to be named the first director of physical training at McGill in the fall of 1889.

A black-and-white photograph of two rugby football players crouching, the man on the left is holding the ball, waiting to throw it to the other man behind him.

James Naismith (on the left) playing rugby football (MIKAN 3652828)

A black-and-white photograph of the McGill University rugby football team. They are wearing striped knee socks and white uniforms adorned with a crest.

James Naismith (far left, sitting down) part of the McGill rugby football team (MIKAN 3650079).

In September 1890, Naismith moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S. to attend the International YMCA Training School. Tasked with creating a new indoor sport, he invented the game of basketball. The first game was played in the YMCA gymnasium in Springfield in December 1891. Basketball has since become of one of the most popular sports in the world.

A black-and-white photograph of a group of men sitting on a staircase. On each side are the baskets that were first used in the sport.

The world’s first basketball team. Dr. James Naismith is on the right in the center row (MIKAN 3652826)

For more photos documenting Naismith’s professional and personal activities, consult the D. Hallie Lowry collection held by Library and Archives Canada.

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.

Ottawa Winter Carnival, 1922 edition

“A Week Without Worry!”… “Mirth Will be King for Carnival Week.” These were some of the slogans used to describe the first Canadian National Winter Carnival—otherwise known as the Ottawa Winter Carnival—of 1922. This was no tame affair. Instead, for a week at the end of January and early February 1922, Ottawans partied—and even went foolishly wild.

Canadians were used to winter parties. Since the late 19th century, there had been somewhat more genteel winter carnivals, which featured ice forts, informal skating parties and hockey matches. During these, there was only the occasional leap into the absurd. An example is the February 1894 skating masquerade at Rideau Hall where Lord Aberdeen’s male staff dressed up as schoolgirls:

Black-and-white photograph showing eight people standing on a snowy staircase, holding decorative fans. They are all wearing similar costumes comprised of dresses, pinafores and bonnets. Close inspection reveals that some of them have mustaches and look somewhat masculine.

Lord Aberdeen’s staff dressed as schoolgirls for a masquerade skating party at Rideau Hall, called “Dame Marjorie School” (MIKAN 3422882)

The 1922 Ottawa carnival was the brainchild of stock broker and mayor, Frank Plant. He organized everything within a matter of weeks. Lord Byng, the Governor General, was asked to open the festivities, which he did outside the Château Laurier on Saturday, January 28, 1922, with 10,000 people in attendance.

Black-and-white photograph of an ice castle taken from a very high vantage point. Crowds of people are milling about and the city fades into the distance.

Ice Palace at the Ottawa Winter Carnival (MIKAN 3517932)

The carnival included the following activities:

  • torchlight snowshoe parades on downtown streets
  • a grand ball at the Château Laurier
  • hockey matches between the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens
  • curling and boxing
  • nightly bean dinners in Lowertown
  • giant bonfires at Major’s Hill Park and at Connaught and Cartier Squares
  • ice castle climbing
  • midnight dances
  • horse-drawn passenger cutters that ferried people around the city
  • ski jumping off the cliffs at Rockcliffe Park

Although prohibition was in effect in the province of Ontario, alcohol was still legal in neighbouring Quebec. And with the exuberant party atmosphere, authorities turned a blind eye to the reveling hordes travelling back and forth across the river from Hull (now Gatineau) with bottles of booze.

There were three major attractions. The first was the 22-metre Ice Palace located at Cartier Square on Elgin Street.

Black-and-white photograph showing many people standing, possibly queuing, around an ice castle.

The Ottawa Winter Carnival Ice Palace during the day (MIKAN 3517934)

Black-and-white photograph showing an ice castle, brightly illuminated from the inside.

Ottawa Winter Carnival Ice Palace at night (MIKAN 3517933)

The second attraction was the giant ice column that towered over Connaught Square (now Confederation Square, roughly where the National War Memorial is located) between Union Station, the old Post Office, and the Château Laurier.

Black-and-white photograph of an ice column topped with a crown. A man stands beside it.

Ice column in front of the old Post Office (presently the location of the National War Memorial), Ottawa Winter Carnival, Jan. and Feb., 1922 (MIKAN 3384979)

And the pièce-de-résistance—the ski and toboggan slide.

“Ride a mile for a dime” was the slogan attached to this breathtaking chute. Built out of ice blocks with deep tracks, it extended from the Château Laurier down to the Ottawa River following the side of the Rideau Locks. The departure gate looked like an innocent-enough rustic wooden construction covered in evergreens. But when you entered and looked down, this is what you saw:

Black-and-white photograph of a view of the toboggan chute looking down towards the river and beside the Rideau Canal Lock. The track is very long and steep, and almost reaches the Alexandra Bridge in the distance.

Ski and toboggan chute for the Ottawa Winter Carnival (MIKAN 3517935)

If you were brave enough to venture forward, the chute fell at a daring 45-degree angle which levelled out somewhat before being punctuated by a series of steep dips, rather like a roller coaster. (For more views, see the Flickr album). Lord Byng presided over the first toboggan ride, which held Mayor Plant, prominent businessman A.J. Major, and two others. Throughout the week, daredevil ski jumpers would conduct daily demonstrations on the slide. And the rest of the time, thrill seekers bravely took the plunge on toboggans, racing down and out onto the frozen expanse of the Ottawa River at speeds of over 100 kilometers an hour!

When the week was over, the first Canadian National Winter Carnival was declared a resounding success, with tens of thousands of revelers (the city’s population had only just reached 100,000). The present-day equivalent of the Canadian National Winter Carnival—Winterlude—now garners more than half a million visitors every year.

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 Man Behind the Grey Cup

Library and Archives Canada Blog

Although Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Earl Grey won’t be at this year’s 100th Grey Cup game and party, he would no doubt be proud of his legacy. Earl Grey, who served as Governor General of Canada from 1904 to 1911, commissioned and donated the trophy, which bears his name for posterity.

In the spirit of promoting Canadian sports and culture, Lord Grey first intended to donate a trophy for the senior amateur hockey championship in Canada. But Sir Hugh Andrew Montagu Allan beat him to it, and today the Allan Cup continues to serve that role. Not to be deterred from making a name for himself in Canadian sports, Lord Grey donated the Grey Cup as an annual award for the senior amateur football champions, in 1909.

Lord Grey only lived eight more years after donating the cup, dying in his home in Howick, England, in 1917. However, his…

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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.

The Man Behind the Grey Cup

Although Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Earl Grey won’t be at this year’s 100th Grey Cup game and party, he would no doubt be proud of his legacy. Earl Grey, who served as Governor General of Canada from 1904 to 1911, commissioned and donated the trophy, which bears his name for posterity.

In the spirit of promoting Canadian sports and culture, Lord Grey first intended to donate a trophy for the senior amateur hockey championship in Canada. But Sir Hugh Andrew Montagu Allan beat him to it, and today the Allan Cup continues to serve that role. Not to be deterred from making a name for himself in Canadian sports, Lord Grey donated the Grey Cup as an annual award for the senior amateur football champions, in 1909.

Lord Grey only lived eight more years after donating the cup, dying in his home in Howick, England, in 1917. However, his contribution to Canadian football lives on and this year the Canadian Football League celebrates the 100th Grey Cup championship. Millions of Canadians will be watching the championship game on Sunday, November 25, either live in Toronto or on televisions across the country and around the world.

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds many resources relating to the history of the Grey Cup. To learn more about the life and activities of Grey himself, you can consult the Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Earl Grey fonds.

LAC is also pleased to feature footage of the first Grey Cup game in 1909 between two Toronto teams; the 1931 final; and the legendary “Mud Bowl” from 1950, on its YouTube channel.

There are many images in LAC’s holdings that show how the Grey Cup has become part of the Canadian consciousness, weaving its way into everything from federal and provincial politics to marital relations.

Don’t forget to browse LAC’s football Flickr set!

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

Discover Canada’s Olympic and Sports History – Part II

Do the London Olympics inspire you to learn more about the history of the evolution of sports in Canada?  If so, a great place to begin your research is at Library and Archives Canada. We hold the records of the national bodies for the following sports:

You will also find more information in the Fitness and Amateur Sport Branch records of the former Department of National Health and Welfare (now Health Canada); this is the main source for learning about the federal government’s involvement in the area of sports. It includes over 40,000 photographs documenting the performance of Canadian athletes at national and international competitions (including the Olympics) during the 1960s and 1970s.

For more information on sports, please visit our other websites:

Please remember that not all of our material is available online; however, it is possible to order archival material through our online Request for Retrieval of Documents Form, or by telephone at 613-996-5115 or 1-866-578-7777 (toll-free).

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

Discover Canada’s Olympic and Sports History – Part I

With the London Olympics well underway, it is fitting to remember the past Canadian accomplishments at the Games and to get acquainted with Canada’s relationship with sports throughout history.

For those interested in a visual history of Canada’s participation at the Olympic Games, Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) Canadian Olympians database and web pages consist of more than 10,000 images of athletes from the 1904 St. Louis Olympics in the United States to the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Some of the early important events in Canada’s Olympic history documented at LAC.

*For more information on George Hodgson and other athletes, visit Sporting Lives: Images of Canadian Athletes (archived site).

Please remember that not all of our material is available online; however, it is possible to order archival material through our online Request for Retrieval of Documents Form, or by telephone at 613-996-5115 or 1-866-578-7777 (toll-free).

For more photographs from past Olympics, visit our Images of summer sports and leisure activities Flickr set.

Enjoy the London Games!

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!