Hockey has grown from a local sport and has become embedded in the Canadian cultural identity. People across the country are united as they take a sip of Tim Horton’s coffee and watch the Stanley Cup playoffs. Canada is the birth place of hockey. The name is derived from the French word hoquet (shepherd crook), indicating the shape of the stick. The informal term “shinny” was used to describe the early stick-and-ball game played by students in Montreal, Quebec City, Kingston and Ottawa.
Our national winter sport is played by males and females at the university level, as well as by Olympic teams. Indoor ice hockey first started in Montreal 1875. J.G.A Creighton, a McGill University student, established a set of rules the following year and organized the first team, called the McGill University Hockey Club. Eventually, an Amateur Hockey Association was created in 1886, followed by the Ontario Hockey Association in 1890, and the International Professional Hockey League in 1904.
By the early 19th century, the game of hockey became professionalized. The National Hockey League (NHL) brought a sense of unification and some Canadian teams were born – the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Montreal Maroons, Ottawa Senators and the Toronto St. Pats (and briefly the Quebec Bulldogs and Hamilton Tigers). The game and teams helped create a sense of Canadian identity. Reaching mainstream popularity, the NHL expanded into the United States.
Growing from university games to a national, North American league, it is a game that Canadians embraced. The first women’s hockey world championship was held in Toronto in 1987. Two professional women’s hockey leagues followed, the Canadian Women’ Hockey League (CWHL) and the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL).
Hockey influences our daily lives through movies, TV shows, and songs. Games are watched on CBC television, documentaries cover community hockey events, and songs by such bands as The Tragically Hip include hockey references. In Toronto, you can find the finest collection of the sport’s artifacts at The Hockey Hall of Fame, a must-see for fans and tourists alike.
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