boston hockey roots

“Boston Evening Gazette” Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A., Saturday, November 5, 1859.


A visiting journalist from New England wrote a piece about Winter Sports in Nova Scotia telling of the marvellous skaters and describing the new game played on ice called Ricket, Hurley or Hockey. The editor of the paper added a note saying that he had sent to Nova Scotia for a set of hurley sticks so that the game could be tried in the Boston area. He pointed out that Nova Scotians were then referring to the sticks by the name of “hockey”. Actually, the game at that time was referred to by interchangeable names, Hurley and Hockey, and a stick used to play the game was likewise called a “Hurley” or a “Hockey”.

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canadian stick ball

1749: British military diary explains fusion of shinny and Mikmaq hockey.In the book Halifax: Warden of the North, one of the finest books ever written on Canadian history, the author Thomas H. Raddall, citing a British military diary from 1749, credits the Mi’kmaqs with an early influence on the Canadian game of hockey. He writes:


It is a fact little known in Canada, but a fact none the less, that ice hockey, Canada’s national game, began on the Dartmouth Lakes in the eighteenth century. Here the garrison officers found the Indians playing a primitive form of hurley on ice, adopted and adapted it, and later put the game on skates. When they were transferred to military posts along the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes they took the game with them and for some time afterwards continued to send to the Dartmouth Indians for the necessary sticks.

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stick ball on ice

The earliest recorded mic Mac game up in nova Scotia is reported to be 1749. Various ‘stickball’ games have been played by Native Americans throughout the continent prior to Europeans arrival . This goes for Southern, Central American and Northern American region. The nature of rules, and equipment varied according to where –and of course- the climate. If you are interested in ice hockey, the Mic Macs are recorded as playing what we would call a pond hockey using bone as their runners, sticks for balance as well as their hitting stick.  Since bone doesn’t perform like metal the balance sticks let them glide more. The blade could have been buffalo or any other large animal such as elk. I know anecdotally from Lakota people that they also did bone skates and played  stick games in winter along river ways. On dry land the ‘hockey’ or ball game was called ‘shinny’ and was played by women and men. In fact many museum collection’s, including ours, have shinny sticks from Southwestern, Plains and Eastern peoples.



> The information and resources about this topc, Charles Eastman and Sara Wakefield, I have generally date to the 1800s. Both were witnesses to this game as played by the Dakota. Eastman as a Dakota native played it. Walker also discussed the game in his books about the Lakota. He lived with the tribes and interviewed tribal members, who stated that the game was a long-standing tradition. However, he lived with the reservation tribes in the 1900s. As far as I know, none of the earliest reports of the tribes, Jesuit priests (circa 1500s), ever reported the game, but their interaction with the Siouan peoples was limited and many of their accounts are second hand coming from enemy tribes.

This does not eliminate the Sioux as among the earliest players of the game; neither does it confirm that they were one of the first to play the game in the Americas. Now Lacrosse or some variant thereof was documented by early settlers in the East among the Siouan speakers of the coast and I believe some reports indicate that the game could be played on ice.

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early hockey facts

Did you know that”just before British soldiers fled New York City in 1783 at the end of the revolutionary war,they reportedly played a game of Irish Hurley on skates,and that a version of hockey was played in Stoney Brook (today’s Princeton ),New Jersey in the winter of 1786″(I say 1787).ImageImageImage

AlsoImageImage The Lakota / Teton-Sioux of North-South Dakota, USA played a ball and stick game on ice , using  two sharp pieces of carved  buffalo shoulder bone attached to flat birchwood runners as skates, and bent tree branches as sticks.  

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early hockey tapestry



Hi just here to share some info on the evolution of ice hockey.

I’ve researched both american and canadian perspectives.
Birthplace of early hockey games took place on long pond windsor ns near kings college circa 1800.Ice hurley and other forms of break shins ,wicket cricket, ice bandy, shinny, field hockey on ice,rugby,ice lacrosse,etc, were being combined.
Modern skates were invented by philadelphian ev bushnell in 1848.Early pucks were carved out of wood by the mic mac indians 1860.The first hockey stick was carved in Cape Breton Nova Scotia around 1838.
First indoor and semi organized game was played with 9 players per side at the victoria skating rink montreal in 1875 by james creighton using previous halifax rules.
First artificial skating rink was created by william newton in new york city 1870.First indoor arena in the us was the great chicago skating rink 1860.
Earliest known arrival of game to usa 1856 at st.paul’s school at concord new hampshire.They played shinny to ice field hockey to ice polo.
Montreal rules of hockey used by james conover at st.paul’s school nh in 1880-81.
First game to mention postions and play 7 on 7 was at the montreal winter carnival festival 1883.
Burlington vermont hosts that carnival in 1886 and played the first international hockey match (7 on7) between the montreal hc and local van ness house club.
First organized league was in 1886-87 the amatuer hockey association in montreal.
1890-91 goal nets invented from ice polo at storrs agricultural school now uconn.Early goalie like pads were worn same time there.
First pro league created in portage, michigan 1904 (iphl).Local business man james dee & canadian dentist doc gibson.
Early hockey pants worn 1896 at detroit medical school.Modern goalie pads Duluth central high school circa 1903-04.Maybe earlier there.
Early 6 0n 6 version of game washington park brooklyn 1908(aahl).
Blocker invention lorne chabot canada 1920’s.Nhl goalie trapper mike karakas from aurora minnesota mid 1930’s.Helmet frank goheen white bear lake minnesota 1915-16. Clarence abel(sault st marie, michigan).
First us player to win stanley cup with the 1928 rangers.
First parallel defense pairing.Coach alfred winsor harvard in 1911-12.
George owen and coach william claflin of harvard invents full three man line change 1923.
First goalie mask jaques plante 1959.
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