This post was last updated on July 21st, 2016
Hockey and Canada are synonymous. For over a century, hockey has ran through the veins of the Great White North, bringing people together in times of unity, and tearing them apart in times of rivalry. As a native of Montreal, Quebec, FlightHub knows what its like to be on both sides of that coin. There is no way around it, as a Montreal company there is no sympathy for the Maple Leafs, The Senators, The Bruins, or anyone in the National Hockey League. While it is great to live in the moment, hockey’s past is also worth celebrating. As a Canadian company, FlightHub reviews the best places for people to travel to take in hockey’s glorious past in our country.
First some history. Hockey has a complicated origin. Much like baseball, the starting point of hockey is up in the air to a degree. While stick and ball games date back millennia, the first recorded instances of stick and ball games on ice date back to the 1700s in England and Sweden. The game made its way to Canada thanks to British soldiers and immigrants. Formally, hockey’s organized origins begin in Montreal, Quebec, home of FlightHub. The first recorded, indoor game took place on March 3rd, 1875 at the Victoria Skating Rink. The game exploded in Montreal, with the city hosting the first World Championships in 1883. The games popularity grew, with Lord Stanley of Preston becoming a major fan. His love of the game would inspire him to purchase a silver bowl to give as a trophy for Canada’s top team. Initially called The Challenge Cup, this trophy would evolve to become the Stanley Cup, a trophy used to this day to commemorate the winner of the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. Professional hockey as we know it began with the formation of the National Hockey Association in 1910. This league was renamed the National Hockey League in 1917 and is considered the largest league currently in operation thanks to its thirty teams across North America. Eventually other professional leagues rose up across Europe and Russia, with the latest, The Kontinental Hockey League in Russia, forming in 2008 from the ashes of the Russian Superleague.
Well, that was quick. Hockey today is celebrated across the nation, but its prime worshipping place beyond its legendary rinks is the Hockey Hall Of Fame. Located in Toronto, Ontario, the Hall Of Fame was originally located in Kingston, Ontario. It was eventually moved to Toronto in 1958 after fifteen years in Kingston due to the NHL pulling support for the facility. While its first Toronto address was at Exhibition Place, it moved to its current downtown location. The Hall Of Fame features not just artifacts of the game, but historical items like trophies and equipment. The Hall Of Fame is also the site of the NHL’s yearly induction ceremony.
Numerous museums across Canada also feature unique artifacts. One such piece of history recently caused a stir. Housed at The Canadian Museum Of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec, which is across the canal from Canada’s capital Ottawa, Ontario, is what is believed to be the oldest known hockey stick in the world. Aged at over 200 years old, this stick was bought by the museum for $300,000. Found in Sydney, Nova Scotia, this artifact is just one of many that can be found in museums across Canada.
While some artifacts are locked up in museums, other, more celebratory, pieces can be found on display in and around the home rinks of Canada’s seven NHL teams. Perhaps no city does it better than FlightHub’s home, Montreal. Between the artifacts that can be found at the location of the Montreal Forum, the old home of the Canadiens, and the numerous statues, plaques, and pieces at their new home, called the Bell Centre, one can get a taste of hockey history in downtown Montreal without even purchasing a ticket. Likewise, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers have iconic statues outside of their home arenas as well. None are as famous individually as the massive statue of Wayne Gretzky located outside of the Edmonton Oiler’s home rink.