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Reviewed by:
  • Hockey: Challenging Canada’s Game; Au-delà du sport canadien ed. by Jenny Ellison and Jennifer Anderson
  • Michel Vigneault
Ellison, Jenny, and Jennifer Anderson, eds. Hockey: Challenging Canada’s Game; Au-delà du sport canadien. Mercury Series—History Paper 58. Ottawa: The Canadian Museum of History and the University of Ottawa Press, 2018. Pp. xx+313. Illustrations, abstract, foreword, notes, bibliography, index. C$49.95, hb. C$39.99 eb.

In 2017, the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau mounted an exhibition on hockey called Hockey: More than Just a Game. This collection of academic essays is an extension of the exhibition to give another view of hockey and from more than the National Hockey League perspective. Jenny Ellison is curator of sport and leisure at the museum; she organized the exhibition along with Jennifer Anderson, an archivist at Library and Archives Canada. After connecting with scholars from the 2016 Hockey Conference, Ellison and Anderson include fifteen essays in this collection, along with seven short documents, all divided in five parts.

The first part debates the origins of the game, including its Canadian identity, mythology, Indigenous and English claims; it also discusses a parallel with lacrosse. The second part, about childhood, starts with a short document on the actual story of The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier, then presents essays about inclusion, minor-league hockey, and outdoor games. Women’s hockey is the theme of the third part, including international and recreational hockey, and a document on Hayley Wickenheiser. Titled “Whose Game?” this third part also includes a document on paralympic sledge hockey. Writing and oral media comprise the fourth part, with a Swedish survey on Canadian hockey, the Punjabi Hockey Night in Canada, and hockey’s influence on curling, as well as a survey on homophobia and sexism in the sport. The last part looks at the 1950s NHL Players Association, the Lindros case, and racism in pro hockey. Along these divisions, documents add to the discussion, such as testimonies from Native survivors of residential schools, a piece on the internet from the creator of the Hockey Database, and two short biographies on NHL stars from different eras, Maurice Richard and Joe Malone.

What is striking is how different academic authors use the same references to define Canadian hockey, such as Eric Hobsbawm’s “invented tradition” and Richard Gruneau and Bruce Kidd who have defined Canadian hockey. While many references are cited, many of the authors use the same sources. In one sense, however, this collection may help increase the number of future references since each author adds new views on hockey from different perspectives. Previously hockey was defined as white and masculine, mostly from the NHL point of view, but it is now possible to define Canadian hockey as a mirror of Canadian society (Andrew C. Holman), and from minor-league hockey (Carly Adams and Jason Laurendeau), outdoor shinny (Robert Rutherdale), the women’s game (Julie Stevens, Denyse Lafrance Horning), international organizations (Tobias Stark), paralympic sledge hockey (Emily Sadler), and minority groups (Courtney Szto and Richard Gruneau).

Three articles address the Indigenous population, either with the role of the Mi’kmaw in the origins of hockey (Paul W. Bennett) or the influence of lacrosse on hockey (Michael A. Robidoux). The novel Indian Horse is also part of Sam McKegney and Trevor J. Phillips’s study of the inclusion of Native people into organized hockey, although racism toward the novel’s main character is quite prominent. The document with testimonies from the Truth [End Page 120] and Reconciliation Commission allows us to better understand what Indian Horse had to endure in hockey.

The place of French Canadians in hockey is not very important in this book. Although the title is bilingual, only one essay is written in French, about the Lindros case, along with two documents. The introduction by Ellison and Anderson is also in English only, as is the back-cover summary. Also, in defining hockey, many authors write of whiteness in Canadian hockey, thus including English and French Canadians, while there is a distinct difference between the two linguistic groups in Canadian hockey, as Nathan Kalman- Lamb demonstrates in his interview with a French professional...


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