View Single Post
02-08-2014, 10:20 PM
Iain Fyffe
Hockey fact-checker
Iain Fyffe's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Fredericton, NB
Country: Canada
Posts: 3,469
vCash: 500
Once again, I hope no one minds me digging up old threads I missed the first time around...

Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
In the "Turning Back Hockey's Pages" profile from February 7, 1935, D.A.L. MacDonald proposes Robert F. Smith - 1881 McGill, 1885 M.A.A.A. as the "Father of the Modern Game of Hockey".

Rather detailed and interesting account based on recollections.
This provides an excellent example of why relying on recollections, especially 50-plus-year-old recollections, is inadvisable.

I recently wrote a book about the early history of hockey rules, and therein I discuss the Smith claim, as well as related claims by Chick Murray and William Fleet Robertson, contemporaries of Smith's at McGill. Between the timing they claim (1879, four years after the first organized game was played in Montreal) and the nature of the rules themselves, there's no reason to accept these claims. There are serious issues with them, and cannot be taken at face value. The game was already going when Smith and Murray started playing.

In his doctoral dissertation, Michel Vigneault concludes that the Smith et all claims have too many problems to be considered accurate, and that the best candidate for the father of modern hockey is James Creighton. I have to agree with that assessment.

Come to think of it I posted an excerpt on my blog about this.

Originally Posted by Killion View Post
Sounds about right to me as the earliest recorded account of rules actually being crafted however it still makes for highly entertaining debate what with the Nova Scotian claims of Dr. Garth Vaughan of the Windsor Hockey Heritage Society. Purportedly going back to 1800 when the author of a novel called The Attache' (Thomas Haliburton - published 1844) recalls "Ice Hurley on Long Pond" near Kings College. A brief conversation in the book between two characters, one Sam Slick & Squire Poker. Sam there actually an American up from Connecticut where its entirely possible he was playing "Ice Hurley" even earlier than 1800 on Long Pond.
I'm very glad to see this being portrayed for what it is, a passage from a novel, not a memoir as Vaughan stubbornly continued to claim. And it wasn't even the character who grew up in Nova Scotia reminiscing about his fictional childhood in the novel, it was the other character guessing about that character's childhood. Rather unconvincing evidence for such a specific claim.

Originally Posted by Killion View Post
Then in 1866 you had the Starr Skating Company along with US Patents of that era, Atlas Aluminum etc again all pre-dating Montreal & Kingston Ontario. Dr. Vaughan & others claim the game was well established including the rules, just werent actually written down or if so lost, might still turn-up huh C58?
In the 1940s a newspaper reported the recollections of an 1860s Halifax resident about the rules of the game played back then. Unfortunately those rules contained some anachronisms and two rules that were absolutely contradictory in the context of early hockey: forward passing was allowed, but the player had to remain onside at all times.

Based on what we do know about early Nova Scotia rules, they did not have an offside rule, so forward passing was allowed. But this contradiction results in the entire thing being of questionable validity, as 70-year-old memories usually are. The most likely scenario is that Nova Scotia hockey developed out of the earlier game of ricket or wicket, and when the Old Chebuctos of Dartmouth came back from their games in Montreal in 1889, they brought the Montreal version of the game back with them, which soon took over.

Iain Fyffe is offline   Reply With Quote