Hockey is a beloved Canadian pastime, a rite of passage for kids, the heartbeat of small towns, an economic engine in big cities and a source of patriotic pride that so permeates our culture, we might call it a national obsession. But how did this sport come to be Canada’s game? What does our love of hockey reveal about us as a people? These questions and more will be explored in Hockey in Canada – More Than Just a Game, an exhibition developed by the Canadian Museum of History that celebrates the sport’s evolution and its widespread appeal.
The puck drops on March 3, 2017 at the Museum of History — 150 years after Canadian Confederation and 100 years after the birth of the National Hockey League.
“With Hockey in Canada – More Than Just a Game, we want to step back and look at the big picture: hockey’s cross-cultural origins, its historical impact and its place in our daily lives and in the collective psyche of Canadians,” said Jean-Marc Blais, Director General of the Canadian Museum of History. “It’s not about which team has won the most Stanley Cups, or which elite players have scored the most goals or the richest contracts. It’s about why Canadians love to play and watch hockey. It’s about team spirit, the fans and the emotional appeal. It’s about hockey’s role in our society and even in international diplomacy. It’s about why hockey matters to Canadians.”
The exhibition will feature items from the Museum’s National Collection and other Canadian memory institutions. The overarching motifs of community, family and popular culture will be anchored by star objects, not so much to glorify hockey’s heroes as to show their enduring influence. Jacques Plante’s “pretzel” goalie mask will illustrate innovations in player safety, while Hayley Wickenheiser’s skates will represent the growth of women’s hockey and the commitments and challenges of hockey families. Maurice “Rocket” Richard’s jersey and his Hall of Fame and Stanley Cup rings represent the relevance to hockey of politics, identity and the power of media.
Other one-of-a-kind artifacts, such as singer Shania Twain’s hockey-inspired stage costumes, plus hockey cards, souvenirs and table hockey games show far-reaching cultural impacts beyond the rink. These objects, along with video clips of historic highlights, memorabilia and more, will add up to an exciting, interactive experience that evokes the smell of sweat, the flick of a wrist-shot and the roar of a Canadian crowd.
Hockey in Canada – More Than Just a Game will be presented at the Canadian Museum of History from March 3 to October 9, 2017.