After meeting specific requirements, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) proclaimed that hockey’s first official game took place in Montreal on March 3, 1875.
The specifications about the size of the rink then and now, remain the same.
Hockey historians researched who was most responsible for this first hockey game. In 1936, researchers interviewed 81-year-old Henry Joseph, one of the last survivors of that first game.
Joseph has a Summerland connection as he gave real estate advice to Sir Thomas Shaughnessy on the founding of Summerland.
Joseph bought properties in Prairie Valley and Victoria Gardens (Turner Street to Quinpool Road) in 1903. His own property was part of Millionaires’ Row in Prairie Valley.
During the interview, Joseph kindly stated that James Creighton was the “leading spirit” in that first hockey game.
However, Joseph also has a connection to the origins of the sport.
In Montreal, Joseph was a well-known, star athlete. In 1872 he was a star runner in Montreal’s “Long Race.”
In 1874 he played in the first official football game; McGill versus Harvard. The rules of the game were altered as the game continued, with Joseph’s assistance.
In February 1875, he founded Ice Lacrosse, a sport faster than hockey. A month later was the famous first hockey game.
The rink was the Victoria Skating Rink, three blocks from Joseph’s home.
Two years later Joseph, Creighton and two other McGill students wrote the new rules of hockey, similar to what Joseph had done with football.
In 1882, Joseph promoted lacrosse, our national sport, and participated in the early days of the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament.
In 1917, at the Windsor Hotel, across the street from the Victoria Skating Rink, the National Hockey League and the Montreal Canadiens were formed. Joseph was the president of the Windsor Hotel.
Joseph died in Montreal in 1951, at the age of 96.
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