The Many Faces of the Game Today

© Steve Babineau-Dave Sandford-Doug MacLellan/Hockey Hall of Fame


When the sport now known as hockey began to emerge in Canada, it had no official name. It was being referred to variously as Hurley, Wicket, Ricket and Break-Shins. Much like the birth of the game itself, the origin of the word "hockey" is controversial. There is one school of thought that claims the word is derivative of the French word "hoquet" which means a shepherd’s crook. However, in the town of Windsor, Nova Scotia, considered one of the birthplaces of the game, a story has long circulated regarding a Colonel Hockey, stationed at the garrison on Fort Edward. The Colonel used the game to keep his troops conditioned, and the game soon adopted his name, as many referred to these workouts as "Hockey’s Game." Though there is no official documentation backing either claim, timing lends credence to the Colonel’s story. The British Army list, housed in the Library of Nova Scotia’s General Assembly in Halifax, lists a John Hockey serving in the mid-1800s when the name of the game was adopted.

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