Fight for consideration as hockey's hometown rages on in Canada, as a premier takes issue

Friday, September 22, 2006

Correction — February 9, 2007
The Northwest Territories is a Territory of Canada, not a Province as reported in the article.

Joe Handley, Premier of the Northwest Territories, accused the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) of ignoring his province in Hockey: A People's History (H:APH). From the producer of Canada: A People's History, H:APH is a ten-hour-long miniseries about the origins of Canada's most beloved past times.

The series debut, which aired Sunday on the CBC, centred on games in Nova Scotia and Montréal as being the most importantc dates for the modern game. A group of enthusiasts called the Society for International Hockey Research has long supported the competition on March 3, 1875 in Montréal as the game's birthplace. The game was describe in the news issue of the Montréal Gazette.

Handley, however, supports the Northwest Territories town of Deline as the sport's true roots. British explorer John Franklin refers to his expedition team playing "the game of hockey, played on the ice", while at Grey Goose Lake outside what is now Deline. This journal entry, discovered in 2003, was written in October 1825. The Society for International Hockey Research at the time hailed this as an important finding for sport historians.

Handley, who saw the episode on tape in his Yellowknife offices, told CanWest News Service that "I was disappointed... [the filmmakers apparently] didn't do their research."

The Member of the Legislative Assembly for an area including Deline, Norman Yakeleya, called the documentary "shameful. This is our holy grail. They didn't give any credit to the North."

While the producers were aware of the expedition, and other early games, a CBC spokesperson suggests that the choice was made as the Montreal game is "generally considered to have been clearly reflective of the modern game."

The Paul Gross-narrated documentary does make acknowledgements to stick and ball sports from Ancient Egypt, as well as golf-on-ice games in 16th-century Europe.

Halifax-Dartmouth and Windsor, both of Nova Scotia, and Kingston, Ontario are three other cities who have laid claim to the honour.