Canada's Game

Canada's Game: Hockey and Identity

Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 236
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  • Book Info
    Canada's Game
    Book Description:

    Contributors include Julian Ammirante (Laurentian University at Georgian), Jason Blake (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia), Robert Dennis (Queen's University), Jamie Dopp (University of Victoria), Russell Field (University of Manitoba), Greg Gillespie (Brock University), Richard Harrison (Mount Royal College), Craig Hyatt (Brock University), Brian Kennedy (Pasadena City College), Karen E.H. Skinazi (University of Alberta), and Julie Stevens (Brock University).

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7591-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acronyms
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction: Canada’s Game? Hockey and the Problem of Identity
    (pp. 3-9)

    In April 2004 , the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS/AEC) held a one-day symposium at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (CMC) in Gatineau, Quebec, on the heady subject: “The Rocket.” The scholarly event was timed to coincide with the grand opening of the CMC’s exhibit on the life and times of the Montreal Canadiens superstar and Quebec nationalist icon Maurice Richard, a massive production that occupied a special exhibitions gallery for more than ten months (and probably would have continued to draw visitors had it remained there longer). Significantly, this event was the first time that the interdisciplinary (and normally...

    • 1 Big Liners and Beer Gardens: The Port Arthur Bear Cats, Shamateurism, and the Selection Controversy Surrounding Canada’s 1936 Olympic Hockey Team
      (pp. 10-25)

      Rather than dreaming of Olympic gold, the 1936 Port Arthur Bear Cats dreamt of big transatlantic ocean liners and overflowing German beer gardens. Their dreams came from a sense of complacency after more than a decade of Canadian dominance in Olympic hockey. Beginning with the Winnipeg Falcons in 1920, the Canadian Olympic hockey team won every Olympic gold prior to 1936 and, in numerous cases, dominated its international competition. The Bear Cats, from the small, close-knit Northern Ontario community of Port Arthur, had every reason to feel confident, even convinced, of their impending gold medal at the 1936 Olympic Games...

    • 2 Are Americans Really Hockey’s Villains? A New Perspective on the American Influence on Canada’s National Game
      (pp. 26-43)

      A great deal of discussion within Canadian academic and popular press forums addresses the impact of American interest upon hockey. Since the 1970s, academics have noted that many Canadians feel threatened by what they perceive as a growing negative American influence upon the sport that many consider to be the heart of Canadian culture and identity. Theorists have examined changes such as the National Hockey League’s control over Canadian amateur hockey (Kidd and Macfarlane 1972), hockey becoming more commercialized within the global marketplace (Gruneau and Whitson 1993), the relocation of a Canadian NHL team to an American city (Silver 1996;...

    • 3 Confronting a Compelling Other: The Summit Series and the Nostalgic (Trans)Formation of Canadian Identity
      (pp. 44-62)

      The issue of Canadian identity came to the forefront in the 1990 s in a series of beer advertisements that have gone well beyond their intention to sell a few suds. The “I am Canadian” campaign, premiered by Molson, features a young man standing in front of the camera “passionately inform[ing] Canadians as to what distinguishes them from Americans and renders them unique as celebrated Canucks” (Manning, EPI ).¹ The ad created a popular culture phenomenon and spawned a merchandising spin-off campaign that featured the slogan emblazoned on everything from T-shirts to bedroom slippers.² In one of the more recent...

    • 4 “Just part of the game”: Depictions of Violence in Hockey Prose
      (pp. 63-80)

      Much academic writing on sports sets out to explode the myth of the sports world as a utopian play-realm. At its best, play and its realm is autotelic, unmotivated by material interest. As Bernard Suits (1978 , 15 ) writes inThe Grasshopper: Games, Life, and Utopia,“for ‘play’ we could substitute the expression ‘doing things we value for their own sake.’” We do not often play shinny because we have to or because we want to gain something concrete or specific by giving ourselves over to play’s frivolity. It is because of this freedom from external forces that Friedrich...

    • 5 Win Orr Lose: Searching for the Good Canadian Kid in Canadian Hockey Fiction
      (pp. 81-97)

      One of the basic functions of literature is to allow writers and readers “to experiment with possible selves … to learn to take our places in the real world, to play our parts there” (Miller 1990, 69). Stories of initiation, of growing up, of coming to a new understanding in middle age or at the moment of death – all these kinds of fictions are basically about offering models for what it means to live a good life. When these kinds of stories take place in a hockey setting, the question of what it means to be a good person (a...

    • 6 The Mystery of a Canadian Father of Hockey Stories: Leslie McFarlane’s Break Away from the Hardy Boys
      (pp. 98-125)

      Leslie McFarlane, born in 1902 in Carleton Place, Ontario, was deeply invested in his Canadianness. His many careers reflect his passion: in his 1940s work for theCanadian Theatre of the Air(writing scripts for the radio) and his job with Canada’s Department of Munitions and Supply (writing speeches for the public relations department), McFarlane spent a great deal of time turning the culture of his country into a language for the people. He also turned that culture into accessible images; working for the National Film Board of Canada, he travelled the country making films about nationally acclaimed personages and...

    • 7 “There’s more people here tonight than at a first night of the Metropolitan”: Professional Hockey Spectatorship in the 1920s and 1930s in New York and Toronto
      (pp. 126-150)

      A similar refrain echoes among scholars who studied commercial sports in North America during the interwar years. The task of identifying who spectators were and what the experience of spectating was during this time period is as difficult as it was in the late nineteenth century. Nevertheless, the late 1920s and early 1930s witnessed a rapid growth in spectator sports facilities in the major urban centres of Canada and the United States. This was especially the case in ice hockey.

      Given hockey’s trumpeted historical and cultural importance (some might say persistence) in Canada, surprisingly little Canadian scholarship focuses on the...

    • 8 Between a Puck and a Showpiece: Spectator Sport and the Differing Responses to Hockey (and Its Absence) in Canada and the United States – A Canadian Poet Looks at the Fate of the Game
      (pp. 151-160)

      In the early 1950s, sociologist Leon Festinger infiltrated a doomsday cult. The resulting book,When Prophecy Fails, examines the history of a faith from prophetic birth to earthly disappointment and beyond (Festinger 1964 ). It’s not often that we get the chance to see the faithful gather at the origin of their creed, grow as their religion is revealed, react to the failure of its predictions, and finally dissolve – all within a lifetime. Festinger’s cult gave us that chance. The NHL is offering another – except for “the world will end soon” read “hockey will become America’s fourth major sport.”


    • 9 Forever Proud? The Montreal Canadiens’ Transition from the Forum to the Molson Centre
      (pp. 161-179)

      As a part of social history, sports such as football in Great Britain or cricket in the West Indies have long provided a lens to study expressions of a nation’s ethos (see James 1963; Vamplew 1988). Given its popularity and pervasiveness, hockey offers a comparable window into Canadian society and culture. While studies of this variety are becoming increasingly prevalent in the academic literature, there have been few attempts to connect the buildings where this sport is played to wider cultural-historical investigations. These buildings often transcend their exclusive designation as athletic venues and operate as cultural ones: the Forum, once...

    • 10 Manufacturing Players and Controlling Sports: An Interpretation of the Political Economy of Hockey and the 2004 NHL Lockout
      (pp. 180-210)

      That hockey is a commodity is obvious. Yet there is also a prevalent notion that there is something unique about certain sport commodities and sporting events and that this enables them to be set apart from ordinary commodities like automobiles or cell phones.¹ While the boundary between these two types of commodities is quite permeable, there has been a certain stubbornness in maintaining an analytical separation. Perhaps this is because we cannot equate athletes and the display of their special talents with workers engaging in mass production for mass consumption.

      Nonetheless, despite our propensity, as sports fans, to be nostalgic,...

  8. References
    (pp. 211-228)
  9. Contributors
    (pp. 229-232)
  10. Index
    (pp. 233-236)