Hockey is an important part of Canadian culture that has been bringing people together for years, and an exhibit at the Diefenbaker Canada Centre demonstrates just how special hockey has been to this country.
The exhibit, titled Hockey: A Common Goal, was created by the Canadian Museum of History and is meant to celebrate the history of hockey in Canada, to examine how the sport has influenced pop culture and to highlight the players who have had key roles in making hockey what it is to Canadians.
Adrienne Briggs, a museum curator at the DCC, explains that the exhibit will be of interest to all Canadians, whether they play hockey or not.
“Hockey just connects [us] on so many different levels,” Briggs said. “You have the professional league, and then you have backyard rinks, and you have indoor and outdoor, boys and girls — not to mention different types and styles — so everyone can connect to it, [whether] you play it or don’t.”
The exhibit might even be able to teach avid hockey fans something they did not know about the history and culture of the sport. Christian Pollock, a fourth-year political studies student and museum docent with the DCC, explains why the centre wanted to display the hockey exhibit.
“When this exhibit was coming around, we were looking for one that would connect to different people and be popular, so obviously, having something like hockey is really interesting. And, people know a lot about professional hockey, but maybe the actual history and sociology of hockey is still a little unfamiliar to some people,” Pollock said.
According to the exhibit, hockey evolved in Canada from Indigenous and European ball-and-stick games, and it has been played widely since leagues began forming in the late 1800s.
Pollock discusses why hockey is such an integral part of Canadian culture.
“[Hockey] is very unique to Canada — how it became popular because of our climate, and the certain people that came to Canada who played ball-and-stick games, and mixing that with our weather was a very quintessential Canadian sport that wasn’t really popularized anywhere else,” Pollock said. “It was a truly Canadian origin, in that sense.”
Some things that you will see at the exhibit are memorabilia of all kinds, biographies of key Canadian players — such as Maurice “Rocket” Richard — and moments from pop culture — like Shania Twain’s Montreal Canadiens-inspired Juno Awards outfit in 2003.
Pollock describes one of the most popular parts of the exhibit.
“Along with all the panels, the CMH also sent some TV screens, and one TV screen has three very famous goals from the history of hockey. And, you can put on a headset and actually call out the game — like what the announcers said — and then, you can listen back to yourself,” Pollock said. “It’s hard and embarrassing, but it’s really fun.”
Hockey: A Common Goal will be at the DCC until April 22, displaying the impact that hockey has had on all Canadians and creating a history of the Canadian culture surrounding the sport that unites many in this country.
Briggs discusses what it is about the display that captures a part of what it means to be Canadian.
“It’s a very visual exhibit. There’s lots of big pictures and lots of colour, and while there’s a couple lines of text to compliment [the visuals], it’s mainly about the images,” Briggs said. “When you go and look at pictures of hockey, you don’t need to read the description — you know exactly what you’re looking at, because they’re such iconic moments. That speaks to the testament of hockey.”
Lyndsay Afseth / Staff Writer
Photos: Michaela DeMong