Canadian Museum of History shoots, scores with a major league exhibition about hockey in Canada


From shinny on small ponds to all-star games in giant arenas, hockey in Canada is much more than a sport. It’s a national and personal obsession that brings us together at centre ice, in our living rooms and rinkside — playing, watching, cheering when our team wins and taking it personally when we lose. That’s why, amidst Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations, the puck drops on Hockey at the Canadian Museum of History.

From March 10 to October 9, 2017, this wide-ranging exhibition will illuminate the origins of Canada’s national winter sport. It will demonstrate how it continues to change and why it matters so much to Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

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“Regardless of geography or language, age or background, Canadians everywhere live and breathe hockey, playing it, watching it and reading about it,” explains Jean-Marc Blais, Director General of the Canadian Museum of History. “Hockey is at the heart of our culture, intertwined with our history and our national identity. It’s only fitting to celebrate this quintessentially Canadian game alongside Canada’s 150th birthday. In view of the Hockey exhibition and the upcoming opening on July 1 of our new signature gallery, the Canadian History Hall, this is a great year to visit the Canadian Museum of History.”

“The new Hockey exhibition celebrates the history and culture of our country as we mark Canada 150,” says the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. “It highlights a sport that has helped bring together Canadians from all communities.”

Hockey features 280 artifacts — some never before displayed in public — that tell the story of the game’s cross-cultural roots and its central role in Canadian communities and popular culture. Some of these historical and contemporary treasures are from the Museum of History’s own collections. Others are from 50 lenders, including private collectors like Mike Wilson “The Ultimate Leafs Fan,” Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, the Musées de la civilisation and Library and Archives Canada.

The star artifacts that anchor Hockey are sure-fire crowd-pleasers. They include Jacques Plante’s revolutionary “pretzel” goalie mask; five-time Olympic medallist Hayley Wickenheiser’s skates and Maurice “Rocket” Richard’s All-Star jersey and Hall of Fame and Stanley Cup rings. But these treasures carry weightier messages as well, about innovations in player safety, the growth of women’s hockey, cultural politics and the power of media in the world of hockey.

Also among the artifacts not to be missed ― and which will only be presented at the Museum of History ― is the jersey worn by Paul Henderson when he entered Canadian hockey history by scoring the game-winning goal in the final minute of play during the eighth and final game of the 1972 Summit Series.

Other objects, from singer Shania Twain’s hockey-inspired stage costumes to hockey cards and table hockey games, confirm the sport’s remarkable cultural influence far beyond the rink, and encourage visitors to consider what Canadians’ love of the game reveals about us as a people.

Historic highlight reels, photographs, memorabilia and popular hockey-related songs and movies round out the exhibition, whose layout suggests the inside of an arena. Each of the eight zones immerses visitors in an engaging experience as they stickhandle their way through the many aspects of hockey.

This unprecedented collection of artifacts from Canada’s game, along with the exhibition’s historical, social and cultural dimensions, will appeal to visitors of all ages, as will the many family-friendly, hockey-themed public programs organized in conjunction with the exhibition.

Hockey is at the Canadian Museum of History from March 10 to October 9, 2017. The exhibition was developed by the Canadian Museum of History and is presented in partnership with Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex. The exhibition will travel to Pointe-à-Callière and beyond following its presentation in Gatineau.

Located on the shores of the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec, the Canadian Museum of History welcomes over 1.2 million visitors each year. The Museum’s principal role is to enhance Canadians’ knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the events, experiences, people and objects that have shaped Canada’s history and identity, as well as to enhance Canadians’ awareness of world history and culture. Work of the Canadian Museum of History is made possible in part through financial support of the Government of Canada.