That one shouted word is an iconic Canadian experience.
Other nationalities don’t get it, but you can always find a Canadian in a foreign crowd by shouting it. The person with the broadest smile is one of us. It’s that shared memory that takes us back to frozen, salt-covered streets and the games of our childhood.
Happily, some of us live close enough to the birthplace of hockey that we can watch the annual Long Pond Classic (January 21, 2017). “Classic” because Long Pond, Windsor, Nova Scotia, is where hockey was invented and where adherents make an annual pilgrimage to honour the national passion.
We know hockey was first played here thanks to the diaries and writings of Judge Thomas Chandler Haliburton. Haliburton attended Kings College in Windsor from 1800-1810. In his 1844 book The Attache, Haliburton included this description: “…you boys let out racin’, yelpin’, hollerin’, and whoopin’ like mad with pleasure and the play-ground, and the game at base in the fields, or hurley on the long pond on the ice…”
Hurley is an Irish game, played with a curved stick and ball. Coincidentally, it’s also often played of low-traffic roads. The boys he refers to are students at Kings College, Windsor.
In a previous book, The Clockmaker, published in 1836 Haliburton wrote of “playing ball on ice”.
These are the first references of a game on ice using sticks and balls. Later newspaper letters by schoolmates of Haliburton wrote of “skating on the long ponds”. One wrote, “I recollect John Cunard (brother of Sir Samuel of Steamship fame) having his front teeth knocked out with a hurley by Pete Delancey, of Annapolis.”
These accounts give Windsor and Long Pond the unequivocal historic claim as the birthplace of hockey.
The Long Pond Classic celebrates this heritage. Whether you lace up or watch, the Classic is a fun experience because it replaces the pressures of profit-driven professionalism with the genuine feel of friends having fun. It is the game at its purist and most authentic.
And just as they have for 200 years, students from Kings – now Kings Edgehill – cross the same farm fields to play on Long Pond.
For information about Long Pond and hockey’s heritage, click to: