Sunday, March 22, 2009

Honoring the Father of Hockey

This post was contributed by Holly McCarthy, who writes for the Sports Management College. She invites your feedback at hollymccarthy12 at gmail dot com.

Honoring the Father of Hockey

Have you heard of James Creighton? Well if you haven't, you need to brush up on your hockey history. After all, Creighton is the man credited for spreading hockey across Canada in the 1800s. Now folks in Ottawa (where Creighton is buried) want to raise the funds to erect a monument to mark the currently-unmarked grave of one of Canada's most famous "forefathers."

The Ottawa hockey history buffs pushing for the monument are doing it alone. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has given his endorsement of the project. They have been granted permission to erect a memorial at Ottawa's Beechwood Cemetery.

The group needs more than permission, however. They are several thousand dollars short of the money they need to buy the grave marker for Creighton. No one is looking for anything extravagant. The Society for International Hockey Research (SIHR) says it would just like a small marker that includes his birth and death dates, a line about his role in the history of hockey, and two crossed hockey sticks.

You may be wondering how this could have happened to someone as important to the cultural fabric of Canada as Creighton.

Well, it seems his wife died one week before he did, and the couple had no children. So, after his death in Ottawa in 1930, there was no one to place a grave stone.

Conversely, in Lawrence, Kansas, there's a huge memorial dedicated to James Naismith, the Canadian-born inventor of basketball, who died in 1939 and who is buried nearby. Naismith’s grave is surrounded by a dozen stone benches, and there is a tall monument with a plaque. There is also a life-sized statue of Naismith. It's not what most would call modest.

Creighton was born in Halifax in 1850 and played in the world's first indoor hockey match, held in Montreal in March 1875. He later developed the sport's official rules and was single-handedly responsible for spreading the game across Canada and introducing it to everyone along the way.

The guy deserves a memorial so the world knows he was here.

SIHR is taking donations with the ambitious goal of having something in place before the end of 2009.
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