Swedish team finds second oldest account of hockey
Hockey historians are celebrating the discovery of a document hailed as a missing link in the early evolution of the sport. Two Swedish researchers have unearthed the second-oldest written reference to hockey being played on ice, a vintage description of an 1839 game contested on a frozen river in southern Ontario near Niagara Falls.
The latest find comes from a British army officer's memoir of his years in what was then the colony of Upper Canada.
"During the winter, the skating on Chippewa Creek was excellent and added not a little to our amusement," writes Col. Richard Levigne, referring to the present-day Welland River. "Large parties contested games of hockey on ice, some 40 or 50 being ranged on each side."
Col. Levigne's description is the earliest known reference to hockey being played anywhere in southern Canada, where Halifax, Montreal and Windsor, N.S., have long battled for the right to be called the sport's "birthplace."
Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin's description of his men playing hockey on a small lake near Deline, N.W.T. remains the oldest known document in the sport's history.
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