The second part of the hockey pilgrimage began upon my arrival in Montreal from Kingston. To see the first post CLICK HERE.
Like Kingston, Montreal has strong roots in the development of the game we know today. It is known as the birthplace of modern hockey which has been backed by both the Society for International Hockey Research and the International Ice Hockey Federation. One of the biggest reasons it was called this is that it was the home of the first game of modern ice hockey, played indoors at the Victoria Skating Rink between members of the Skating Rink’s club.
The game was played with 2 teams that had 9 players on each side including the goalie. Referees watched over a set of rules that were put in place. The players used pucks to play rather than balls which was common at the time. This game took place on March 3rd, 1875.
The building was of much more importance than just the one game. It was the first public building in Canada to be electrified, hosted the first ever Stanley Cup championship in 1892/1893 season and the dimensions of the rink were the model size for our rinks today.
In 1896 telegraph wires were connected to broadcast the Stanley Cup game between Montreal and Winnipeg teams. Boards displaying play by play were set up in 4 cities and birthed the first time sports were broadcast in the world.
This is the location of where the Victoria Skating Rink used to be. It was in between Drummond and Stanley Streets just North-West of what is now Rene-Levesque Boulevard (Dorchester Blvd. then). The deterioration of the building caused the sale of the building many times before ending up in the hands of an owner who knocked down the building to build a parking garage which still sits their today.
Another stop on our trip was also unfortunately no longer with us. The famous Montreal Forum was home to 24 Stanley Cup Champions by the Montreal Canadiens(22) and the Montreal Maroons(2).
The Forum was opened in 1924 and hosted the first game at the new rink with the Canadiens facing the Toronto St Pats. The building was closed in 1996 when it was used for filming before being converted into an entertainment complex and renamed the Pepsi Forum.
In 1997 the building was designated as a National Historic site due to its recognition as the most famous sporting venue in Canada.
A trip to Montreal is not complete without having some authentic Montreal Bagels. St-Viateur Bagels has been in operation since 1957 and has grown to several locations in the city. The original is located at 263 St-Viateur West and has become a huge tourist attraction. They are now open 24 hours a day 7 days a week for your bagel eating pleasure.
The next part of our trip will be in Halifax. We will check out Long Pond where the first mention of hockey being played took place. We will also visit the home rink of Sidney Crosby, the Nova Scotia Sports Museum and some of the lakes where the Mi’qmacs native to the area played and built sticks for the game.
Next stop Halifax, Nova Scotia birthplace of Hockey?