In order to complete the story of skating in the pre-1914 period, reference must be made to the activities in Canada, where, during the time that the Earl of Minto was Governor General, his wife started the Minto Skating Club. Here was planted the seed of preparation for the days when serious figure-skating was taken up by the Canadians, mainly during the visit of Bror Meyer to North America.
The Minto Skating Club became a rendezvous for Canadian society whose principal interest seems to have been the Valse and the Ten Step as imported from Princes Skating Club. But it was the beginning of things and it started that which produced the long line of great Canadian skaters, starting with Constance Wilson, who won the British ladies titles in the 1928 Olympic Winter Games year, with another, Miss Cecil Eustace-Smith, as runner-up. This was an event that made us all take notice. It was moreover at the Minto Skating Club that the British officers on the Governor Generals staff worked out the rules for the game of ice hockey as played today. Previous to this the game of bandy, played with a small light stick and a cork ball much the same as that which today draws great crowds in Norway and Sweden had been the only recognised team game on ice. Hockey had originally been played in France before the Revolution, on land, and was taken by French refugees and immigrants to Canada. It was then called Hoquet and had perforce to be played on ice during the long, severe winters. In 1879 McGill University adopted ice hockey as an official game and held matches on the St. Lawrence river, with 15 players a side, a number which in the passing of the years and modification of the rules was cut to 12, then to 9 and finally to 7. Originally the barrier was 8 to 12 inches high only. Now of course it is approximately 3 feet. Ice hockey was played at Princes Skating Club, which sent teams abroad to play in Paris, Berlin and Vienna.
The New Glaciariun, Melbourne, Australia Opened 16th June 1906.
The Early Years upto 1914
Nowadays the game draws large gates, and in Canada and the United States occupies very much the position of soccer over here, although in this country at the moment its popularity seems to be on the wane: it was included in the Winter Olympic Games held at Cortina in February, 1956. In this regard it is of interest to note that the British Army team which was chosen to represent Britain in the first Winter Games held at Chamonix in the Haute-Savoie in February, 1924, was the only one to score a goal against the all-conquering Canadians who of course won the series. The French Press had a marvelous cartoon in which one saw distant figures playing hockey, and close up, the goal posts, with two enormous, well-padded legs and two hands holding up a newspaper The Montreal Star.
The modern ice hockey stick is 53 inches from the top to the heel and has a straight, flat blade. The Puck as it is called is made of vulcanised rubber half an inch thick and 21/2 inches in diameter, weighing 6 ounces. It is the final result of many changes since the original cork ball, and the speed at which it travels over the ice must be seen to be believed. Ice hockey is said to be the fastest game played by man on his own feet and a good open game by two well-matched sides demonstrates a magnificent example of speed, dexterity and courage.