Society for International Hockey Research

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The Society for International Hockey Research (SIHR) is a network of writers, statisticians, collectors, broadcasters, academics and ice hockey buffs. The Society, based in Toronto, Ontario, has an international membership. The Society cultivates and encourages the study of ice hockey. The Society has been prominent in determining the origins of ice hockey.



The Society was formed in 1991. A group of 17 members attending the Canadian Association of Sports Heritage meeting at Kingston, Ontario, met in a special session with the aim of founding an organization dedicated to promoting, developing and encouraging the study of hockey, to establish an accurate historical account of the game, and to assist in the dissemination of the findings and studies derived from member research. Under the leadership of founding president Bill Fitsell, a retired journalist with the Kingston Whig-Standard, SIHR’s general objectives were: "To encourage and cultivate the study of ice hockey as an important athletic and social institution in Canada and other countries in which it was played." A six-page, 25-article Constitution, written by secretary Ed Grenda, was adopted at Montreal on May 22, 1993.

Among the charter members, also known as the "Kingston 17," were representatives from three provinces (New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario) and two states (Illinois and New York). In its fledgling year, the society membership grew to 29 and in its second year the roster of 52 could be typed on one page. SIHR's membership list today stands at more than 550, with members in all ten Canadian provinces, 31 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, plus Australia, England, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Scotland, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales. SIHR counts among its members a former Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper. [1]

At its 2001 annual meeting, SIHR struck a committee to examine the claim of Windsor, Nova Scotia, to be the birthplace of ice hockey. The committee's report, released in May 2002, that the Windsor proponents had not offered credible evidence that the town was the birthplace of hockey. [2] The report expressed no opinion on when or where hockey originated. [3]

The SIHR committee indicated that the March 3, 1875 game at the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal was the earliest documented ice hockey game that it was aware of. "It is the earliest eyewitness account known, at least to this SIHR committee, of a specific game of hockey in a specific place at a specific time, and with a recorded score, between two identified teams." [3]

In 2003, SIHR started developing its statistical database, available to members on its web site. Starting with the paper records of SIHR members Ernie Fitzsimmons, John Patton and Pat Conway, combined with the input of a 10,000 player database developed by Dave Weigum, SIHR's database has grown to include hundreds of thousands, coaches and officials. The database includes statistics dating back to the 1886-87 season for various professional, semi-professional and amateur male and female leagues. The player profiles include notes, bios and in some cases photos. [4]

In 2008, the Society launched a campaign to raise funds to erect a monument to hockey pioneer James George Aylwin Creighton, whose grave in Ottawa's Beechwood Cemetery remained unmarked. On October 24, 2009, a grave marker was unveiled, as was a biographical plaque near the gravesite. [5]

Society activities

The Society is managed by a board of directors. The board is elected by SIHR members at the Annual General Meeting (AGM). Terms for the positions of President and Vice-President are valid for two years, while all other positions are voted on annually. The current officers of the Executive Board include President Fred Addis, Executive Vice-President William Sproule, Secretary Aubrey Ferguson and Treasurer Bryan Lawrence. [6]

The organization holds two formal meetings a year. The Society holds the AGM each spring in various locations around North America. The AGM serves to give attending members a summary of the actions of the past year, and features research presentations by members and guest speakers. The Society also holds an annual fall meeting. The May 2016 AGM marked the organization's twenty-fifth anniversary and was held in Kingston, Ontario, at the Memorial Hall on the upper level of Kingston City Hall.

Brian McFarlane Award

In 1995 the society created the Brian McFarlane Award, named for its first honorary president in appreciation of his support for SIHR and his ongoing contribution to the preservation of hockey history. The award recognizes outstanding research and writing by SIHR members. It is presented at the annual general membership meeting each spring.


1995Glen Goodhand
1996Michel Vigneault
1997Ernie Fitzsimmons
1998Roger Godin
1999Lenard Kotylo
2000Paul Kitchen
2001Don Reddick
2002Bill Martin
2003John Paton
2004Joseph Nieforth
2005Eric Zweig
2006 J.W. (Bill) Fitsell
2007Martin Harris
2008Paul Patskou
2009Paul Kitchen
2010Patrick Houda and Carl Gidén
2011Jim Mancuso
2012Kevin Shea
2013Marc Durand
2014Craig Bowlsby
2015Carl Gidén, Patrick Houda and Jean-Patrice Martel
2016Iain Fyffe
2017Todd Denault
2018Stephen Smith
2019Jason Farris
2020L. Waxy Gregoire

Source: SIHR [7]

The Paul Kitchen Award

SIHR created this award in 2016 to honour past-president Paul Kitchen, in recognition of his efforts to promote and preserve hockey history within and outside of the SIHR.

The award recognizes the best research project produced during the past calendar year. The criteria for a qualifying project has been expanded to include any digital form of expression (website, blog, Facebook page, etc.) in addition to the previous criteria of book or documentary formats. One need not be a member of SIHR to be nominated for this award, but only members in good standing may nominate candidates.


2020Jason Farris
2019Stephen Hardy and Andrew Holman
2018Mike Commito
2017Howard Shubert
2016Eric Zweig

The Bill Fitsell President's Award

The President's Award was created in 2011 and is awarded to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the Society. The winner is selected by the sitting president. At the 2016 annual general meeting, it was renamed to honour founding president Bill Fitsell.


2011Lloyd Davis and Paul Bruno
2012Mark Kihn
2013Wilbrod Despres and R.J. Pratt
2014Denis Gibbons
2015Ron Leger
2016Glen Goodhand
2017Kevin Shea
2018Ernie Fitzsimmons
2019James Milks
2020Benoît Clairoux

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