Towards the end of the 19th century, the Métis way of life underwent dramatic change as the bison disappeared from the plains, urban and industrial development spread rapidly to Western Canada and transportation became mechanized. Just as the Métis adapted to these new socio-economic conditions, they also adopted new sports that were popular throughout Canada, such as baseball and hockey. The Métis liked sports for the same reasons as other Canadians: the discipline of playing by the rules; the sense of belonging to a club or village and of acknowledging one’s roots; there was also of course the fun of the game and, last but not least, the joy of winning!
Towards the end of the 19th century, the Métis way of life underwent dramatic change as the bison disappeared from the plains, urban and industrial development spread rapidly to Western Canada and transportation became mechanized. Just as the Métis adapted to these new socio-economic conditions, they also adopted new sports that were popular throughout Canada, such as baseball and hockey. The Métis liked sports for the same reasons as other Canadians: the discipline of playing by the rules; the sense of belonging to a club or village and of acknowledging one’s roots; there was also of course the fun of the game and, last but not least, the joy of winning!

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

In Northern European countries, people first began to skate in the 12th century. Native peoples used bone skates well before the Europeans came to North America, bringing with them skates with iron blades. By the beginning of the 19th century, skating on the frozen waterways of the colonies was well established as a winter pastime for everyone.

People of many nations on both sides of the Atlantic knew how to skate. They also invented a variety of team sports, played with a ball and a stick, on grass or on ice. In Europe, the Scots played shinty, the Irish played hurley (or hurling), and the English played bandy. In North American Native cultures, both men and women played a kind of shinny on grass, rather like hockey without skates.
In Northern European countries, people first began to skate in the 12th century. Native peoples used bone skates well before the Europeans came to North America, bringing with them skates with iron blades. By the beginning of the 19th century, skating on the frozen waterways of the colonies was well established as a winter pastime for everyone.

People of many nations on both sides of the Atlantic knew how to skate. They also invented a variety of team sports, played with a ball and a stick, on grass or on ice. In Europe, the Scots played shinty, the Irish played hurley (or hurling), and the English played bandy. In North American Native cultures, both men and women played a kind of shinny on grass, rather like hockey without skates.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Canadian hockey evolved from those sports. It was first developed in Nova Scotia in the 19th century, and was played in Montreal and Ottawa in 1875 and 1880. The immigrants to Canada who moved West in the late 19th century took the popular game along with them, and it was being played in Winnipeg and Victoria by 1890. Given the multicultural roots of hockey, it is not surprising that one of Canada’s greatest players at the turn of the 20th century was a Métis from St. Boniface, Antoine "Tony" Gingras.

The earliest rinks were built in both St. Boniface and Winnipeg in the 1870s. St. Boniface College built the first rink, and so it seems very likely that local hockey was first played there. "Tony" Gingras, who became famous in the annals of Canadian hockey, was a student at the College. He said that when he was twelve, in 1888, he made a stick from a little tree and cut a slice from a rubber lacrosse ball for a puck. That was before the official start of hockey in the Canadian West.
Canadian hockey evolved from those sports. It was first developed in Nova Scotia in the 19th century, and was played in Montreal and Ottawa in 1875 and 1880. The immigrants to Canada who moved West in the late 19th century took the popular game along with them, and it was being played in Winnipeg and Victoria by 1890. Given the multicultural roots of hockey, it is not surprising that one of Canada’s greatest players at the turn of the 20th century was a Métis from St. Boniface, Antoine "Tony" Gingras.

The earliest rinks were built in both St. Boniface and Winnipeg in the 1870s. St. Boniface College built the first rink, and so it seems very likely that local hockey was first played there. "Tony" Gingras, who became famous in the annals of Canadian hockey, was a student at the College. He said that when he was twelve, in 1888, he made a stick from a little tree and cut a slice from a rubber lacrosse ball for a puck. That was before the official start of hockey in the Canadian West.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

There were over thirty hockey teams in Winnipeg and St. Boniface. Teams travelled to Eastern Canada to compete as early as 1892. "Tony" Gingras, playing right wing, was a top scorer for the Winnipeg Victorias. In 1901, the Vics won the Stanley Cup and the national championship against the Montreal Shamrocks in a best of three series. Gingras was an exceedingly agile player. The enthusiasm generated by this French-speaking Métis is believed to have contributed to the creation of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team. He was also credited with an innovative new hockey stick of a much more modern design.

After his playing days were over, "Tony" Gingras dedicated himself to coaching minor league teams at the Union Canadienne of St. Boniface as well as at St. Boniface College. He also became a scout for the Montreal Canadiens.
There were over thirty hockey teams in Winnipeg and St. Boniface. Teams travelled to Eastern Canada to compete as early as 1892. "Tony" Gingras, playing right wing, was a top scorer for the Winnipeg Victorias. In 1901, the Vics won the Stanley Cup and the national championship against the Montreal Shamrocks in a best of three series. Gingras was an exceedingly agile player. The enthusiasm generated by this French-speaking Métis is believed to have contributed to the creation of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team. He was also credited with an innovative new hockey stick of a much more modern design.

After his playing days were over, "Tony" Gingras dedicated himself to coaching minor league teams at the Union Canadienne of St. Boniface as well as at St. Boniface College. He also became a scout for the Montreal Canadiens.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Hockey Team

Senior Hockey, The Winnipeg Victorias, champions of Canada and winners of the Stanley Cup in 1901. The famous Métis player, Antoine "Tony" Gingras, of St. Boniface, standing, 2nd from right.

Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and Museum

© Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and Museum


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe the origins and early history of hockey;
  • Explain how hockey came to be enjoyed by the Métis Nation;
  • Relate the names and accomplishments of historical figures associated with Métis hockey;
  • Explain the significance of traditional sports and games to the Métis Nation.

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