Where Was Ice Hockey Invented?

The game of ice hockey as we know it was first played on March 3rd, 1875 in Montreal, Canada. However, hockey has a long history that dates back far earlier, and experts are split about where exactly the sport was invented and originated from.

Ice hockey is the favorite sport of millions of people all over the world, especially in Canada, Europe, and the USA. It has been a popular sport for well over 100 years, and shows no signs of slowing down in terms of how much people love it.

But where was ice hockey invented? Keep reading to find out.

Key Takeaways

  • The first game of modern organized indoor ice hockey was played on March 3rd 1875 in Montreal, Canada. It was organized by James Creighton and featured two teams of nine players.
  • However, the origins of the sport date back further to games like hurling, shinty, lacrosse, and various other stick and ball games that were played around the world.
  • Many of these aforementioned sports eventually got played on the ice, which eventually morphed and evolved into ice hockey as we know it today.

Where Was Ice Hockey Invented?

The first organized game of indoor hockey was played on March 3rd 1875 at the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal, Quebec. It was organized by James Creighton, a lawyer and engineer who helped popularize the sport not only in Montreal, but also Ottawa.

The game looked very different than it does today. The teams used a flat piece of wood as a puck and there were nine players on each team. Outdoor games before were played with a ball, and didn’t have any rules about how many people could play.

Over the last 100+ years, the game has undergone many changes from more protective equipment, to stricter rules, and so much more.

An ice hockey game held at McGill University in 1884. Image credit: Wikipedia

The Origins of Ice Hockey

While ice hockey itself as an organized indoor sport was invented and first played in Canada in 1875, its history dates back much further than that. Hockey is believed to have evolved from simple stick and ball games from around the world, such as shinty, hurling, and lacrosse.

These types of games can date back thousands of years, and took place in many parts of the world. But eventually, these types of games made it to the ice. 

Exact timelines aren’t known, but there are paintings from 17th century Netherlands that depict people playing a stick and ball-type game on ice, and the sticks being used look very similar to hockey sticks.

There are also reports of similar games in other areas of the world where ice forms, such as England and Scotland. 

The early 19th century saw these sports come to Canada thanks to British soldiers playing the sports and spreading them throughout the country. First Nations people in Canada also had stick and ball games that they played during this era.

Around this time there were also several instances of games similar to ice hockey (such as bandy) being played in England, too. These are only a few of the examples of the various sports and influences that led to ice hockey being created.

As you can see, there is a lot of history about the sport of hockey, and it is tough to be 100% certain where and when ice hockey was first played, and it largely depends on your criteria for the sport.

Some may see the 1875 game in Montreal as the first, while many others might believe the actual invention of the sport is much earlier. As a result, arriving at a definitive answer is tough and the topic has been hotly contested for decades.

Members of the Montreal Victorias in 1881. Image source: Wikipedia


Here are a few frequently asked questions about the history of ice hockey, along with their answers.

When did ice hockey join the Olympics?

Ice hockey has been a part of the Olympics since 1920. Originally, it was introduced at the 1920 Summer Olympics, but eventually made the permanent transfer to the Winter Olympics in 1924.

When did protective equipment begin to be worn in hockey?

During the early days of hockey, hardly any protective equipment was worn. The first type of gear worn specifically for protection sake was shin pads back in the 1880s. Over the following century, more equipment was introduced to keep players safe and protected during play.

Final Thoughts

The origins of ice hockey date back a very long time, and pinning down an exact timeline is challenging. So while many see that game in Montreal on March 3rd 1875 as the starting point for organized ice hockey, I feel it’s important to also consider the history before that.

Which location do you believe should be credited with inventing the game of ice hockey? Let me know in a comment.

About Kale
Being from Canada, hockey is essentially a way of life. I instantly fell in love with the game since I was being put on skates. From playing as a child (and the occasional street hockey game with friends today) to being a fan for over 20 years, I’m here to share my knowledge and passion for hockey. Email: kale@hockeyhow.com

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