Hockey’s National Dream

A look at the priest behind the men’s Olympic team, and other recently released books.

Written by Phil Koch

Posted May 30, 2017

With the NHL’s participation in men’s ice hockey at the next Winter Olympic Games looking doubtful, Greg Oliver’s Father Bauer and the Great Experiment: The Genesis of Canadian Olympic Hockey tells of the building of a national amateur team starting in the 1960s. Watch for a review by Ryan O’Connor in a coming issue of Canada’s History magazine.

A couple of new biographies look at colourful figures from our country’s past. Trevor Cole’s The Whisky King: The Remarkable True Story of Canada’s Most Infamous Bootlegger and the Undercover Mountie on His Trail tells of the exploits of Canada’s first “celebrity mobster,” Italian immigrant Rocco Perri, while Thora Kerr Illing’s Gold Rush Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Nellie Cashman tells of an Irish immigrant who operated restaurants and boarding houses in frontier towns up and down the west coast of North America.

Debbie Marshall’s Firing Lines: Three Canadian Women Write the First World War highlights the writing and adventures of Mary MacLeod Moore, Beatrice Nasmyth and Elizabeth Montizambert, whose reportage provided Canadian perspectives on the conflict that affected the nation as a whole and directly impacted a great many Canadian families. Meanwhile, Bearing Witness: Journalists, Record Keepers and the 1917 Halifax Explosion, by Michael Dupuis, explores the work of telling stories in the aftermath of the terrible First World War tragedy on Canada’s east coast.

A very different look at Nova Scotia history is provided by Jill Martin Bouteillier’s Sable Island in Black and White, which includes more than 100 photos from the late nineteenth century.

Sarah Glassford’s Mobilizing Mercy: A History of the Canadian Red Cross tells the story of the national humanitarian organization in periods of war and peace, while two other books look at aspects of the relationship between medical practice and Indigenous peoples in Canada: Nobody Here Will Harm You: Mass Medical Evacuation from the Eastern Arctic, 1950–1965, by Shawn Selway, and Medicine Unbundled: A Journey through the Minefields of Indigenous Health Care, by Gary Geddes.

In Towards a Prairie Atonement, Trevor Herriot considers the relationship with the land and the state of the environment in one part of the prairies from the perspective of a descendant of settlers who is trying to come to terms with the legacy of Métis dispossession.

For more about Canadian history books, and to see the upcoming online version of our Summer Reading Guide advertising supplement, sign up for our e-newsletter.

Related to Books