Coach’s Corner: Don Cherry, hockey and the creation of English Canadian identity in the 20th century

by Andrew Silver

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Hockey has become an integral aspect of Canadian identity. In fact, in his book National Dreams: Myth, Memory, and Canadian History, Daniel Francis even suggests that hockey has become an important social institution in Canada, placing it in the same category as the social safety net and universal health care. However, is hockey actually a representative symbol of the entire population of Canada, as it is portrayed to be? This article will examine the role that hockey plays in the Canadian identity. It will argue that, while hockey is representative of part of the Canadian population, a large portion of the population is excluded from the narrative of hockey. Hockey, as Francis suggests, has become a myth of Canada, as it has emerged from history as an important story used to explain Canada.


Hockey; Myths of Canada; Canadian Identity; Exclusion


Andrew Silver is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Carleton University, pursuing an Bachelor of Arts (honours) in Law and Human Rights with a minor in Canadian Studies. Next year, he will be pursuing a Master of Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the University of Toronto. Outside of his legal interests, Andrew is interested in the ways in which myths and symbols have become engrained in Canadian identity, even though these symbols are not necessarily representative of Canadian society as a whole. As a hockey fan, Andrew is troubled that hockey has become a core symbol of Canada, even though it does not embody the values of all Canadians, and is interested in examining why and how this has happened.