James George Aylwin Creighton (June 12, 1850 – June 27, 1930) -
James Creighton is considered the "Father of Organized Hockey,"
although he never claimed that honour.
Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, James Creighton was educated at Halifax Grammar School, where he graduated at age 14, then earned an arts degree with honours from University of King's College in 1868. Creighton had played sports during his boyhood in Halifax, where a free-wheeling, stick-ball game called "ricket", "shinny" or occasionally "Hockey", was played on ice outdoors with any number of players.
In 1872 he moved to Montreal from Halifax to study & work in engineering. Creighton sometimes acted as a figure skating judge at the Victoria Skating Club's Victoria Skating Rink. As a member of the Club, he organized early morning sessions of informal ice Hockey at the rink with his friends from McGill University, Montreal Amateur Athletic Association clubs and members of the Victoria Skating Club.
It was here that Creighton captained of one of the two teams that participated in the first recorded indoor game of organized ice Hockey on March 3, 1875 at the Victoria Skating Rink. His nine-man team representing the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association Football Club won two "games" (goals) to one over the Victoria Skating Club led by Charles Torrance.
James Creighton is also credited with the 1st recorded Ice Hockey assist during a game on February 26, 1877 between the Metropolitan Club against members of the St James' Club. The Montreal Gazette published on February 27, 1877, unfortunately for the St. James' men, Creighton made some admirable play into Geddes' hands, who put the ball through in a twinkling, thus scoring the second game for the Metropolitans - Geddes was Charles Geddes, a teammate.
On the Hockey rink, Creighton was praised for his ability to pass the flat, circular piece of wood in use at the time as a puck and for his attempts to initiate combination play. In 1876, while he was captain of a team from the Montreal rugby football club, of which he was vice-president, it was noted that he played "offside," or ahead of the puck carrier, evidence that early Montreal games were played under the newly formed Field Hockey Association and rugby rules, rather than the so-called Halifax rules, which permitted forward passing.
After Creighton had established Ice Hockey with the Victoria Skating Club and MAAA clubs of Montreal, he enrolled at McGill in 1877 to earn a law degree.
From 1877 to 1881, he was very involved in journalism, writing for The Montreal Gazette, Scribner's Magazine and various other publications. Creighton served as correspondent for The Gazette in the press gallery of the Canadian House of Commons. This experience and legal training led to his appointment on March 3, 1882 as law clerk to the Canadian Senate, a position he would hold for 48 years.
While living and working in Ottawa, Creighton continued his interest in ice Hockey and joined with young parliamentarians and government 'aides de camp' to form a team called the Rideau Hall Rebels, after the residence of the Governor General of Canada, in Ottawa. That team played games in and around Ottawa and became well known. Creighton befriended teammates William Stanley and Arthur Stanley, sons of then Canadian Governor General Lord Stanley.
Mr. Creighton was inducted into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame in 1993 as the "father of organized ice Hockey."
On May 22, 2008, Mr. Creighton was honored with a plaque at Centre Bell in Montreal, Quebec, the home rink of the Montreal Canadiens. The plaque was unveiled by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Centre Bell is located near the site of the old Victoria Skating Rink.
The Society for International Hockey Research mounted a public campaign during 2008 and 2009 to erect a monument on Creighton's grave site. Contributors included members of the Society, Beechwood Cemetery, and the public. Notable donors included the crew of HMCS Vancouver, Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and Calgary Flames owner Harley Hotchkiss. A gravestone and biographical plaque were unveiled at the cemetery in a ceremony on October 24, 2009. Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper was in attendance.