September 24, 2008

Canada On Ice - The World Hockey Championships, 1920-2008 by Dave Holland

Every year a hockey book seemingly comes out of the blue and surprises me. In 2008 that hockey book is Dave Holland's Canada On Ice - The World Hockey Championships, 1920-2008.

Even though the book has been out since March, somehow I didn't even know about the book until Holland himself contacted me in September. There's a pretty good chance you don't know about it either. It is a wonderfully produced self-published effort, though the big book chains don't care or carry it. It is not available at Chapters or Amazon Canada's website. It is available at for $30, or through the book's companion website - Canada On Ice. You will need PayPal to purchase the book there.

When Holland contacted me about his book I was downright giddy. I'm a huge international hockey/Team Canada fan, as you all know.

While Canadians seemingly have an unquenchable thirst for hockey, the World Hockey Championships have never really be Canadian fans' cup of tea. There's a lot of reasons for that, many of which are covered in the book.

I'll let Holland tell you about the historical disinterest by and discrimination against Canadians at the World Hockey championships. We have largely ignored the tournament. Regardless of the rocky relationships of the past, there are some great stories to be told about Team Canada at the World Championships.

Some of those stories have come to light in recent years. The Winnipeg Falcons, the Edmonton Mercurys, the Whitby Dunlops, the Trail Smoke Eaters and Father Bauer's Nats have had some exposure to hockey history fans. But by and large the various Team Canada's at the World Championships are greatly unknowns.

Holland's book is a really positive step in increasing the tournament's stature, giving fans a rare chance to revel in Canada's long history at the World Championships.

Holland covers every World Championship tournament from 1920 through 2008, offering a unique Team Canada photo where possible. Holland originally intended for this to be primarily a photo book. There are some amazing photos, particularly from the earlier decades, showing both team poses and in-action shots. It is fascinating to see the old Team Canada jerseys and hockey in such a pure state.

He also offers us a brief brief textual sketch of each championship, absolutely teasing us with some amazing and well researched stories. My personal favorites are of an impromptu snowball fight in 1956 and how a 1939 Trail Smoke Eaters jersey helped a Canadian prisoner of war befriend a German prison guard.

It is stories like that set apart the great hockey books from the good. The problem for Canada On Ice is usually each sketch is too brief, not always offering a solid tournament background for these fascinating story to support.

The book is lacking basic statistical record. An accompanying appendix of game by game scores and especially team rosters if not team scoring statistics would be wonderful additions. If it had such a compendium the book would be this encyclopedic and complete resource, the one stop shop for all things Team Canada at the Worlds. As it currently is many of the greats who represented Canada at the World Championships remain unknown.

Of course, this is easy for me to say. Holland self-published this book, and adding such data would likely add two pages to each tournament's capsule, more or less doubling the book's current 190 pages. That is quite the financial commitment for a self published venture.

By the way, I know some people, and virtually all big bookstores, snub their noses up at self published books. Don't make that mistake with this title. Canada On Ice is a wonderfully produced book, as aesthetically pleasing as any book I've seen from any publishing house this year. The presentation is spectacular.

All in all I have to recommend this book for anyone who is a Team Canada fan. It would be a beautiful addition to your international hockey library, or the perfect Christmas gift. You can buy the book, or, through the book's companion website - Canada On (PayPal).


Anonymous,  October 2, 2008 at 5:26 PM  

Like you, I am a Huge Fan of our Team Canada's, I truly enjoyed this book. A nice snap shot of each of our Team Canada's from the Past. We can never have enough of these books! Just loved seeing the 1955 Penticton Vees on the Cover!
James Sinclair - Lethbridge

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