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Harper unveils monument to hockey hero James Creighton

The Canadian Press
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Prime Minister Stephen Harper is shown in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese Author: The Hockey News

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Harper unveils monument to hockey hero James Creighton

The Canadian Press
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OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper has unveiled a monument to the man considered the father of modern hockey at Canada's national cemetery.

Halifax-born James George Aylwin Creighton, who died in Ottawa in 1930 as the country's longest serving Senate law clerk, is credited by historians with organizing the game and laying down most of the rules.

He took the game, known as shinney, from outdoor ponds and on to an indoor rink in Montreal in 1875.

"In the following two decades it would spread like a Praire wildfire across the length and breadth of our Dominion," Harper told a small gathering of hockey historians and officials Saturday.

"Just as lacrosse had appealed to our summer heart, Canada needed a sport that would call to its winter soul. Before anyone else, Creighton heard that call and defined the game that from coast-to-coast transcends French and English, East and West; urban and rural and defines us as Canadians."

"There was no proper gravestone erected for him at Beechwood Cemetery because his wife passed away shortly after him and the couple had no children".

The Society for International Hockey Research led a fundraising drive to erect a refurbished headstone and monument to Creighton.

"This monument marks another milestone in honouring the legacy of one of our country's pioneers." said Harper, who's a member of the society and writing his own book on hockey history.

The prime minister noted that Creighton remained an avid sportsman all his life and even played hockey in the fledging Parliamentary League as part of the Rideau Hall Rebels.

Creighton captained a number of hockey teams and continued to be an innovative organizer.

Harper has been researching his hockey book since he was Opposition leader.

A spokesman said the prime minister tries to devote a few minutes a day to the project, has largely finished the research phase and has begun writing.

Last year Harper designated Creighton as an historic figure and unveiled a plaque honouring him at the Bell Centre in Montreal, home of the Montreal Canadiens.

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Harper unveils monument to hockey hero James Creighton