Bowlsby wins McFarlane Award
August 09th, 2014
Born on February 16, 1957 in Vancouver, the remarkably diligent hockey historian Craig H. Bowlsby earned his BFA degree from the University of British Columbia and became a member of the Canadian national fencing team. His love for the sport led him to self-publish a novel about fencing, Taking the Blade (Vancouver: College Printers, 1984). Bowlsby’s major publications though, are histories of hockey in Western Canada.
He won the 2014 Brian McFarlane Award for outstanding research and writing by members given to members of the Society for International Hockey Research (SIHR). It is the first time anyone from Western Canada has received the award. His self-published, illustrated, 381-page reference work on ice hockey in British Columbia, from 1895 to 1911, The Knights of Winter (unpriced, 2006), unearths lists of all players, all teams, records of games, etc., that are about as beguiling as Egyptian hieroglyphics. What does it all add up to? No matter. He got the excavation job done for others. It’s a monumental work. Bowlsby cites the diary of Reverend John Sheepshanks in January of 1862 as the first recorded reference to hockey being played in British Columbia, at New Westminster following a freeze-up of the Fraser River. Bowlsby followed with an equally admirable, 388-page volume, Empire of Ice: The Rise and Fall of the PacificCoast Hockey Association, 1911-1926 (Knights of Winter 2012). It features Cyclone Taylor, Frank and Lester Patrick, Nels Stewart and others. The PCHA created the first American teams to compete for the Stanley Cup. Once upon a time, hockey was akin to rugby in that the puck, like the ball in rugby, could not be passed forward. In 1913: The Year They Invented The Future Of Hockey (2013), Bowlsby gives a detailed look at the introduction of the forward pass into the game. He writes: “Before 1913, the game of hockey had to be played backwards. The Patrick brothers of the PCHA [Pacific Coast Hockey Association] shattered this hallowed tradition, and played the game forwards. The new rule they invented—the forward pass—was denounced as a farce, and its implementation thought to be impossible. There was only one way to prove they were right—to win the Stanley Cup against the NHA using their despised and reviled new rule. A hundred years ago the Patricks took that challenge.” Bowlsby’s fiction includes a novella entitled Horth in Killing Reach, (part of the continuing sci-fi series of Okal Rel novels by Lynda Williams, published by Edge science fiction in Calgary) with another novella entitled Horth at Moon Shadow. Bowlsby has also self-published five stories and the text of his play, The Hound of London (Vancouver: Intrepid Productions), a Sherlock Holmes mystery first staged at Burnaby’s James Cowan Theatre in 1987. These were followed by 50 copies of Ice Age Memories, A Bibliography and Compendium of Early Hockey Publications (1996).