Governor General of Canada / Gouverneur général du Canadaa

Rideau Hall



Lord Stanley: The man and the trophy

coupe Stanley

Lord Stanley of Preston was appointed Governor General of Canada in 1888 by Queen Victoria. He brought his family with him to Ottawa and his sons soon became very interested in the game of hockey. 

Lord Stanley’s third son Arthur (aged 19) discovered ice hockey with his brothers and some new Canadian friends that they had made. Together they formed a couple of teams to play with on a local public rink.  The figure skaters who used the rink regularly began to complain so the group moved their games to the private rink at Rideau Hall and formed a team called the Rideau Hall Rebels. Their uniforms consisted of red shirts and white trousers. Lord Stanley’s daughter Isobel also took interest and became one of the first female hockey players in Canada.

In 1890 the brothers and their friends created the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA). It was at this time that they approached their father about donating a cup. Lord Stanley agreed to the proposition and set the following conditions for his trophy:

  • The winners must always return the cup in good order;
  • The winning team is to have the year as well as the club name engraved on the cup;
  • The cup must always remain a challenge competition and it must never become the property of any one team.

Lord Stanley was never able to witness a championship game or trophy presentation. His term as Governor General was slated to end in 1893 but in April of that year (midway through the hockey season) his brother passed away so he resigned from his post in Canada and returned to England to become the Sixteenth Earl of Derby.     

His children brought the game back to England with them and in 1895 the Stanley children challenged the team from Buckingham Palace to a game. The Stanley team was victorious. The records indicate that they scored “numerous times” but that it would not have been very diplomatic to record the exact score of the game.

In 1945, the donation of the Stanley Cup earned Lord Stanley a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame as one of the builders of the sport.

About the Cup:

  • The Stanley cup is the oldest team trophy in North America
  • While the original Cup was produced in Sheffield, England it was purchased in London. It cost about 10 guineas ($50) and measured 7 ½ inches by 11 ½ inches.
  • The bowl that we see at the top of the Cup today is a reproduction of the original that had been donated by Lord Stanley in 1893. This portion of the trophy was retired in 1969 because it had become brittle and easily damaged. Its home is now the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
  • Originally players would add their names to the trophy by scratching them on with a nail or a knife.
  • The first team to win the Cup – known at the time as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup – was the Montreal Amateur Athletic team of the Amateur Hockey Association in 1893.
  • The Cup officially became an NHL championship trophy in 1927. The Montreal Canadiens have won the Stanley cup a record 24 times, followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs who’ve won 13 times and the Detroit Red Wings who’ve won 1o times.
  • In addition to players’ names being engraved on the cup, two additional sentences have been written on the upper bowl; “Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup” and “From Lord Stanley of Preston”.
  • It takes 13 years to fill a ring of the Cup with the names of winners. Once a bottom ring is full, another of the same size is removed from the top of the base and retired to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Bibliography : Official web-page of the National Hockey League : Official web-page of the Hockey Hall of Fame : Official web-channel of the Hockey Hall of Fame : Encarta Online – "Stanley Cup"