Author Don Weekes
Author Don Weekes photographs a typical newspaper broadsheet of the early 1900s at Library and Archives Canada. 
Photograph: Thomas Königsthal Jr 

About the Author

Don Weekes is an award-winning television producer and the author of numerous hockey books published by Firefly Books (Toronto) and Greystone Books (Vancouver). Picturing the Game: An Illustrated Story of Hockey is his first publication with McGill-Queen’s University Press.

From the outset the idea of Picturing the Game was to chronicle the story of hockey in the most honest and unhinged way: through the graphic satire and commentary of Canada’s most prominent editorial cartoonists and illustrators.

Turns out, no subject is off limits. Not Gary Bettman, not hockey violence, not Canada’s Stanley Cup drought, and not an Americanized NHL. The same goes for international play, media pundits, Leafs Nation, the patriarchal notions in gender sports, and, best of all, the die-hard hockey fan. Everything is fair game.

Culled from a personal collection of some 7,000 hockey cartoons and illustrations over a seven-year period of rigorous researching, writing and archiving, Don Weekes selected 460 images that showcase the game in, perhaps, its most original, unvarnished perspective. Each region of Canada and some corners of America and Europe are represented to bring sports fans the most substantive collection of hockey illustration in this first-ever edition of its kind. 

Besides the cartoonists themselves, thank you to the librarians, archivists, preservationists, researchers, and digitization technicians from Dartmouth to Vancouver. Each deserve special credit. They opened their archive vaults in search of many of hockey’s forgotten pen-and-ink treasures and those from the digital tablets of today’s artists. Library and Archives Canada proved to be an amazing storehouse. It’s a workspace unequalled in Canada. Apparently, LAC houses one of the largest libraries in the world.

The page spread of this century-old broadsheet measures a panoramic 40 x 22.5 in. Arthur Racey’s editorial cartoon He Must Go appears in the upper left corner.
Montreal Daily Star, March 4, 1905. Library and Archives Canada. 
Photograph: Thomas Königsthal Jr

Picturing the Game is the story of the early artists who recorded the sport, long before photography could capture its action. It’s about newspapers, our first mass medium, that made hockey Canada’s national game and America’s favourite niche team sport. It’s also about the “game cartoon,” which proves to be hockey’s original highlight reel package.

Cartoonists Arthur Racey and Lou Skuce are prominent early figures. Their seminal cartoons of the Toronto Blueshirts, the Montreal AAA and the Vancouver Millionaires popularized and satirized the sport, and gave us larger-than-life caricatures of game icons like Cyclone Taylor.

It’s also the eventful stories of the modern NHL, the world game, the women’s game and game aggression – an encompassing narrative that features the uncanny and revealing likenesses of stars Connor McDavid, Marie-Philip Poulin, Bob Probert, Doug Gilmour, Maurice Richard, Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe, and Connor Bedard, among many others.

The graphic levity of these talented and insightful artists turned the truth on its ear by using hockey as a metaphor and creating a Canadian shorthand of national symbols to explain serious political and social issues at a glance.

They could always make the butt of their jokes look perfectly asinine.

Don Weekes lives in Montreal. He is a member of the Society for International Hockey Research and shoots left.

picturing the game

Available at McGill-Queen's University Press, other online stores, and your favourite bookseller.

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