Borderlands, Windsor, Detroit, Sports History, Canadian Nationalism, Hockey
Scholarship on the role of ice hockey in the development of the Canadian identity has neglected the unique experience of border communities in their discussions of the relationship between the formation of hockey fandom and Canadian nationalism. Usually focused on large hockey communities in Canada such as Toronto and Montreal, these studies examine the “Canadian” experience of hockey without considering the multi-faceted nature of border cities that were exposed to both Canadian and American ice hockey clubs.
This paper argues that professional hockey fandom in the Windsor-Detroit borderlands demonstrated that Windsorites’ shared socio-cultural conditions with Detroit, Michigan made them identify more with their American neighbours than other Ontario cities such as Toronto or Hamilton. Through an examination of newspapers from the region such as the Border Cities Star and the Detroit Free Press, it is evident that the “borderlands” identity of the area was more influential in the formation of Windsor’s identity than the province’s broader nationalist tendencies. Furthermore, the installation of the National Hockey League’s Detroit Cougars in Windsor during the 1926-1927 season strengthened the cross-border sport community that already existed in the region. Strategic marketing and language found in print media in the years following the Cougars’ move to Detroit in 1927 also emphasized the working-class values of the area. These values made the Detroit team more appealing to Windsor audiences than that of their closest Canadian competition, the Toronto Maple Leafs, which catered to upper-class audiences.
Dr. Guillaume Teasdale
Dr. Miriam Wright
Master of Arts
Major Research Paper