The sport of sledge hockey, an innovative team sport that incorporates the same rules and discipline structure as able-bodied hockey, was invented by three Swedish wheelchair athletes on a frozen lake in Stockholm in 1961.
The game was an instant success, and after only a couple years of development, five teams competed for the Stockholm city championship.
The Swedish players subsequently introduced the sport to their Norwegian neighbors and regular matches between respective national teams ensued. Norway, in turn, introduced the sport to British wheelchair athletes.
In 1979, Dick Loiselle, a former director of the 1976 Toronto Olympiad, brought back a sled from Europe, given to him by Rolf Johansson, a Paralympic gold medallist in wheelchair track and field and one of the inventors of sledge hockey.
It was given with the understanding that the Paraplegic Association of Canada would initiate a program for sledge hockey; however, the PAC declined the proposal and the opportunity was given to Jerry Johnston, executive director of the Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing.
After the CADS also declined, the sled was sent to Jean Lane, Johnston’s sister-in-law. Lane made a presentation to the City of Medicine Hat, Alberta, which had allocated $42,000 for persons with disabilities in sport, but had no such programs to use the funds.
With the program presented by Lane fulfilling all necessary criteria, sledge hockey in Canada was born.
As a result of rapid growth of the sport, Sledge Hockey of Canada (SHOC) was created in 1993 and given the title of a national sport federation by the Government of Canada, to coordinate, develop and promote the sport of sledge hockey in Canada.
In 1994, sledge hockey was introduced as a demonstration sport at the Paralympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway. The sport has since become a full medal event at the Paralympic Winter Games. Canada has participated in sledge hockey in each Paralympic Winter Games.
In 2004, sledge hockey came under the umbrella of Hockey Canada.
CLICK HERE for Canada's National Para Hockey Team.