A giant monument to Lord Stanley of Preston and his storied cup will stand on the far east end of the pedestrian mall just a block from Parliament Hill where tourists and government workers can reflect on his contribution to Canada’s national winter game.
A group of hockey buffs and business executives announced Monday that a statue of Canada’s sixth governor general who gave his name to the premier trophy for hockey excellence will be located on Sparks Street, just a few steps from the National War Memorial.
"We want to have the monument centrally located," Paul Kitchen, a hockey historian who first floated the idea of erecting a statue to pay tribute to Lord Stanley, explained. "We want it to be a destination point where both the citizens of Ottawa and the Canadian public would have easy access to it."
Mr. Kitchen's group originally wanted to see the monument, envisioned to stand some 20 metres high, erected at Rideau Street and Sussex Drive, which is one of the busiest intersections in the national capital and just a block from Parliament Hill. But that proposal was thwarted by Ottawa's plans to build a light-rail transit system beneath the site.
The news that another location has been found comes 121 years to the day that Lord Stanley announced he would donate a "challenge cup which should be held from year to year by the champion team of the Dominion."
Lord Stanley, the son of a British prime minister, was sworn in as the Canadian governor-general in 1888. In February of the following year, he attended a hockey game at Montreal Winter Carnival and became fascinated with the sport. Even then, the grounds of Rideau Hall were home to what Mr. Kitchen said is probably the oldest seasonally operated skating rink in the world. Six of Lord Stanley's sons and his daughter, Isobel, played hockey on that rink. His sons also formed a team called the Rideau Rebels.
After the Ottawa Hockey Club won its second consecutive Ontario championship in 1892, Lord Stanley determined that something tangible was needed to reward the victors. The first cup, a large silver punch bowl he commissioned from England, was presented in 1893 to the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association. In the intervening decades, the trophy came to look more like a stovepipe than a cup, as bands bearing the names of winners were added.
Mr. Kitchen said he had been struck for some time that the Stanley Cup is the most famous trophy in Canada but there is little recognition that its genesis was in Ottawa. Four years ago, he wrote an editorial in a local newspaper suggesting a monument should be built. Other hockey fans agreed.
There will be a national design competition and the winner will be selected by a jury of internationally recognized experts, Mr. Kitchen said. The monument is predicted to cost between $7-million and $8-million, which is expected to come from sponsors and donations.
"We want to capture a moment in history, and secondly, we want the memorial to be more representational than abstract so when people look at it they will see what it's about," he said. "We want it to be almost like a shrine, a destination place so that when people go to it, they will be able to pause and contemplate the meaning of the Stanley Cup, the meaning of hockey, and the place of sport in Canadian history."