Top Shelf Reads: Score a Great Read to Celebrate Women’s Hockey

The game reached a staggering 2.9 million views during its season opener where New York faced off in, and with Toronto. The league also has four Indigenous players as well, further breaking barriers for young women whose passion for the game, and skill are of a professional league caliber.

Women’s hockey fans typically had to wait for each Winter Olympic cycle for a chance to see Team Canada, and their favorite players hit the ice. I will never forget, for example, watching the 2014 women’s gold medal game against Team USA where, in the remaining few minutes Team Canada turned around a 2-0 score to win 3-2 in overtime. These precious moments of hockey glory as a fan, however, were relegated to an every-four-years-until-next-time hope that you’d get to see women’s hockey magic made on the ice.

Women’s sports should not be an all-or-nothing Olympic event. Women belong on the rink just as much as men do in professional hockey through the NHL. Manon Rhéaume did make history by being the first woman to ever play in the NHL, but the league did not prioritize including women afterwards.

While it isn’t part of the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL), Waterloo has a women’s hockey history connection wherein Waterloo’s team played against the Toronto Wellingtons in a championship. According to a Toronto Star reporter, during the last period in a game on February 15, 1907, “Miss Dawson [of Waterloo] led the attacks and everybody except the goalkeeper—including the girl who fell down every time she made a rush—was there, and they gave the Torontonians the busiest five minutes you ever saw” (34). Toronto won that game 6-0 but the teams played before a crowd of 700 at the Ontario ladies hockey championship, according to Brian McFarlane’s Proud Past, Bright Future history of women’s hockey in Canada.

The Toronto Daily Star, February 15, 1907 (image found at

The PWHL marks a historical moment where young girls across North America can now answer “a hockey player” when they are asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” McFarlane quoted Rhéaume from a 1994 interview: “’They’re actually going to pay me to play hockey,’ Rhéaume said, laughing. ‘I really can’t believe it. All I did was come here hoping for a chance and hoping to improve. This is what all little boys dream about. I never dreamed it would happen to me’” (169). Now generations of girls can dream it will happen for them.

So, from the puck drop to our book drop, what could you read to celebrate the recent launch of the PWHL, the first professional women’s hockey league? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Proud Past, Bright Future: One Hundred Years of Canadian Women’s Hockey by Brian McFarlane
  2. The Role I Played: Canada’s Greatest Olympic Hockey Team by Sami Jo Small
  3. Over The Boards: Lessons From The Ice by Hayley Wickenheiser
  4. A Team of Their Own: How an International Sisterhood Made Olympic History by Seth Berkman
  5. Gold Medal Diary: Inside The World’s Greatest Sports Event by Hayley Wickenheiser

While the 2024 season unfolds many firsts for a new era of “Original Six,” get to know your new favourite players and pick up your intermission reads from WPL.

McFarlane, B. (1994). *Proud Past, Bright Future: One Hundred Years of Canadian Women’s Hockey.* Stoddart Publishing Co.: Toronto.
Charlie C.
Programmer & Library Assistant, Main Library

Charlie loves to read across genres. His favourite part of working at the library is connecting people with resources to help better their lives and experiences; knowledge is a path to empowerment. Accordingly, he is interested in reading and borrowing adult non-fiction books related to almost everything. He enjoys reading about business, self-improvement, environmental sciences and spirituality/esotericism. Books that help ask big questions and invoke equally big wonder are among his favourites. Charlie’s other hobbies include writing, hiking, photography and cooking.