Book Review: The Hall provides a look at the history of the Hockey Hall of Fame

The great and in-depth story of hockey’s hallowed museum

When I first read through The Hall: Celebrating Hockey’s Heritage, Heroes, and Home by Kevin Shea and published by Montreal’s Griffintown Media, I was happy I had just been to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Because it allowed me to realize that the pictures in the glorious book was essentially a walking tour of what the Hall has to offer.

But the book is more than just stunning photos of hockey’s most famous museum. It also details the stories behind the creation of the museum from the initial idea, to the plans to put the museum in Kingston, Ontario until funding fell through. That led to a typical battle between Montreal and Toronto (among other cities who felt they had a claim - including Halifax) with Frank Selke and Conn Smythe leading the charge for their cities.

Obviously, Toronto ended up being the site but it wasn’t always in the downtown location we know of today. Pictures of the initial opening and the sketches for the original CNE location are featured in the book, and it really does give you a full story that even the biggest hockey fans will learn from. The spot at the CNE eventually led the way for the opening of a new building in downtown Toronto.

The book also talks about how the Hall of Fame is believed to be haunted (yes, for real), the hidden archive centre, and tells stories about the life and times of the Stanley Cup (including how the original collar of the Cup was stolen) and the infamous spelling mistakes that remain on the Cup to this day.

Then there is a section on the priceless artifacts that find themselves in the Hall, including the “Lucky Loonie” from the 2002 Olympic Games and so much more.

It really is a look behind the scenes of the Hall as much it is a book about the museum itself. A section of how the Hall markets itself is also featured as it tries to bring a new generation into the building.

Finally, what would a book about the Hall be without a section for its members? The last part of the book features the famous portraits of each member in the Hall in the order they were inducted, including the five women up to the Class of 2017. It is the first time that the portraits are available in print.

If you haven’t been to the Hockey Hall of Fame, the book is like a tour in your own living room, and if you have been, there’s still a huge amount of history that you won’t even see in the museum.

The Hall: Celebrating Hockey’s Heritage, Heroes, and Home was released on September 10 - the 75th anniversary of the Hall being established - and is part of the National Treasure Series to celebrate the Hall’s 75th anniversary. The book is available in stores now.

For more information, visit the book’s website here.

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