Ryan Silke
Curator’s Assistant — Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre

Hockey has deep roots in Canada’s Northwest Territories. In 1825, one of the earliest recorded games was played on Great Bear Lake by the expedition crew of Arctic explorer John Franklin. Upon the discovery of gold in Yellowknife, several mines began operations and the settlers started hockey leagues to pass the time during the winter. Sport leagues were so popular, that gold mines recruited workers based entirely on their athletic talents.

Frank Horvat worked at the Giant Mine in Yellowknife from 1952 to 1967 and was the star player on the Giant Mine’s team, the Giant Grizzlies. Frank, a top scorer, was so feared by his opponents that they once sabotaged his car to keep him from getting to the game. “You might think it was fun, but it was war,” Frank once said. He was a tower of strength, handling a puck with such barreling force the defense couldn’t lift his stick. The Giant Grizzlies were the team to beat throughout the 1950s-60s, with captain Frank leading the charge.

The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre is proud to showcase Frank Horvat’s hockey jersey in time for Hockey Day in Canada, which is being broadcast from Yellowknife in February 2020.