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FARRELL, ARTHUR, hockey player and author; b. 8 Feb. 1877 in Montreal, son of William Farrell and Mary Meagher; d. 7 Feb. 1909 in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Que.

Arthur Farrell was the fourth in a family of eight. Since his father was a merchant and alderman in Montreal, he grew up in comfortable circumstances. From 1895 to 1897 he studied at the Collège Sainte-Marie, where he began his hockey career in 1896 and met students who would later be his teammates on the Montreal Shamrocks. There were frequent intramural hockey games at the college and games against other establishments, notably the Pensionnat du Mont-Saint-Louis. Sainte-Marie’s four forwards – Farrell, Harry Trihey, Fred Scanlan, and Jack Brennan – would become the core of the Shamrocks’ offence.

The Shamrocks played in the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada, having succeeded the Montreal Crystals in 1895. Canada’s leading hockey league at the time, the AHAC also included the Ottawa Silver Seven, the Quebec Bulldogs, the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association, and the Montreal Victorias. The four collegians joined the Shamrocks in 1897. Hockey was then a seven-player game, and the others on the team were Frank Tansey and Louis Belcourt, both from Mont-Saint-Louis, and Ernest Pagnuelo, the goaltender. The next season Belcourt was replaced by Frank Wall and Pagnuelo by Jim McKenna, who also came from Mont-Saint-Louis. This group remained intact until 1901.

All the teams in the AHAC were anglophone until 1905, when francophone ones entered the league, and only the Shamrocks used French-speaking players. The club was made up mainly of Irish Catholics who had studied in bilingual classical colleges. Thus it was with the Irish that French Canadians learned to play hockey, and the Shamrocks’ seven players were bilingual.

The Shamrocks introduced a major innovation into hockey: the passing game. Team captain Harry Trihey took the lead as rover linking the forwards and the defencemen. With forward passing of the puck not allowed, the favourite tactic was to have one of the forwards advance, with the other three following. As in rugby, the lead would pass back to one of the others when his way was blocked. The Shamrocks speeded up the game by using all four forwards together and passing the puck backwards and sideways to force the opposing defencemen to move.

Having finished the 1899 season in first place, the Shamrocks took the Stanley Cup [see Frederick Arthur Stanley] away from the defending champions, the Montreal Victorias. They then had to hold it against challengers. On 14 March 1899 they defeated Queen’s College in Kingston, Ont., by a 6–2 score to retain the precious cup. The Shamrocks remained the champions the next year and defended the cup twice, winning two games against the Winnipeg Victorias in February 1900 and two against the Halifax Crescents in March. In the last Farrell scored four goals, one fewer than his all-time high, which he would achieve against Quebec on 2 March 1901.

The 1901 season was more difficult for the Shamrocks. The Winnipeg Victorias came back to Montreal in January and this time took the Stanley Cup away from them in two games. After the season, all the Shamrocks’ players quit the team and replacements were found in the intermediate ranks.

Farrell did not leave the sport altogether. In 1899 he had written what appears to have been the first book on hockey, containing a section on the history of the game and another on how to play. A second work, in two volumes, was published in 19014 for an American readership in a well-known series put out by Albert Goodwill Spalding. Another book by Farrell in that series came out in 1907 and was reissued in 1910. It outlines the origins of hockey and the rules in Canada and the United States and includes comments by Canadian hockey stars on the art of playing various positions. Farrell also worked in his father’s store. However in 1906 he was confined to the sanatorium in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts. He had fallen ill with tuberculosis, of which he died in 1909.

Arthur Farrell’s contribution to hockey was recognized in 1965 when he was admitted to the Hockey Hall of Fame along with his teammate Fred Scanlan. Harry Trihey had already been elected to it in 1950, but the other Shamrocks still have not been. Both as a player and as a writer, Farrell stimulated the development of hockey in its early days.

Michel Vigneault

Arthur Farrell is the author of Hockey: Canadas royal winter game (Montreal, 1899) and How to play ice hockey (New York, 1907; 2nd ed., 1910). He also compiled Ice hockey and ice polo guide (2v., New York, 1901–4).

ANQ-M, CE1-52, 24 févr. 1877. ASJCF, Collège Sainte-Marie, Grand conseil des jeux, 1883–1927. Montreal Daily Star, 15 March 1899; 15, 17 Feb., 6, 8 March 1900; 30 Jan., 1 Feb. 1901; 8 Feb. 1909. Dan Diamond and Joseph Romain, Hockey Hall of Fame; the official history of the game and its greatest stars (Toronto, 1988). M. L. Howell and Nancy Howell, Sports and games in Canadian life, 1700 to the present (Toronto, 1969). Alan Metcalfe, Canada learns to play: the emergence of organized sport, 1807–1914 (Toronto, 1987). Joseph Romain and Dan Diamond, The pictorial history of hockey (Greenwich, Conn., 1987). Souvenirs des fêtes jubilaires du collège Sainte-Marie de Montréal, 1848–1898 (Montréal, 1898). D. J. Thom, The hockey bibliography: ice hockey worldwide ([Toronto], 1978). Michel Vigneault, “The cultural diffusion of hockey in Montreal, 1890–1910” (ma thesis, Univ. of Windsor, Ont., 1985). Charles Wilkins, Hockey: the illustrated history (Toronto, 1985).

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Michel Vigneault, “FARRELL, ARTHUR,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 13, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed October 2, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/farrell_arthur_13E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/farrell_arthur_13E.html
Author of Article:   Michel Vigneault
Title of Article:   FARRELL, ARTHUR
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 13
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1994
Year of revision:   1994
Access Date:   October 2, 2023