This 1890 photograph is the oldest-known picture of women playing hockey, taken at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. Isobel Stanley, daughter of Lord Stanley, is seen wearing white.
Lord Stanley of Preston’s daughter, Lady Isobel Stanley, was a pioneer in the women’s game and was one of the first females to be photographed using puck and stick (around 1890) on the natural ice rink at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Stanley, Canada’s sixth Governor General, provided the ice for women’s hockey games, transforming a large lawn on the grounds of Rideau Hall into a rink. Better known for his contribution of the challenge trophy later referred to as the Stanley Cup, Lord Stanley played a significant role in the development and growth of Canadian women’s hockey.
There have been disputes over where the first women’s ice hockey game was played in Canada. The Women’s Hockey Association claims that the city of Ottawa, Ontario hosted the first game in 1891. On February 11, 1891, one of the earliest newspaper accounts of a seven-a-side game between women appeared in the Ottawa Citizen.
In the 1890s, women’s ice hockey was introduced at the university level. McGill University’s women’s hockey team debuted in 1894. The University of Toronto and Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario were also some of the earliest Canadian universities to field women’s ice hockey teams. Queens would later discontinue its women’s teams.