Here is the first review of my book, valuable as it is from a fellow hockey historian.

Victoria hockey book a long time coming

Posted August 19, 2019

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Helen Edwards

If there was a shelf in a bookstore for “Passion Projects,” you would definitely find Helen Edwards’ new book there. It’s called The History of Professional Hockey in Victoria, and, while she’s been working on it for eight years, in reality it’s been a life-long journey.

Edwards has lived in Victoria, British Columbia, all her life, and has been a hockey fan for most of that time. It started when a radio station offered tickets to Victoria Cougars games for a nickel, and then she had season tickets for the Victoria Maple Leafs—“I had season tickets because I was finally working”—and, much later, the Victoria Salmon Kings.

A devasting two-some in 2011 resulted in the book. For one, the ECHL’s Salmon Kings closed up shop, and are the last professional team to play in Victoria. The other was the death of Bill Shvetz, who’d been a Maple Leafs’ defenceman.

“They were a big part of my life, and I suddenly realized that if somebody didn’t document even their part of history, they would all be gone,” said Edwards over the phone. “We’ve got very few of those guys left now. I started researching and I found there was very little information other than the Patricks—everybody writes about the Patricks—but nobody delved into statistics and stuff.”

An architectural historian by training, Edwards decided she was the right one to document hockey history in Victoria, from the Lester and Frank Patrick’s Pacific Coast Hockey Association in 1911 to the Salmon Kings. The History of Professional Hockey in Victoria is 612, 8×10 pages, of statistics, results of every pro game ever played in the city, with profiles of key people and 483 players, and the buildings that housed the games.

“I’m a historian by trade and this just combined my fabulous love of hockey with historical research, so it was easy—it just took a long time,” she said. Of note, there are copious end notes, she added: “If anybody doubts a source, it’s there; I’m very thorough, that’s all I can say.”

Edwards can also say that she was miffed and annoyed at times. Some interviews escaped her completely, like the elusive Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars, who grew up in Victoria; Jamie’s older brother Jordie Benn has signed with Vancouver, and Edwards expects to wag a finger at him — and indirectly at his little brother — at the upcoming Canucks training camp.

Missed interviews are one thing, misogyny is quite another.

“When I phoned people to ask if I could interview them, ‘Oh, you’re a girl, you don’t know anything about it.’ I couldn’t believe it. This is the younger guys, right? The old guys, my God, they talk to you for hours—and some did,” recalled Edwards.

Her reply to a doubter? “I’ve been watching hockey since long before you were born, hon.”

It didn’t stop her. “I’ve run into it all my life,” she said, working in a male-dominated profession, historical architecture. “There, it was not a problem, because it was a history of buildings and nobody cared if you’re male, female or otherwise.” For more on her day job, check out Edwards Heritage Consulting (

The History of Professional Hockey in Victoria was self-published through Friesen Press, and distributed to select book stores and online (ORDER HERE  — ). However, if you happen to be in Victoria, Edwards is more than happy to share a cup of tea, talk hockey and sell you a book.

“It’s never going to be a bestseller, but I’m proud that it’s out there,” said the long-time Society for International Hockey Research member. “It’s a labour of love and it’s a thank you to all those guys” who played hockey in Victoria.

Victoria Hockey Book




Today I took delivery of bookmarks to be used for marketing my hockey tome. It is a cut-down version of the book cover so reminds potential customers of what book they should choose. This is getting exciting!


My book is now in production and should be out in under a month. Despite the size of my book, they have been able to keep the price quite reasonable. The hardcover edition will retail for $44.20 and the paperback for $36.15. That is less than I expected so that is pretty good. In addition, I can sell for less if I want to.

I did not write this book to make money but it would be nice to break even at least.

I will be holding a book launch once I get physical books in my hands.

I feel like I have just given birth. The long-awaited proof of my book is finally ready for me to approve. I will be spending the weekend and some days nexxt week going over the document word by word to make sure it is as perfect as I can make it.

This is a very emotional event for as it is a long time since I started working on this manuscript and, at times, ever wondered if there would be a finished project.

The cover looks lovely and is far more attractive than anything I could have envisioned.

I am so excited to be working on something that looks like a real book. The designer had some questions for me that I can answer and I have a few for him.

I can hardly wait until this book becomes a reality.

I have been assured that the final design will be ready this month. I certainly hope so, as I have been waiting for this day for a long time. I also heard of somebody else doing a book on a similar topic so want mine out there first. Of course, mine is going to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, so I guess I have bragging rights for now.

I hope to post really good news soon.

I have fabulous news. Yesterday I received proofs of possible designs for the layout of the book. I am going to take a bit of time to examine both options and will likely take some features from each design. For the first time, I have seen the manuscript as a real book complete with images. It is so exciting.

I finished the live index and then re-read the entire manuscript catching a few typos and punctuation errors. It was like re-visiting old friends as I checked all the names and made sure they were spelled correctly. I feel like I now have 483 friends (only a few of which I have actually met).

I wanted to change the font and size of the index but when I tried to do that, Word froze. I had a session with the Microsoft help desk but they could not figure it out. I have decided that the publisher can change the font and size when the book is being typeset. I do not want to lose eight years of work due to a computer program malfunction.

Now I sit and wait for a sample chapter. I assume things will move more quickly after that. All I have to do it to write the thank-you page. I just hope I remember everybody.

It’s been a long time but the end is in sight.

I am so very close to being finally finished all the work on this project. I am just waiting for a couple of photographs to be enhanced and then I can finish inputting their tags in the appropriate places in the manuscript. Then it will go to the designers to work their magic. It almost seems surreal that seven years of work is drawing to a close. It has been hard work, but fun at the same time. I have learned a lot about hockey in Victoria and, in the process, learned a lot about myself.

I completed another interview this evening. I spoke with Victoria-born Taylor Ellington who was drafted by the Canucks and ended up playing for the Victoria Salmon Kings. It was fun to talk with a young person and, yet some of the answers were the same as those from older players. I now understand how hard players have to work to try to move up the ranks to a higher league and just how hard it is to do so. He said he worked really hard and was disappointed not to make it to the NHL, but did enjoy his time in Victoria as his friends and family could come to watch him play. He is planning to go back to school to finish a degree but has not, as yet, found a career path that gives him the satisfaction that hockey did.

We chatted about old-time hockey, and he said it was interesting how many people did not know that Victoria had won the Stanley Cup. I told him that it was well documented in my book.

The interview concluded with him giving me advice to cold-call former players. As he said, the worst thing they can do is to decline to be interviewed. I have decided to take his advice and do a few cold calls tomorrow. Wish me luck.


I had the great pleasure of interviewing former Salmon Kings head coach Mark Morrison today. It was such a treat to discuss hockey with a home-town product who had starred here with the WHL Cougars and then come back 25 years later as head coach. He told me that not many coaches get the opportunity to coach in their hometown and that he really enjoyed his time here.

The player and their coaches were upset when the Salmon Kings folded as they felt they were on the verge of something great. However, it is very tough to play when you know that there is no future for your team. I told him many of the fans felt the same way although you would not really discern that from the press coverage at the time.