In honour of the 2021 Isobel Cup playoffs, it’s time to explain the history of the award itself. We all know that the Stanley Cup is named after Lord Stanley of Preston, who served as the Governor General Canada back in late 1800s. Who was Lady Isobel, and why does she have the highest award in the NWHL named after her?
Isobel Stanley was the daughter of Lord Stanley himself. Born in 1875, she played a vital role with creating the highest award in hockey: the all-mighty Stanley Cup. Surprise men, there was a woman involved in the creation of the Stanley Cup…
Lady Isobel also played in the great game of ice hockey herself. While living in Ottawa, Canada, her family became not only hockey fans, but amazing hockey players. Two of her 8 brothers were in fact avid players in Canada. Rideau Hall has its own hockey rink due to Governor’s love of the game. It then opened to the public as Rideau Skating Rink.
Isobel’s hard work and dedication is honored and recognized through two awards. One is the Lady Isobel Gathorne-Hardy Award. Any Canadian player from any level earns this award by having their values and leadership represent female athletes everywhere. The second one, the one we are all here for, is the Isobel Cup. This is won in the National Women’s Hockey League.
Isobel Stanley was not only a significant pioneer of women’s hockey but a player. In a women’s game report from the year 1899, Isobel was mentioned. There is not much information on Isobel Stanley or how she played the game, but we know the impact she left on the sport has long outlived her. There needs to be more about her and the women who have contributed to the creation and growth of Women’s Hockey.