PhD Public Presentation and Defense: Taylor McKee - "Born of a spirit that knows no conquering"

Taylor McKee presented and defended his dissertation project, "Born of a spirit that knows no conquering: Innovation, contestation and representation in the PCHA, 1911-1924." Under the supervision of Professor Janice Forsyth, Taylor investigates the paramount historical significiance of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association for the construction of modern hockey.

The Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) was a professional North American hockey league that operated from 1911 to 1924. With markets in Victoria, Vancouver, New Westminster, Seattle, and Portland, the bourgeoning league was a viable competitor to the NHA and offered a distinctive approach to the developing sport. Through innovations and rule changes, the PCHA made significant strides in player safety, in line with the vision of “clean” hockey promoted by the league’s founders, Frank and Lester Patrick. In turn, these innovations were represented through newspaper accounts from the period, which helped promote a modern, scientific, and highly-marketable brand of hockey in Western Canada.

Taylor’s dissertation frames the entrepreneurial history of the PCHA within the cultural context of violence’s representation in early-twentieth-century Canadian newsprint. To that end, he critically analyzes the way that violence was described by media members during the early-twentieth century in western Canada. Consequently, he investigates how hockey violence was represented newsprint. Taylor focusses on one league, the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA), and assesses the ways that violence was mediated in newspaper reporting. The PCHA is considered one of the most important and financially successful forbearers of modern hockey, a game which itself features violence as one of its most marked characteristics. As such, this project provides a substantive investigation of hockey violence in B.C. newspapers, specifically the Vancouver Sun, Victoria Daily Colonist, and New Westminster Daily News, viewed through the critical lens of representation. By tracing three periods of the league’s development, birth, expansion and experimentation, and decline, Taylor demonstrates how newspaper reporting of PCHA games helped communicate a new vision of hockey, which still resonates today.