Point of Beginning

How official Ottawa held back a 'great unsung native hero'

March 4, 2008
Thomas Daniel Green packed his life with firsts: first president of the world's first hockey league, first aboriginal accredited as a land surveyor in Canada, possibly the first native to graduate with honours from a Canadian university. But there was one barrier that the Mohawk Indian, also a star with Ottawa's first hockey team in the 1880s, was unable to break through: the discrimination that kept aboriginals from acquiring full-time work with the Dominion government in the late 19th century.


How official Ottawa held back a 'great unsung native hero'
 
Even John A. Macdonald couldn't secure a full-time job for a founder of the world's first hockey league,
 
Thomas Daniel Green packed his life with firsts: first president of the world's first hockey league, first aboriginal accredited as a land surveyor in Canada, possibly the first native to graduate with honours from a Canadian university.
 
But there was one barrier that the Mohawk Indian, also a star with Ottawa's first hockey team in the 1880s, was unable to break through: the discrimination that kept aboriginals from acquiring full-time work with the Dominion government in the late 19th century.
 
All the while Green struggled against discrimination in official Ottawa, he was treated with respect and admiration in the hockey world. He performed well on the ice, was elected Ottawa team captain and in 1886 was sent as the club's representative to the founding meeting of the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada, a forerunner to the National Hockey League.
 
"He must have found it a great relief to be appreciated for his intelligence and accomplishments," says Mr. Kitchen, whose book Win, Tie or Wrangle: The Inside Story of the Old Ottawa Senators (1883-1935), comes out in December.