What if they held a war, and a Canadian hockey game broke out?
In the cold Korean winter of 1952-53 Canadian soldiers on the front lines decided to put down their rifles for a moment and organize hockey matches on the frozen Imjin River.
While some members of the Princess Patricias Canadian Light Infantry, (PPCLI) and the Royal 22nd Regiment (R22R- “Vandoos), and the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) played against each other on a makeshift rink, others manned their positions on the hills and trenches around to counter possible Chinese attacks.
To the sound of American artillery, the chance to play Canada’s national sport amid the very real risk of enemy shelling and mortar fire was a morale booster and other allies noted once again that Canadian troops were hard to intimidate.
One wonders if the Chinese were not also somewhat taken aback by the cheek of the Canadians playing hockey within range of their guns.
A few years ago, members of the military decided to re-stage the event in Canada annually and a friendly rivalry has been created between the two regiments.
This year is a bit more special however. It’s the 100th anniversary of both those two regiments, and the annual rematch of what has been called the “Imjin Classic” was held this weekend in the national capital, Ottawa, hosted by the Korean Embassy.
One of the original players on the frozen Imjin River, Dennis Moore, was inducted into the Korea Veterans Association (Chapter 7- Ottawa) in a ceremony preceeding the game.
This year the Vandoos won, 7-4 over the Pats… not that the final score was tremendously important.
Much more important is the symbolic friendship of the regiments, normally stationed in different provinces some thousands of kilometres from each other within Canada.
The weekend re-enactment match was also organized in November, the month of Remembrance, to honour veterans of the Korean War.
More photos at Richard Lawrence Photography- here