Games between teams hitting an object with curved sticks have been played throughout the world since prehistoric times. The word “hockey” has been used since the 16th century, but its etymology is uncertain. It may derive from the Old French word hoquet, shepherd’s crook, but it may also derive from the Middle Dutch word hokkie which is the diminutive of hok, meaning literally shack or doghouse, but which in popular use meant goal. Many of these games were developed for fields, though where conditions allowed, they were also played on icy conditions , as shown in 16th-century Dutch paintings where a number of townsfolk play a hockey-like game on a frozen canal.
European immigrants brought various versions of hockey-like games to North America, such as the Scottish sport of shinty, and the closely-related Irish sport of hurling. Where necessary these seem to have been adapted for icy conditions; for example, a colonial Williamsburg newspaper records hockey being played in a snow storm in Virginia. Both English- and French-speaking Canadians played hockey on frozen rivers, lakes, and ponds using cheese cutters strapped to their boots, and early paintings show hockey being played in Nova Scotia. There are claims that ice hockey was invented in Windsor, Nova Scotia and named after an individual, as in ‘Colonel Hockey’s game'. Proponents of this theory point out that the surname Hockey exists in the district surrounding Windsor, though this is an unlikely coincidence. Author Thomas Chandler Haliburton wrote of boys from King’s College School in Windsor playing “hurley on the ice” when he was a student there around 1800.. These early games may have absorbed the physically aggressive aspects of what the Mi’kmaq Aboriginal First Nation in Nova Scotia called dehuntshigwa’es (lacrosse). The first game to use a puck rather than a ball took place in 1860 on Kingston Harbour, Ontario, involving mostly Crimean War veterans. In 1943, the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association declared Kingston the birthplace of hockey, based on a recorded 1886 game played between students of Queen’s University and the Royal Military College of Canada. Subsequent research has shown numerous earlier examples of the game of hockey. The Society for International Hockey Research contends that an earlier game of hockey on ice occurred in Halifax in 1859, based on a Boston Evening Gazette article published that year. Furthermore, in 1843 a British Army officer in Kingston wrote “Began to skate this year, improved quickly and had great fun at hockey on the ice”. More recently Sir John Franklin wrote in a letter in 1825 that “The game of hockey played on the ice was the morning sport” while on the Great Bear Lake during one of his Arctic expeditions. 
- ^ http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/epic/internet/inimr-ri.nsf/en/gr-72585e.html. Retrieved on December 4, 2005.