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April 05, 2011

Did Einstein Play Hockey?

So I'm approached by a co-worker recently with an interesting possibility. She has a cousin (I think, I'm terrible at conversational details) who is absolutely convinced that Albert Einstein once played hockey in her tiny little town of Canwood, Saskatchewan.

Is it true? That I don't know for sure, but there's a few websites out there that make the same very vague claim.

The best and oft-repeated, albeit unsubstantiated, claim is from Saskatchewan Stories.com. It suggests that Albert Einstein was the goalie for the Canwood Canucks for a winter, though no time frame is mentioned. Supposedly the world's most famous 20th century theorist spent some time "sojourning north to Canada to find peace and silence for his work on the Theory of Relativity." The site also claims he had played hockey in his younger years in Germany.

The story also recently made its way onto to CBC radio, with speaker David Coleman suggesting Einstein's stay in Canwood was shortly after his moving to the United States.

This would place him in Saskatchewan likely in the early 1930s, which would put him around age 50. According to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, says Einstein renounced his German citizenship due to the rise of Adolph Hitler and moved to American. In 1933 he began teaching at Princeton University, a decade and a half after publishing his Theory of Relativity.

In my digging I also found out that Mr. Einstein was a friend of Frank Frederickson, the famous Winnipeg Falcons pivot of 1920 Olympic fame. Frederickson and Einstein met during Frederickson's years coaching at Princeton University. The two were apparently drawn to each other over the mutual love of the violin.

My thought process had Frederickson bringing his friend up north and perhaps the two played a pick up game or something, but that is a total stretch on my behalf.

So did Albert Einstein really play hockey for the Canwood Canucks? Or is this an urban myth? Or in the case of Canwood, Saskatchewan, population 374, a very rural myth?

Wikipedia also suggests Einstein craved isolation in order to conduct his work. I don't think you can get much more isolated. But Einstein was already world famous by this time frame. Is it possible he could hide, even in Canwood?

Perhaps the answer lies in the book Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain. Apparently some guy drove across the continent with Einstein's brain tucked in a Tupperware container inside of a duffel bag in the back of a Buick Skylark.

I bet that book might be the most entertaining and absurd piece you'll read this year.


Anonymous said...

Since the Canwood Canucks were formed in 1958 to join a senior hockey league, I doubt if Mr.Einstein could have played goal for them although he certainly would have qualified as a senior if he had not been deceased for 3 or 4 years at the time.

Anonymous said...

bahaha.. well, let's stretch the truth, and make it true, even if it's not true at all, he wouldve just played pick-up games, not league..such a great story though, let's make a movie of this!

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