Friday, February 09, 2007

The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier

(Note - this post is dedicated to the newer Habs fans such as E at Theory of Ice and Matt at Current Habs history.)

Though a relatively recent story, "The Hockey Sweater" has become one of the best-known works of literature in Canada. It was made into a National Film Board of Canada (NFB) animated short in 1980, known as The Sweater, or Le Chandail. The short is often shown, in both French and English, to elementary school students, making it very well known amongst Canadian youth.

The story is widely considered an allegory for the linguistic and cultural tensions between anglophone and francophone Canadians, and an essential classic of Canadian literature. An excerpt from the story is now also commemorated in both official languages of Canada on the back of the Canadian five dollar bill.

Hockey Sweater" is based on the real experience of Carrier growing up in an isolated part of Quebec in the 1940's He, like all boys his age, was a big fan of the Montreal Canadiens and their star player, Maurice "The Rocket" Richard.

When Carrier's Montreal Canadiens hockey sweater wears out, his mother writes to the eaton's catalogue company to order a new one. Unfortunately, Habs jerseys are sold out, and the company instead sends a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater, the Canadiens' bitter arch rivals.

Roch Carrier in his Eaton's sent Leafs jersey. Notice all his friends!
A loyal fan of Les Habitants, Carrier protests having to wear the new sweater. But his mother refuses to let her son wear the old worn out sweater and, apparently unaware of the business's traditional policy they advertised, "Goods satisfactory, or money refunded", insists that if they were to return the sweater it may offend Mr. Eaton, himself a Leafs fan. As a result, young Carrier is forced to wear the Leafs sweater to his hockey game, feeling humiliated before the other players on the ice, each proudly wearing Canadiens sweaters.
Julian sent a link for a West Coast variation on the short added here - a must see for Canucks fans!


Jes GÅ‘lbez said...

What a cruel, cruel mother. She should have had her kid taken away from her!

What kind of sick, twisted, evil person buys their kid a Leafs sweater.

I remember reading that story as a kid...brought a tear to my eye :`(

Julian said...

I read that story to the group of new immigrants children who I was teachin English to last summer.

There's a funny modern adaptation of it on youtube..

might deserve a post of its own. It says something about the story when six kids in BC are willing to use their free time to make a modern day adaptation of the story.

RC Robert L said...

Eaton, the corrupt SOB was the deviant, Mom just made Roch wear it, which is bad enough to deserve incarceration.

The alternate ending had him using it for arsewipe,but then they made it into a children's story.

RC Robert L said...

Thanks Julian, I enjoyed that so much I added it to the post!

Matthew Macaskill said...

Nyce, thanks for the dedication mahn! :D

I grew up with this story. We even had half a day dedicated to the reading and veiwing of the short film back in elementary. Then, we even spent an English class on it in high-school. An epic tale indeed!

I wonder if there was some poor kid in Leaf land who was forced to wear a Habs jersey as a child, hehe.

RC Robert L said...

I don't know why but I remember this from school as well. Funny thing is, I graduated in 1980 and the book was published in '79.

When I was younger, playing street hockey, no one wore Leafs jerseys. It was all Habs and Bruins then.

hoopsjunky said...

Great post!

I didn't move to Canada until 1990 and I remember "Le chandail de hockey" as one of the first "Canadian" pieces I read. (Of course back then, I didn't fully understand the Habs/Leafs rivalry.)

This is a great trip down memory lane. Hope you don't mind if I post the video on my site as well.

J said...

Thank you so much for mentioning the movie in your blog, and thanks to julian for bringing it up as well.

At the suggestion of another Canucks fan (hoopsjunky), and after some discussion between the directors, we decided to submit our video to the Canucks' Ultimate Fan Contest.

If interested, voting is at

You must have a Youtube account to vote.