Canadian ice hockey skates

Fig.1: Hockey skates, c. 1890
These skates are mainly known as Halifax skates, after the town where they were made, but also as Forbes skates after their designer. They were put on by means of two lever operated clamping mechanisms. The heel is fastened lengthwise and the forefoot athwart. The system requires no tools that can be forgotten or lost. These were the first ice hockey skates without straps. The design is considered to have been very innovative and thus revolutionary. It was patented in 1888 and has been used as a model for all following ice skates with attachments that make use of clamps and/or screw spindles.

The Forbes Manufacturing Co, Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada)
Technical data: total length: 31 cm; platform: length x width x height: 25 x 7-9 x 4 cm; blade: height x width: 25 x 10 mm; weight: 565 g


The Forbes Mfg. Co
Halifax N.S. Canada


Forbes New Skate
Patented Oct. 1888

Fig.2: Hockey skates, c. 1875

This is a drawing of the very first special hockey skates that were designed by Forbes. As can be seen clearly the clamp mechanism does not require any tool to be operated. The skates could be fixed to the boots in just one act. Correct adjustment required some skill. Therefore the idea of using just one lever was given up.

Manufacturer: The Starr Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Fig.3: Club skates, c. 1865

Here the original ACME club skates are shown. Already in 1863 Forbes obtained a patent for the lever operated clamp mechanism.

Manufacturer: The Starr Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada


John Forbes
was son of a
Scottish immigrant
who settled in Nova Scotia
around 1800.

He was employed by The
Starr Manufacturing Co. Ltd. where he designed
a lever operated clamp mechanism for which he obtained a patent in 1863.

Based on this system he designed the
ACME club skate
which brought him
a further patent in 1866.

This model became
and the example for
many an imitation.

Forbes restlessly kept searching for improvement
of the mechanism and obtained one patent
after the other.

The patents of
1873 and 1888
must be mentioned
as they led to
what became
worldwide known
Halifax skates.

It is this type of skates
that is shown
in figure 1
at the top
of the left column.

In 1880 Forbes started a company of his own.

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