Captain James Thomas Sutherland laboured for many years on behalf of amateur hockey in Canada. His passion for the game inspired him to become one of the most creative and diligent administrators ever associated with hockey. A tribute to Sutherland's accomplishments was the fact that his peers often referred to him as the "Father of Hockey."
The native of Kingston, Ontario played hockey on a regular basis until he was seventeen. Included in his playing experience was a stint as a defenceman with the Athletic Club of Kingston in the Dominion of Canada's first official league.
Once his playing days concluded, Sutherland channelled his interest in hockey towards its improvement via policy changes or the implementation of existing standards. Firstly, he helped organize the Frontenac Hockey Club of Kingston an organization that he eventually led to the Ontario junior championship. In 1910 he was appointed to the Ontario Hockey Association executive where his vision and creativity immediately became apparent. He functioned in this capacity until 1915 when he began a two-year reign as the organization's president. Sutherland's efforts produced a rule change whereby the old positions of point and cover point where changed to right and left defence. He also established a trophy to honour those men who gave their lives during World War I. This award became the Memorial Cup, symbolizing Canadian junior hockey supremacy.
Between 1915 and 1918, Sutherland served as the President of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA). He was instrumental to the establishment of the annual exhibition match between RMC and West Point in 1923. Sutherland was a major reason why the National Hockey League and the CAHA selected Kingston to be the home of the future International Hockey Hall of Fame. Although construction was delayed by high costs and the NHL-based Hockey Hall of Fame was opened in Toronto in 1961, the new facility in Kingston was completed in 1965.
Captain Sutherland was granted lifetime membership in the CAHA and OHA and the "grandmaster of hockey" was elected as a member of the International Hockey Hall of Fame. The Kingston-based shrine took his honour one step further by naming one of the display halls after their famous native son.
Sutherland was among the first men inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, in 1945.