Born in Toronto, Harvey Pulford spent nearly all his life in the Ottawa Valley. He demonstrated his exceptional athletic skills early and at the age of 13 he was declared overall sports champion at the Ottawa Model School. In 1892 he began playing defense for the Ottawa Hockey Club of the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada. Tutored by Weldy Young, Pulford remained a fixture of the club until his retirement in 1908.
In 1901 he altered his style of play from merely flipping the puck out of his own end to carrying the puck up the ice toward the opposing team's net. During the period 1902 to 1905, Pulford captained the Ottawa Hockey Club, which came to be known as the Silver Seven. His partnership with Art Moore proved to be a formidable barrier to onrushing forwards. This team dominated the Canadian Amateur Hockey League and the Federal Amateur Hockey League while winning or defending the Stanley Cup several times between 1903 and 1905.
Ottawa's first Stanley Cup came at the expense of the Montreal Victorias in a two-game series in March 1903 and the triumph was highlighted by an 8-0 rout in the decisive contest. A few days later Pulford's crew successfully fended off the challenge of the Rat Portage (later Kenora) club of northwestern Ontario. In December the same year they overcame the Winnipeg Rowing Club in a battle that lasted three games. Not known for his scoring touch, Pulford contributed a goal in Ottawa's successful defense of the Stanley Cup against the Toronto Marlboros of the OHA in February 1904. A month later they weathered the challenge of Brandon, the Manitoba champions, in a rugged two-game set.
The 1905 season brought the Ottawa club the championship of the FAHL. In January of that year they suppressed the Cup ambitions of the Dawson City squad by an aggregate score of 32-4. Two months later, in one of Pulford's greatest performances, Ottawa survived a clash with the highly skilled Rat Portage outfit. The challengers from Ontario's northwest dominated the opening match, but Ottawa equalized two days later to set the stage for a memorable deciding game. Pulford, who was instructed to throw his weight around throughout the contest, was superb against the speedy Rat Portage forwards in a 5-4 Ottawa victory. A year later came his last two successful Cup defenses against Queen's University and Smiths Falls.
Pulford didn't limit his accomplishments to the hockey rink. He was one of the best athletes ever produced in Canada and combined Stanley Cup success with an array of victories and awards in other sports. Rowing was one of his lifelong passions. He won numerous Canadian titles with the Ottawa Rowing Club between 1905 and 1912, and his ultimate thrill came in 1911 when his crew topped the English and Belgian teams in the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta. Pulford also achieved national success as a paddler with the Britannia Boating Club.
Pulford was elected to the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame in 1966. If not for Lionel Conacher, he would likely have been named Canada's top male athlete of the first half of the 20th century. Pulford took his place in the Hockey Hall of Fame as a charter member in 1945.