Hockey Sticks in Membertou
The Membertou Heritage Park is home to a very special wooden hockey stick that is OVER 100 YEARS OLD. The stick is carefully placed in one of the exhibits within the park that houses old artefacts and sacred pieces of our communities history. The stick has been recently donated to Membertou by Stewart Matheson of Sydney. The story of the special stick is an important one, so we want to share it with YOU.
The stick has been in Matheson's family for over a century and he believes that it was created by the Mi'kmaq people. Stewart donated the stick to the community of Membertou after it had been sitting in his basement for many years. He says that he feels it belongs in our community.
As Mi'kmaq people, we have our own connection to the game of hockey. Many talk about the legend that the Mi'kmaq people were the first ones to play the sport.
According to legend, Glooscap the Creator had his family stolen by the winter god, Winpe. Winpe stated that if Glooscap wanted his family back he would have to play a game. Glooscap could earn his family back if he WON this game. Glooscap agreed to play. Winpe froze the water and turned it into ice. After the ice was created he gave Glooscap a ball and stick and explained the rules. Glooscap ended up winning the game and freed his family. He took the game back to show his people what he had learned. This is how hockey is said to have begun.
Our people were skilled wood workers and still are to this day. In the 19th Century, commercial sticks were made from carved hornbeam and later were created from ash and birch. The crafters would look for a root with a natural bend,good flexibility and strength. The wood was cut into crude sticks with square saws and were hung up to dry. A drawknife was used to fine tune the wood into a hockey stick.
Historically, Aboriginal communities across Nova Scotia created thousands of sticks and shipped them as far as Montreal and Kingston. It was a primary source of income for families. The sticks were known for their quality and would sell for 0.25 or 0.50 cents at markets.
Homemade hockey sticks are considered rare. When asked why he didnt sell his hockey stick online, he responded that it did not feel like the right thing to do. The incredible piece of history can now be viewed at the Membertou Heritage Park and is living proof of the Mi'kmaq people's vital contributions to Canada's favourite game!