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100-year-old hockey stick donated to Membertou Heritage Park

Stewart Matheson, right, poses with his grandson, Cailex Tournidis, and Membertou First Nation Chief Terry Paul, at the Membertou Sport and Wellness Centre after the century-old hockey stick owned by Matheson’s family was donated to Membertou Heritage Park last week.
Stewart Matheson, right, poses with his grandson, Cailex Tournidis, and Membertou First Nation Chief Terry Paul, at the Membertou Sport and Wellness Centre after the century-old hockey stick owned by Matheson’s family was donated to Membertou Heritage Park last week.

MEMBERTOU, N.S. — Legend has it the Mi’kmaq were the first to play the game of hockey hundreds of years ago.

When Stewart Matheson was thinking about what he should do with a hockey stick in his basement that was created by the Mi’kmaq over a century ago, he thought the best place for it was at the Membertou Heritage Park.

“It was collecting dust in my basement and I think it’s finally in its rightful place,” he said on Thursday.

Matheson had been planning on donating the hockey stick for a couple years and finally decided to do so last week. The stick has been in his family for about 100 years.

“I had been talking with people of the Membertou community for quite some time now and felt it was something that needed to be done.”

Jeff Ward, the general manager of Membertou Heritage Park, explained the story about the Mi’kmaq creating hockey.

According to legend, the creator Glooscap went after his family that had been stolen by the winter god Winpe.

Winpe challenged him to a game for his family. Winpe then froze the ice and gave Glooscap a stick and a ball.

These would later transform into the hockey stick and the hockey puck.

Glooscap won the game, freeing his family. He also took the game back and showed it to his people. This would develop into hockey for their winter sport and lacrosse for their summer sport.

Ward said no one could put a dollar value to the stick.

“This stick tells a story. It links our heritage over 100 years back,” he said.

Ward also described how strong the hockey sticks were made a century ago.

“The Mi’kmaq people were the best at woodwork. We also made axe handles to go along with hockey sticks.”

Ward encourages everyone to come view the stick and learn more about the history of it, along with other exhibits at the Membertou Heritage Park.

When asked why he never sold the hockey stick online, Matheson simply said he didn’t feel like it was the right thing to do.

“I always knew Membertou was the right place for it to be,” said Matheson.

Growing up, Matheson used to play hockey with people from Membertou and still does today, although he never used this particular hockey stick.

“My great-uncles got a lot of use out of it, but I never wanted to damage it. It held too much sentimental value.”

 

Kyle LaRusic is a second-year student in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown, P.E.I. He is on a four-week internship at the Cape Breton Post. He can be reached at kyle.larusic@cbpost.com

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