‘It’s fi­nally in its right­ful place’

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

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY KYLE LARUSIC

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.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.

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