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Old hockey sticks coming out of the woodwork


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There was bound to be more than a little curiosity when a Quebec man listed an old hockey stick in an auction on eBay earlier this month. Particularly when the asking price is $1 million.
Bobby Rouillard, the son of a Quebec City antique dealer, said he paid $3,000 for his prized item which had come from Nova Scotia. Rouillard also suggested that the stick dated to the 1600s and was the world's oldest hockey stick.
Hockey experts and historians quickly disputed this claim and made reference to the first hockey being played in the 1800s.
It was 2006 that an Ontario man sold what was then believed to be the world's oldest hockey stick. Supposedly carved in the 1850s, the stick sold for $2.2 million.
Closer to home Ken Kennedy of Debert weighed in with a letter to the editor in the Truro Daily News. The retired Canadian Army officer, originally from Manuels, N. L., advised readers that he, too, might have an old hockey stick back in Newfoundland worth a few bucks.
Talking to Ken by telephone we both wondered how many other old hockey stick stories will surface.
It didn't take long.
In a telephone call to this writer, Mike Henderson advised that a Stanfield's Ltd. employee owned an old hockey stick very similar to the one pictured in a Truro Daily News article on Feb. 4.
Following Henderson's lead I drove to John MacCallum's Harmony Ridge home which is located approximately six miles east of Truro.
"I took the stick into work," MacCallum, a 26-year Stanfield's Ltd. millwright said.
"I wanted to show Mike Henderson because he's pretty knowledgeable about sports.
"My hope would be that someone with more experience would step up. For a number of years this stick was just one of my collections with old jugs, cigarette tins, oil lamps, carpenter tools and old kid's toys. I stored it in my bedroom with some other antiques."
As the conversation switched to where the hockey stick had come from, John's parents, Alden and Carol MacCallum, joined in.
"It was uncovered when visiting a cousin in Linden, near Oxford, probably about 25 years ago," said Carol. "I was looking through their old garage for oil cans or milk cans, something to paint, when I picked up this stick. My husband Alden pointed out that it was an old hockey stick. I gave the stick to John about 16 years ago when he moved into his home here on Harmony Ridge."
Carol and John explained that their interest was sparked by the story on Rouillard.
"I couldn't believe that someone could ask $1 million for an old hockey stick," said John.
"I couldn't wait to get home and have another close look at my stick because from the photo, his stick appeared to be very similar to mine."
And so it was.
John's stick is 44 inches (112 centimetres) long, approximately one inch longer then Rouillard's stick. Looking almost identical to the newspaper photo, it offers what might be clues to Canadian hockey historians.
Possibly used before hockey tape was available the tip of the stick's blade is wrapped for approximately two inches by leather.
The initials SAR are carved high up on the handle. On the other side of the handle are possible Roman numerals IXL. And what appears similar to a flag or what could have been a Mi'kmaq emblem is also clearly evident.
"It may not amount to a hill of beans," Carol said.
To this Alden responded, "It's still a darn good conversational piece though."
John, meanwhile, has been on
the receiving end of a few jokes at Stanfield's.
"Some of my friends continue to kid me. They ask me what I am doing still working when I own a million dollar hockey stick. My wife Myrna also works at Stanfield's as an inspector. I don't think we'll be doing anything too drastic."
A number of emails from Stena Cook of Pleasant Valley kept this writer abreast of the eBay auction and Rouillard's attempt to sell his hockey stick.
The 10-day auction closed Feb. 19 with no bids received. But Rouillard says he's not disappointed and that he's confident that his old hockey stick will sell.
As for John MacCallum, he's taking his time and seeking out more expertise regarding which way to proceed in learning the value of his own hockey stick.

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