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Nova Scotia man sells historic hockey stick for $300,000

NORTH SYDNEY - A Cape Breton hockey stick, believed to be one of the oldest in the world, has been sold for $300,000, six years after a North Sydney barber accepted an offer of $1,000 for the sporting artifact.

Mark Presley holds what is thought to be the world's oldest known ice hockey stick during an announcement at the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa on Wednesday, January 9, 2015. The museum purchased the hockey stick from Presley and it will be featured in the Canadian History Hall, opening in July, 2017.

The stick, fashioned from a tree near Pottle Lake in the 1830s, had been displayed in George Ferneyhough’s downtown North Sydney barbershop for more than 30 years before he agreed to sell it to Mark Presley, of Berwick, in 2008.

The now retired 73-year-old barber said while he had suspicions the stick might be worth something more when he sold it, there’s nothing he can do about missing out on the big money paid to Presley by the Canadian Museum of History.

“I should have clued in when he came in and offered me $1,000 right off the bat, said Ferneyhough, who cut hair for more than 45 years.

“I should have clued in that there was something behind it, but at the time I probably would have taken $50 for it — I’m not losing any sleep over it, what’s done is done.”

After purchasing the stick, Presley had it examined at Mount Allison University, in Sackville, N.B., where it was determined the artifact had been carved out of a tree almost 180 years ago.

Researchers in the university’s dendrochronology lab determined the approximate age of the stick after they removed core samples from a number of trees near Pottle Lake and compared their rings to the rings left on the hockey stick.

At the time of the research, Colin Laroque, now at the University of Saskatchewan, was the director of the Mount Allison lab.

“We came up with a date of 1835-1838,” Laroque told the Cape Breton Post in 2010.

Archival research stick indicates that W.M. (Dilly) Moffat, of North Sydney, was probably the original owner of the stick that has the initials “W M” carved into the blade.

Records indicate Moffat was born in 1829 and that his family had a homestead on Pottle Lake.

The stick will go on display at the Canadian Museum of History, in Gatineau, Que., on Canada Day, 2017.

Meanwhile, Ferneyhough said it is unlikely he will ever get a share of Presley’s windfall.

“He (Presley) was asked about that and he said ‘not in your lifetime’,” said Ferneyhough.

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