This Friday during the PONTIACS game versus the Spruce Grove SAINTS the oldest known manufactured hockey stick in existence will be visiting the R.J. LaLonde Arena.
Mark O’CONNELL found the stick in 1990 in the attic of a cottage in Orillia, Ontario, and it then sat on his workbench for about 10 years. “I thought nothing of it. I just put it there for the kids to play with it,” said O’CONNELL. In fact, it might also be the oldest stick used for a game of road hockey, as that is exactly what they did with the hockey stick, until O’CONNELL began to realize there might be some significance to the wood.
He first got a clue when he saw an artist’s conception of what is believed to be the first game of hockey. The size of the sticks used in the historic image was similar to the small, one-metre piece of lumber O'CONNELL had in his possession. The faint lettering on the stick’s blade reads “Ditson,” an early sporting goods company that later merged to form “Wright and Ditson,” which was later bought by Spalding. Based on that, the stick has been dated to prior to 1871. It’s not clear where the stick was made, but there is some speculation it may have been manufactured in Boston.
O’CONNELL was inspired further when heard about another historic stick. A Canadian auctioned off in December a family heirloom that is thought to be the oldest hockey stick of any kind, carved by hand around the mid-1850s. The auction scored about $2.2 million. The buyer agreed to put it on display in the Hockey Hall of Fame, while the seller apparently put the money towards a charity initiative.
Come on down to the R.J. this Friday and see one of hockey’s rarest artifacts – the oldest known manufactured hockey stick in existence.