The Canadian Museum of History has acquired what is being called the world’s oldest known ice hockey stick. Known as the Moffatt stick, it is believed to have been hewn in the 1830s in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, from a single piece of sugar maple.
The Museum purchased the artifact from Mark Presley of Nova Scotia through its donor-supported National Collection Fund. It will be featured in the Canadian History Hall, opening on July 1, 2017. Presley had offered the stick on eBay last year but pulled the auction down amid fears the stick might be purchased and leave Canada.
“Hockey is Canada’s game — we developed it and we cherish it like no other country in the world,” said Mark O’Neill, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of History. “The Moffatt stick is a unique and powerful link to the sport’s earliest days in this country, and is an example of the national treasures Canadians will see in their new national museum of history.”
The price of the short-handled, long-bladed stick was $300,000. Presley bought it from the barbershop in 2008 for $1,000.
“I am proud and thankful to have had the opportunity to contribute to and share in the story and wonder of the Moffatt stick. Many skilled and creative minds contributed to this remarkable story,” said Presley. “And now, all Canadians will be able to share in its significance and meaning.”
“Our Government is proud that the Canadian Museum of History has acquired this important part of our history,” said Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. “Through its acquisitions, the Canadian Museum of History provides Canadians with greater access to our rich and diverse history. As we approach Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, this is an opportunity for all of us to appreciate our great heritage.”
Presley says the stick was owned by the Moffatt family from the time of its creation until the early 1980s. It was then given to the owner of a barbershop in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, where it was displayed until purchased by Presley in 2008.
Genealogical evidence and oral histories provided by the Moffatt family and members of Cape Breton’s historical community were the first steps in tracing the story of the stick. Its authenticity and provenance is further supported by scientific analysis of its wood, wear and paint.
Presley’s passion for culture and heritage led him to research and document the stick’s age and provenance. He was told by Charlie Moffatt, then 92 years old, that the stick was used by his grandfather in hockey games on Pottle Lake, near North Sydney.
At Presley’s request, the stick was analyzed by experts at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. They say their results indicated that the wood used to make the stick was harvested in Cape Breton in the mid-to late 1830s — making it the oldest hockey stick known to exist.