by Ron Spence
Eveleth, Minnesota and Duncan, British Columbia have been involved in a teacup battle straight out of The Mouse That Roared.
Eveleth, about three hours north of Minneapolis-St. Paul, on US Highway 53, has a population of 3593 – and falling. Duncan, west of Vancouver on Vancouver Island, has approximately 4700 people.,
They are both small towns, with large hockey sticks, and both believe that they have the World’s Largest Hockey Stick – referred to as “The Big Stick” in Eveleth.
Evelth has had two large sticks. The old stick was built in 1995, of white and yellow aspen. It was 7,000 pounds and 107 feet long. The accompanying puck was 700 pounds and 5 feet in diameter. It was designed and built by Christian Brothers Hockey Sticks, Warroad, Minnesota. The new stick is 10,000 pounds and 110 feet in length, and was designed and built by Sentinel Structures Inc. of Peshtigo, Wisconsin.
It cost $60,000 to construct and replace the first one, and complements a Hockey Plaza, where you can buy pieces of the old stick at the gift shop
Whereas, the Evelth stick was paid for by local businesses and residents, the Duncan stick was built in Penticton, British Columbia, and paid for by the Canadian government. It was shipped to Vancouver – in two pieces – and installed in the Worlds Fair, called Expo 86, which coincidentally was held in 1986.
After the fair, a contest was held, and Duncan was awarded the stick.
The Duncan stick weighs 61,000 pounds and is 205 feet long. It was built from Douglas Fir wooden beams, reinforced with steel, and was shipped on three flat bed trucks.
In Duncan, the World’s Largest Hockey Stick Society was formed, and raised over $150,000 in cash. This was for on-site preparation, dismantling, shipping, and reassembly. Then, seven years later, the ownership was transferred to the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
Some Duncan residents contacted the Guinness Book of Records, who agreed to investigate their claim that they had the World’s Largest Hockey Stick.
“They came out and took pictures and then went away and then low and behold we saw that Minnesota has the largest stick,” said Dick Drew, who used to own CKAY Radio in Duncan. “It always annoyed us and frustrated us. No matter how you measure it, ours is bigger.”
The Duncan contingent appealed to Guinness several times, but were told that the Minnesota stick was in one piece, and thus the biggest stick per se.
Meanwhile, Duncan continued to call their piece of wood, the “World’s Largest Hockey Stick” anyways.
As luck would have it – from the Duncan point of view – Jimmy Pattison purchased the Guinness World Book Company, and they contacted him. Pattison, of course, was the Vancouver billionaire, who had spearheaded Expo 86, where the stick had resided for over a year, and he quickly told his employees that Duncan’s was the biggest stick.
So, Duncan has The World’s Largest Hockey Stick & Puck.
But, some just won’t let the tempest die.
Vancouver Island.com, wrote:
“The Guinness Book of World Records officially bestowed the title of the world’s largest hockey stick on July 14, 2008 after a 20-year battle for recognition. At one third the length of Duncan‘s stick, residents of Minnesota can no longer claim their 21-metre wooden hockey stick to be the biggest.”
Now, for the life of me, I can’t understand why a publication – which wants to bring tourists to Duncan and Vancouver Island – would be insulting the people of Minnesota – and indirectly, other Americans.
It’s not good business.
And then the media has also gotten involved.
Tiffany Crawford, from Canwest News Service wrote a piece, published last June 27th, which she started with “Stick this Minnesota.”
She used loaded phrases like “20-year battle … a small community … [and] getting its wish.”
And, “…Minnesota’s 21-metre wooden hockey stick will no longer be No. 1.”
The only person she interviewed was Dick Drew, who now lives in Maple Ridge. It would be like having lived in Evelth, and now residing in St. Paul.
Tiffany didn’t interview anyone who is still living in Duncan.
“If you Google the world’s largest hockey stick, it brings you to Duncan,” said Drew, chuckling.
“Dick Drew,” she continued, “said there will be celebrating and dancing in Duncan, B.C.”
Well, if Dick and Tiffany were to check on Google, there’s no record of any “celebrating and dancing” in Duncan.
And if anyone sneezes in Duncan, it’s in the newspaper and thus on Google.
And the people of Duncan like “celebrating and dancing.” I know, I have relatives who live there.
Also, not everyone living in Duncan is enamoured with the stick.
Duncan is located next to a First Nations community, and Hai-Etlik, a First Nations artist says this about their stick:
And if Duncan’s “Big Stick” is an eyesore, so is Eveleth’s. One tourist wrote on a travel website:
The people of Eveleth are at least more pragmatic than their Duncan counterparts. They now call their attraction “The World’s Largest Authentic Hockey Stick,” or the World’s Largest Free-Standing Hockey Stick and Puck.”
Besides, they have more things on their minds besides semantics.
“The Big Stick” isn’t visible from U.S. Highway #53, and some businesses would like to move it, so that the tourists can see it as they are driving through Minnesota, and maybe stop.
But, the downtown Eveleth business owners don’t like this idea, because the tourists who stop at the stick located on the highway, won’t bother coming into town and spending their tourist dollars.
The editors of Roadside America.com have a simple solution for this situation.
A second post-script story concerns an ebay purchase, and points out another problem that Eveleth has:
So, it’s much ado about a couple of pieces of wood.
Perhaps the best perspective comes from Eveleth’s Melinda St. Sauver.
“So… it boils down to this,” she wrote. “They have the largest sculpture, and we have the largest real hockey stick. So if any giants ever need to play hockey… our stick is the one they will use.”