Mi’kmaq Story Tellers

Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Story Tellers by Garth Vaughan © 1999

“Old Joe” Cope, a much respected and multi-talented Mi’kmaq elder, was a boxer, musician, and hockey stick carver. As an historian of the Mi’kmaq nation, he traveled from village to village keeping in touch with the life of the Mi’kmaq. In 1943, on reading that a claim was made that Ice Hockey began in Kingston, Ontario, he wrote this message to the editor of the Halifax Herald from his home at Millbrook Reserve, Colchester County, N.S. “Long before the pale faces strayed to this country, the Micmacs were playing two ball games, a field game and an ice game.”

The native craftsmen had long been making sticks for their own games named Oochamkunutk and Alchamadyk. Their one-piece, hand-carved sticks had been shipped across Canada for decades, ever since the 1870s, when Montreal athletes first took up the Nova Scotia winter game of Ice Hockey. Indeed, the first games played between Queen’s University and the Royal Military College in Kingston in 1886, were played with sticks imported from Nova Scotia. Joe Cope was one of those carvers and was merely trying to set the historic facts straight regarding the place where the game and the equipment with which it is played had originated. Oochamkunutk was the name of their own game and Alchamadyk was the name they gave to the new game of “Hurley on Ice” being played by others around the province.

Sandy Julien and Raymond Cope

Sandy Julien and Raymond Cope

Sandy Julien and Raymond Cope of Millbrook are senior citizens today who played Ice Hockey from childhood through their senior years. As well as playing on fully native teams, they also played for the Truro Bearcats, representing the town of Truro in the Nova Scotia Senior Hockey League. They related the story of their fathers carving hockey sticks, drying them by the kitchen stove and shipping them by train to Halifax from where they were sold across Canada.

To learn more about Mi’kmaq craftsmen see Origin – “MicMac” Sticks to Learn more about Queen’s U and R.M.C. in Kingston in 1886 see Origin – Kingston – Sutherland