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Lacrosse: Keeping the game’s history alive

The Story

The making of traditional, wooden lacrosse sticks is a unique art, and there is no better artisan in Canada than Mathew Etienne. For years, Etienne has sweated and toiled while honing his craft, supplying players both young and old with wooden sticks. In this CBC Television clip, Newswatch visits Etienne's Quebec workshop to see how this dedicated craftsman transforms a piece of hickory into an essential piece of accoutrement for the average lacrosse player. Though it's a delicate art form, it is a dying one as more and more players are using cheaper plastic sticks. It's a trend that has some worried. "I don't think lacrosse should be played with plastic. We call it Tupperware," opines local coach Gary Carbonnell. In spite of the boom in plastic stick sales, Etienne plans to tirelessly forge ahead and preserve the traditional values of lacrosse. "I'll take my tears to the grave," he says with a wry smile. 

Medium: Television
Program: Newswatch
Broadcast Date: May 6, 1993
Guest(s): Mathew Etienne
Reporter: Fiona Downey
Duration: 3:37

Did You know?

• Matthew Etienne was enshrined as a charter inductee into the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1997, in the builders category.

• The average lacrosse stick measures 48 inches in length. Originally, the handle was hand-carved from hickory, while the webbing was made from slippery elm bark that was boiled and twisted to form the lacing. Today the webbing is made from nylon, leather and sinew.

• The case for wooden sticks: plastic heads break down more easily; wooden sticks absorb impact better; plastic handles can get very cold.

• The case for plastic sticks: balls can be picked up off the ground more quickly; plastic sticks are lighter; shooting with a plastic stick is believed to be more accurate and faster.

• Wooden sticks are not allowed in the National Lacrosse League for safety reasons. (In a game such as lacrosse that features a lot of stick checking, it's believed that wood sticks cause more permanent injuries than plastic sticks). Wooden sticks are only allowed in a handful of summer lacrosse leagues in Canada and the U.S.

• Gary Carbonnell formed the Iroquois Lacrosse League in 1993 in an effort to reintroduce the game to all of the Iroquois communities. The league is comprised of seven teams, with the league champions advancing to the Presidents Cup, the Canadian Senior B championship.



Lacrosse: A History of Canada's Game more