Nova Scotia

Town puts 'giant hockey stick on our porch' in Humboldt tribute

The six metre long hockey stick now sits outside the Rath Eastlink Community Centre in Truro.

Artist creates huge stick and puck installation outside Truro community centre

The hockey stick is six metres long and has a puck that features a poem about the Humboldt tragedy written by Wayne Smith. (Submitted by Matt Moore)

At six metres tall, the giant hockey stick outside the Rath Eastlink Community Centre in Truro, N.S., catches the eye, but it's what that piece of metal represents that makes people tear up. 

It's an artist's tribute to the 16 people who died in a bus crash that involved the Humboldt Broncos hockey team earlier this month in Saskatchewan. Since the tragedy, people have been leaving their hockey sticks on their porches in memory of those who died. 

"This is a great opportunity for our large community centre to put a giant hockey stick out on our porch and it really is a representation not just of the facility, but of the community at large," said Matt Moore, the general manager of the community centre. 

"This hockey stick represents a lot more than just hockey."

Salmon River welder and artist Wayne Smith built the hockey stick and puck. The night of the crash he wrote a poem in memory of the people who died. But he wanted to do more.

That's when he decided he would construct the massive hockey stick. 

Wayne Smith, a welder and artist in Salmon River, N.S., built the hockey stick and puck now installed at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre. (Submitted by Matt Moore)

"Of course to catch anybody's attention it has to be of a certain size. So I designed it, it's five times the average size of an ordinary hockey stick," said Smith.   

Building giant sculptures is nothing new for Smith. He's built sculptures that weigh up to 25 tonnes. His largest piece was a massive cannon that honoured soldiers, police and firefighters that died in the line of duty. Smith also included a poem on the cannon.

Hockey stick sits on the front porch of a house in Humboldt, Sask., one of the many such tributes across the country. (The Canadian Press)

The poem Smith wrote on the night of the Humboldt bus crash has also found a home — it's featured on a the large metal puck next to the hockey stick. 

Emotional reactions to hockey stick

Smith said he's watched people become emotional as they've approached the hockey stick. An elderly man told him it was the most touching thing he had ever seen. 

"When you see it goes from the age group of 10 years old to a man 80-plus being touched, their heart being touched by something that I've created, I feel my life has been complete." 

Moore has also seen a range of reactions to the stick. 

"Youth coming into our facility getting ready to play a hockey game themselves — they'll drop their stick and puck and take a picture with it. I've seen some people that on a regular basis come in and walk our community walking track and some have gotten quite emotional. It's been a win all around I think," said Moore. 

The stick and puck are going to be a permanent part of the Rath Eastlink Community Centre, although Moore said the sculpture may be moved closer to the building's entrance. 

With files from Maritime Noon