Better skate than never, Chelsea man learns

For years, Jeff Meldrum has had a single, left hockey skate gathering dust in his basement. Last week, just when he'd resolved to finally get rid of it, something remarkable happened.

Jeff Meldrum had finally decided to get rid of his single, left skate when something remarkable happened

Reunited: Jeff Meldrum holds his Reebok skates, together again after seven years and one remarkable coincidence. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Jeff Meldrum was sorting through the landslide of sports equipment in the basement of his Chelsea, Que., home two weekends ago when he came across it once again — a single, forlorn hockey skate. A left without a right.

The black size 10D Reebok skate had been down there for years, but Meldrum and his family were preparing for a move to a smaller house in July, so this time there would be no last-minute pardon.

"Alright buddy, it's time for you to go," Meldrum said as he tossed the orphaned skate onto the discard pile.

The last time he can remember having a pair was one day about seven years ago when the family went for a skate at the local arena. Meldrum's son Owen, then four, fell to the ice and split open his chin.

The family scrambled off the rink, frantically stuffed their skates into a duffel bag and dashed out to the parking lot to rush Owen to Wakefield Memorial Hospital for stitches.

Élyse Piquette was walking along the roadside near her home in Chelsea, Que., when she found a single right skate. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Meldrum, 47, suspects that somewhere along the way, he lost his right skate.

The remaining left skate had survived previous "wardrobe edits" in the intervening years, including an earlier move in 2015.

"I couldn't bring myself to throw it away because it was brand new. I'd only used it two or three times," Meldrum explained.

So there it sat in the basement, gathering dust as skating seasons came and went. When Meldrum needed skates, he'd borrow a pair from a friend.

"What I was really afraid of was, the day I throw this out, I'll find the other one," he said.

Around the same time Meldrum was resolving to finally part with his odd skate, Élyse Piquette was coming to a remarkably similar decision. 

Piquette, who lives on Highway 105, about 10 kilometres from the Meldrum home, was cleaning clutter out of her garage when she uncovered a single skate, a black size 10D Reebok in nearly new condition. A right without a left.

Piquette had come across the skate seven years ago as she walked along the shoulder of Chemin de la Rivière, where she then lived.

"That's an expensive skate," she recalls thinking. Realizing someone must have lost it accidentally, she picked it up and took it home.

Last Monday, Piquette hung the skate from this signpost at the end of her driveway. That's when Meldrum and his son drove by. (Stu Mills/CBC)

For four weeks, Piquette paid for an ad in the lost and found section of her local newspaper, hoping the owner would come forward and claim the right skate. When no one did, she tried Kijiji. Still nothing.

Like Meldrum, something made Piquette hang on to the single skate, even when she moved house. And like Meldrum, she finally decided seven years was long enough. It was time to get rid of it.

She left the skate hanging by its lace from a signpost at the end of her driveway, alongside some hubcaps and a fire poker set she'd also hauled from her garage. You never know what some people will stop and take.

"People picked everything except [the skate]," Piquette said.

After all, who'd have any use for a single, right skate?

Meldrum and Owen, now 11 and bearing a faint scar on his chin, were driving down Highway 105 last Monday when Meldrum spotted it: a familiar-looking black hockey skate hanging from a signpost at the end of someone's driveway.

"I said to [Owen] jokingly, 'Hey we should turn around — maybe that's my skate,'" Meldrum recalled. As he was saying the words, he realized that's exactly what he had to do.

Meldrum turned the car around and pulled up in front of Piquette's driveway. There it was: a black size 10D Reebok skate in nearly new condition. A right.

'I have hope, and when I believe that something will come around, it often does,' Meldrum said. (Stu Mills/CBC)

There was no question in Meldrum's mind that this was the missing mate of the left skate he'd just resolved to throw away. But how did it end up here, at the end of a stranger's driveway? Had he left it on the roof of the family car that day? Had he forgotten it at the arena, where someone picked it up only to toss it away?

He'll never know what happened, but he knows it was a remarkable coincidence that he happened to be driving by Piquette's house that day.

"This is pretty lucky how this turned out," chuckled Meldrum, who said he's planning to deliver a cake to Piquette as a gesture of thanks. "I have hope, and when I believe that something will come around, it often does."

"That's amazing!" Piquette said when she heard the story. "That's just the happiest-possible ending to this!"

Jeff Meldrum, had finally decided to throw away the single skate that had been in his basement after he lost its partner seven years ago. But on a drive down Highway 105, he saw something astonishing hanging on a sign by the side of the road. 1:41

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