Saskatchewan

Love of hockey inspired Sask. man to turn old sticks into furniture, art

Dale Lovatt played hockey for decades before giving it up at 50-years-old. At the end of his time, he had a pile of broken sticks he didn't want to send to the landfill.

Dale Lovatt had a pile of broken sticks left over after decades playing hockey

Dale Lovatt in the workshop attached to his home in Wilcox, Sask. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Dale Lovatt's workspace is teeming with hockey. Not only is there every type of stick imaginable, there's also coffee tables, artwork, picture frames, chests and more, all made out of those sticks. 

The Sask. man played hockey for decades.

"We were always at the rink," Lovatt said.

He started collected old sticks: his, his son's and leftovers from the local rink in Wilcox, Sask. — where he drove a Zamboni — and a local school. Soon he had buckets full, with no plan for what to do with them. 

"I was always looking for something to make with them."

Dale Lovatt has wooden sticks and fiberglass sticks in his collection. The wooden ones serve as the base for the pegs on shelves while the fiberglass make his products light. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

After some thought, Lovatt took the sticks to his workshop and started cutting them up. He began by making coffee tables and donated them to local fundraisers. When Lovatt got a new job where he works only in the summer months, he started doing more elaborate projects during the winter.

Lovatt can turn the sticks into coffee tables, trunks, book cases, night stands, shelves, chalkboards, cork boards framed with hockey sticks, artwork, barbecue tool sets, snow brushes and picture frames.

"As long as I have the sticks available, I'll make stuff," he said. "When they dry up and I have to start searching for sticks, then that's when it's gonna get to be more of a problem."

The average shelf takes about seven to eight stick pieces. (Heidi Atter/CBC)
Dale Lovatt has smaller cut sticks in his heated work space. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

The small workshop is attached to his home. It gets cold in the winter, but one side area is insulated with an old TV, smaller buckets of sticks and a space heater. Lovatt spends most of his time in that area cutting, drilling, and gluing together the sticks to make his creations.

Hockey runs deep for Lovatt.

"Hockey's a community thing that keeps everybody motivated to keep the community running," he said. 

Dale Lovatt also works with sticks from other sports like ringette and lacrosse. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Travelling for the sport has given Lovatt the chance to see a fair bit of Saskatchewan. 

"I wasn't born and raised in Saskatchewan but I know a lot more back roads in Saskatchewan than people that have lived here all their lives," he said.

Now his craft has him travelling the province again to sell his wares.

Dale Lovatt especially enjoys working on artwork with hockey sticks. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

His work is popular enough that he needs to constantly be on the lookout for more sticks, he said. 

"I'll jump in the dumpsters," he said with a laugh. "If I'm driving down the street and Regina and somebody has got two [sticks] stuffed in their garbage in the morning I'll stop and I'll pull them out."

He is able to get a couple hundred a year, he said.

"If I have to make something out of the big stuff like a table or a trunk or a nightstand or something like that that's where the sticks disappear in a big hurry," he said.

Dale Lovatt's workshop is attached to his Wilcox, Sask. home. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Lovatt hopes to open a small store front at his home in Wilcox someday. He wants to keep moving inventory so he has a reason to keep making it.

"I would like to end up at the end of the craft sale season with nothing left and then start building it again and creating new items and and just keep having fun doing it."

Dale Lovatt currently has four coffee tables for sale and two trunks. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Anyone willing to donate sticks can reach Dale Lovatt at dlovatt@sasktel.net.

About the Author

Heidi Atter

AP/Journalist

Heidi Atter is a journalist working in Regina. She started with CBC Saskatchewan after a successful internship and has a passion for character-driven stories. Heidi has worked as a reporter, web writer, associate producer and show director so far, and has worked in Edmonton, at the Wainwright military base, and in Adazi, Latvia. Story ideas? Email heidi.atter@cbc.ca.

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