The Mohawk Manufacturing Company was a huge name in lacrosse back when wooden sticks were the only available option, and over 40 years ago you could buy one in a hardware store for about $8 pretty much anywhere in Quebec or Ontario. At their peak, the Mohawk Manufacturing Company was making tens of thousands of sticks every year out of Cornwall Island, and many great players used one of these at some point in their career, usually when they were kids.
The sticks were made starting in 1972, when Frank Benedict purchased an old factory and started mass producing wooden lacrosse sticks. This was also around the time that John Wesley Patterson started making sticks out of Tuscarora, and it was a booming time for wooden stick makers across a couple of native nations.
(Check out last week’s Wood Stick Wednesday post on Mike Thompson‘s new wooden sticks!)
The only problem with all this demand for wooden sticks was that it meant that sticks often needed to be mass-produced, and volume was valued heavily. So some of the old Mohawk sticks out there are just brutal because of the passage of time, while others just weren’t that great to begin with. That being said, if you do find a Mohawk Manufacturing Company stick that is in good condition, hang on to it, because it’s a truly wonderful piece of history, and a nice basic stick from our collective past.
It may sound like I am bashing larger runs of wooden stick production, but it’s just a reality that when volume goes way up, quality control tends to go down at least a bit. It’s seemingly inevitable. When you’re competing for the title of “really nice stick” with guys who produce only a couple hundred per year (or less), you can see why mass produced sticks can have their issues, at least in comparison.
The Mohawk stick that I got (a gift from Lee Southren, who got it from a friend) is a really nice one. While it’s been played with a lot, the original gut is still good to go, stiff, and well-formed. I only had to flatten it once, and it stayed flat, which was exciting. The scoop also shows little to no signs of cracking anywhere, and that is a straight up miracle. This stick has a kids name scratched into it, and has been sitting in a garage for decades, and there are no cracks? What are the chances…
The pocket was totally shot however, and the leathers could be ripped apart by hand. The crosslace used to be twine, but that was also pretty much destroyed. I put in long black leathers, and used yellow and orange string to finish it off with a high-count diamond pocket. The original gut shooter was also good to go (and probably helped the stick from warping too much over time), so I put the leathers back through it, and use it as my “lip” to throw off. As you can see below, this stick is actually quite accurate. My accuracy is another matter.
One important note about Mohawk Manufacturing Company sticks is that they are NOT the same as today’s Mohawk sticks. Today’s Mohawk brand sticks are made by Mohawk International Lacrosse, which is a totally different thing. We will talk about their great sticks in a future post.
Mohawk Manufacturing Company sticks are not the “nicest” sticks in the world, nor are they super rare. However, if you can find a nice one, it is a must-add item for any collector based on its importance to the game alone. Just think of how many people used one of these in decades past… the number could be well over 100-200,000 people. That’s crazy for a wooden stick company!
The other reason you’ll want a MMC stick is because they are actually quite nice, and basic. They are typically thinly carved, light, and great for kids. They have a bigger face area than a lot of other box sticks, and take a nice pocket if you want to re-string one for yourself. The side sticker is classic, and while I prefer an ink stamp, or a brand, I don’t mind a sticker telling me I’m special.
Thanks for reading, keep the wood tradition alive!