The term Legend is over used but in the case of Alf Jacques, legend is most defiantly suitable. Chief Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan recently said “Alfie Jacques is a national treasure of the Haudenosaunee". Sadly that national treasure was called by the creator to play with his ancestors in the big game in the game.
Since learning on Alf's passing, there has been a huge number of people across the lacrosse community sharing stories about a man who was quite simply an amazing human being. I was fortunate enough to meet Alf during a number of Laxcon events, a man who was incredibly friendly and generous with his time who had a love for the game that was infectious but more importantly was able to share and preserve the history and spirit of the medicine game with all those he met.
Alfie Jacques was a superstar. I often wondered if he knew just how many people had watched the many YouTube videos of the Stickmaker, artist, master craftsman and all around super nice person. Alf learnt to make traditional wooden lacrosse sticks alongside his father Louise Jacques, beginning at the age of 11, together they would make 10,000 sticks a year before the plastic sticks would take over the game in the 1970's. For those of us who collect wooden sticks, an Alf Jacques stick is highly sort after and for most is the jewel in the crown.
The first lacrosse convention I attended I was there on a shoestring budget, visited Alf's booth and was in awe of his work but also the man. The people clamored around him as if he was the biggest name in pro lacrosse. Alf's stick were beautiful but outside of my budget and I'd only just started my own wood stick collection, I came back to the UK without an Alf Jacques stick. They say you learn from your mistakes, I learnt on the occasion.
In 2016, the year the snow almost closed down Laxcon and the city of Baltimore, I pulled the trigger. The snow kept many people away from the convention that year, which was great for me as you had so much more time to speak to the brands and people like Alf. Having looked at a number of sticks he had for sale I asked Alf if he could help me pick one, he told me that the stick would speak to me and I'd know which one would be the stick I would take home. I picked up one, two, three sticks....there was no need to pick up another, this one felt different, a feeling that I can only describe as an instant connection, it was if this stick had been waiting for me. I was told that I was not to sit on a wall for display as sticks are meant to be used and I have used that stick often, there's been plenty of times over the years of running this business that the stick has been my medicine.
I've always been fascinated with the history of the game and the history of the sticks. My collection has grown to be one of the biggest you'll find and every laxcon I've attended since 2016 I may have spent more time hanging around Alf's booth taking about sticks and showing him photos I sticks and makers marks then I've spent with the big brands of todays game.
This photo was taken at the 2023 Laxcon, I spent a good amount of time chatting with Alf this year. At one point my friend almost had to drag me away as I will admit that I may have been fanboying somewhat. There was one stick in my collection by a little known maker and I picked Alf's brain only to find he made one my the same maker and he had not come across another, I so nearly took the stick to the US on that trip to show him but had been afraid of it getting damaged. Alf told me that he had made touch with the makers exiting family on the phone to discover they were French Canadians who spoke French on the phone to him and hung up! I told Alf I would bring it to him on my next trip, sadly I'll not get that chance now.