The Minto Cup: Before the Juniors

Postcard of the Minto Cup, ca. 1909
Postcard of the Minto Cup, ca. 1909

Donated on March 16, 1901 by the Governor-General of Canada, Sir Gilbert John Murray Kynynmond Elliot, 4th Earl of Minto, the Minto Cup was awarded to the senior amateur lacrosse champions of Canada. Lord and Lady Minto enjoyed such outdoor recreation and activities as ice skating and bicycling during their stay in Canada – and, apparently, in the summer months, Lord Minto also liked to play lacrosse.

Originally restricted to amateurs, within three years the first under-the-table professional teams were already competing for it. After 1904, with efforts to keep the professionals out of competition proving to be futile, it was made open to all challengers.

The Ottawa Capitals were handed the cup in 1901 as its first holders on account of being champions of the National Lacrosse Union the previous season. The first Minto Cup championship game was played on September 29, 1901 between Ottawa Capitals and Cornwall Colts. Won by Ottawa 3 goals to 2, the future King George V and Queen Mary were both in attendance as spectators – and after the match, he was presented with a lacrosse stick and the game ball.

Montréal Shamrocks won the league play for the National Lacrosse Union in 1901 and took over possession of the silver trophy. Later that year, the Shamrocks defeated Vancouver YMCA 5-0 in the first challenge from the Pacific Coast.

The Shamrocks became the first Minto Cup dynasty team as they managed to retain their hold over the trophy for six of the next seven seasons between 1901 and 1907 through a combination of winning league play in the National Lacrosse Union and fending off challenge attempts from outsiders.

In 1902, the Shamrocks defeated New Westminster in a two-game, total-goals series by an aggregate of 11-3. Montréal then repeated in 1903, 1904, and 1905 as league champions – but did not face another challenge from outside the National Lacrosse Union until they defeated the St. Catharines Athletics, champions of the Canadian Lacrosse Association, 13-4 in a two-game, total-goals series in 1905.

Stereoscope image of the future King George V attending the first Minto Cup game played on September 29, 1901.

Next up was a challenge from Manitoba when a team from the small prairie town of Souris, located 23 kilometres southwest of Brandon, made a play for the cup, losing 10-2 in the first game and then throwing in the towel when the second game was subsequently cancelled.

Ottawa Capitals regained the cup in 1906. After the National Lacrosse Union finished in a four-way tie between Toronto Tecumsehs, Toronto Lacrosse Club, Ottawa Capitals, and Cornwall Colts each with 7 wins to their credit, a tiebreaker playoff series was required. The Tecumsehs defeated their crosstown Toronto rivals 12-7 in aggregate score while the Capitals defeated the Colts 8-2 in their two-game, total goals series. Ottawa then met the Toronto Tecumsehs in the two-game final and took the silverware on the heels of their lopsided 14-3 aggregate result in the two-game final.

Going against usual form, the Montréal Shamrocks collapsed in 1906 when they finished in last place. Goaltending was abysmal and the team suffered through many close losses, losing six games by a total of just eight goals. However the Irish would bounce back in 1907 and win the National Lacrosse Union with 10 wins from 12 games played for their sixth and ultimately final Minto Cup championship.

Tom Gifford standing on top of the world with the Minto Cup as the Salmonbellies reign supreme, ca. 1909
Tom Gifford standing on top of the world with the Minto Cup as the Salmonbellies reign supreme, ca. 1909

1908 was a pivotal year in the history of the Minto Cup when the New Westminster Salmonbellies defeated the Montréal Shamrocks 12 to 7 in their two-game, total-goals series. The first game of the series was a close 6-5 result before the Salmonbellies responded with a commanding 6-2 win in the rematch to clinch the silverware.

With the benefit of hindsight, the 1908 New Westminster-Montréal series signaled a changing of the guard and is probably the most historically significant event in the cup’s history until the juniors took over control of the mug. It saw the game’s first dynasty coming to an end with a brand-new one at the opposite end of the country ready to take its place. The victory for the Royal City was notable for two other important reasons: the New Westminster Salmonbellies were the last bonafide amateur team to challenge and win the professional trophy as well as the first club from the Pacific Coast to pry the silver mug from the hands of the Easterners.

The trophy then traveled out west on the Canadian Pacific Railroad with the Salmonbellies players and management – where it would remain entrenched on the Pacific Coast for the next 30 years. In the autumn of that year, New Westminster defended its new championship by winning all three games in a three-game, total-goals series 24-16 against the visiting Ottawa Capitals.

In defeating the professionals of the East, the amateur status of the Salmonbellies was now permanently tainted and revoked, like some irreversible mark of Cain staining both the team and its players forever. Because of this amateur vs. pro status conflict, a very serious and contentious issue in early twentieth-century athletics, the win by New Westminster also helped lay the groundwork for the start of professional lacrosse in British Columbia in 1909 when the British Columbia Amateur Lacrosse Association dropped the “Amateur” from its name and transformed into a professional organisation – albeit a league consisting of just two teams.

The actual game-ball from the 1908 Minto Cup series between New Westminster Salmonbellies and the Montréal Shamrocks.
The actual game-ball from the 1908 Minto Cup series between New Westminster Salmonbellies and the Montréal Shamrocks.

Once the professionals had firmly secured their control over the Minto Cup, a new gold trophy called the Mann Cup was then donated in 1910 as a replacement trophy for the senior amateurs to battle over. Until the death of the professional game, the Minto Cup was regarded as the more senior and prestigious trophy – with the Mann Cup taking over that position and honour in the mid-1920s.

Saskatchewan then made a run for the Minto Cup when the Regina Capitals splashed the cash and loaded up heavy on some serious Eastern talent in their bid for the cup. However even with such legends of the game as Alban ‘Bun’ Clark, Johnny Howard, Édouard ‘Newsy’ Lalonde, Art Warwick, Harry ‘Sport’ Murton, Angus ‘Bones’ Allen, and Tommy Gorman on their roster, the Capitals were still no match for the Salmonbellies. Regina lost the first game 6-4 before getting trounced 12-2 in the second game of the series.

While the challenge may not have hit paydirt for the Regina Capitals, it did pay off well for some of their players’ wallets as Clark, Howard, Lalonde, and Allen were then picked up by Con Jones for his Vancouver Lacrosse Club. Eventually Clark and Howard would move on and join up with the rival Salmonbellies, but all four of these household names would nevertheless become fixtures in the Coast game.

New Westminster Salmonbellies would face three more challenges from Ontario during the next two years, taking down the Toronto Tecumsehs, Montréal Amateur Athletic Association, and Montréal Nationals all in succession without conceding a single loss in the six matches played. Neither of the Montréal teams offered much of a challenge but Toronto Tecumsehs kept the Salmonbellies honest by playing to within 4 goals of taking home the silver mug. This period saw the height of New Westminster dominance on the field, and in a poll of Canadian sports writers carried out in 1951, they voted the 1909 and 1910 New Westminster Salmonbellies team the second greatest team in history. The Montréal Shamrocks who preceded them took the top-spot honours as the greatest team.

The Minto Cup as it appeared in the Victoria Daily Colonist in July 1913.
The Minto Cup as it appeared in the Victoria Daily Colonist in July 1913.

When New Westminster finally did lose the cup, it was to their rivals in Vancouver in 1911. In the greatest season ever seen on the Pacific Coast, New Westminster and Vancouver finished tied in league play with 5 wins apiece. A two-game, total-goals playoff series was then required to break the tie and determine who claimed the Minto Cup. It was finally Vancouver’s year to be crowned Minto Cup champions as they downed the Salmonbellies 4-3 and then 6-2 to lay their hands on the cherished trophy for the first time. Vancouver Lacrosse Club then successfully defeated another challenge attempt by the Toronto Tecumsehs, winning their first game 5-0 but dropping the second match 3-2 to the ‘Indians’.

New Westminster regained the Minto Cup in 1912 after defeating the Vancouver Lacrosse Club in league play. Later that same season, in what would prove to be the last East-West series for the Minto Cup until the junior game, New Westminster Salmonbellies defeated Cornwall Colts handily in their two-game, total-goals series by an aggregate score of 31-13. It was the last national series played by the professionals and it would be another quarter-century before Ontario would compete for the trophy again.

The last challenge series came the following year when the New Westminster Salmonbellies faced the Mann Cup champions, the Vancouver Athletic Club, in a two-game, total-goals series for the trophy. The Athletics had won the Mann Cup back in 1911 and now wanted a new challenge by making the jump to the professional game. It would be the only time in Canadian lacrosse history when the Mann Cup champions faced the Minto Cup champions head-to-head – with the silverware, in this instance, on the line. Despite being the national senior champions, the Athletics were no match for the seasoned professionals and lost their first game 9-1. The second leg saw a closer result but still not enough for Vancouver to dig themselves out of the hole. New Westminster retained the cup when they took the series 14 goals to 4.

From this point onwards, competition for the Minto Cup remained entrenched in British Columbia between New Westminster Salmonbellies and the Vancouver professional teams.

The First World War put a temporary hold over lacrosse in British Columbia for the duration of the war, as playing sports was viewed by many to be unpatriotic when one’s activities were better served focused on the war effort. By the time the professional game was revived in British Columbia, it was on its last, dying legs in Ontario. The teams there had neither the will nor the means to challenge for the Minto Cup.

Salmonbellies and the Minto Cup, September 1921
Salmonbellies and the Minto Cup, September 1921

In 1918 there was controversy surrounding the awarding of the cup. The Mainland Lacrosse Association had been formed that year with New Westminster and Vancouver as a pro league replacement to the then-inactive British Columbia Lacrosse Association. However a year later at the BCLA Annual Meetings held on May 8 and 15, 1919, the Minto Cup Trustees and British Columbia Lacrosse Association refused to recognise the results of the Mainland Lacrosse Association series as being official. Vancouver had won the eight-game series but would not be awarded the Minto Cup.

Vancouver claimed that they were in perfect order to organise a new league in lieu of the BCLA, which had suspended operations for the duration of World War One. New Westminster disagreed and claimed surreptitiously, somewhat well after the fact, that their club did not actually operate in 1918 despite the obvious. Out of disgust with the situation with New Westminster, Con Jones walked away from the pro game and turned his attention to supporting the amateurs. This was not the first time Jones had disagreements with the Salmonbellies and vice versa – and it wouldn’t be the last time either.

The professional game died in Eastern Canada on July 3, 1920; its demise in the East coming as no surprise for most observers of the game. For the remainder of the Minto Cup’s days as a professional trophy, league play in the British Columbia Lacrosse Association would determine the national champion. New Westminster Salmonbellies would dominate with five cup titles between 1919 and 1924 – with the Vancouver Terminals taking the trophy in 1920 in what was somewhat of an upset series, winning the three-game playoff series which was played even though New Westminster had won league play that year.

The last bastion of the professionals finally gave way when the game died more suddenly on the Pacific Coast, on June 2, 1924, when Con Jones once again walked away from the game, due to health issues.

This time, however, his departure was final.

The Minto Cup then went into cold storage as there were now no teams remaining in Canada, apart from the New Westminster professionals, who could now challenge and compete for it.

Charles A. ‘Charlie’ Welsh in 1911. He was the last trustee of the Minto Cup before it came into the possession of the Canadian Lacrosse Association in 1938.
Charles A. ‘Charlie’ Welsh in 1911. He was the last trustee of the Minto Cup before it came into the possession of the Canadian Lacrosse Association in 1938.

In 1929, there was some talk of offering it up for international competition. Cup trustee Charles A. ‘Charlie’ Welsh made an offer to the Canadian Lacrosse Association to turn the trophy over to them so it could be placed back into competition – this time as the world championship trophy. The plan never came to fruition, and instead the Lally Trophy would be inaugurated in 1931 for the amateur world champions, in the hopes the new trophy could somehow spark interest in the international game.

Finally, after twelve years of inactivity, the Canadian Lacrosse Association decided to revive competition for the Minto Cup – this time to be awarded to the national junior champions of Canada, starting in 1937. However, before the juniors were able to get their hands on the silver mug, one last chapter of drama was still left to play out: the trophy went missing when Charlie Welsh, the last remaining cup trustee, passed away suddenly on February 25, 1938.

While the Canadian Lacrosse Association had decreed the trophy for the national junior champion of Canada, at the time they actually did not have the legal authority to award the cup.

That was Charlie Welsh’s job as cup trustee, but he died before he would be able to officially rule that the Mimico Mountaineers were entitled to the silver mug when they won the series in 1938. Orillia Terriers had won the national championship the year before but had never actually been presented the cup except in name only. In December 1937, the Terriers received medals from the Canadian Lacrosse Association for their OLA junior championship, as the trophy was still residing out west in New Westminster with Welsh. Delivery of the Minto Cup had been promised for Orillia’s opening game of the 1938 season, but that never happened due to Welsh’s death.

The original Minto Cup trophy on display at the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame induction dinner in 2012.
The original Minto Cup trophy on display at the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame induction dinner in 2012.

Welsh’s successor, his wife, would have had the power to turn the cup over to the Canadian Lacrosse Association – if she hadn’t passed away herself just an hour after her husband. So a letter was drafted up and mailed off to Lord Minto in Scotland, the son of the original Lord Minto who had donated the cup, to ask him if he would deed the trophy over to the authority of the Canadian Lacrosse Association.

While the legal aspects were sorted out, another, more critical problem cropped up: where exactly was the cup? Charlie Welsh had never bothered to tell anyone where he had stored it. After a search lasting seven months it was eventually found, hidden away under a desk in his harbour commission office in the first week of October 1938.

However the legalities surrounding the grand old silver would not be settled until August 10, 1939. During an informal dinner held by the Canadian Lacrosse Association, the trophy deed was finally handed over in person by T.R. Selkirk, the estate administrator for Charlie Welsh, to J.A. McConaghy, president of the Canadian Lacrosse Association.

In August 1940, the cup was sent to Montréal for restoration work at a jewelry firm as the 39-year-old trophy began its new-found, second-wind with the junior game.

Minto Cup 1901-1924 champions

(PHOTO SOURCE: CLHFP006.60.1; stereoscope image courtesy of Todd Tobias collection;  New Westminster Columbian 1921 and 1909; X979.115.1 author’s photo; CVA #99-41; photo by author)

Tom Rennie

CVA Sp P91 Tom Rennie
There are not many good photographs existing for Tom Rennie. This one dates from 1910.

TOM RENNIE
(1883/84 – November 21, 1960)
New Westminster Salmonbellies (1903-1915)

Tom Rennie was born in Newcastle, New Brunswick. He moved to New Westminster with his family in 1889 by way of Seattle, Washington.

He played for Sapperton in the city intermediate league and went east with the Salmonbellies in 1901 as a spare. He was a reserve for the seniors in 1902 and joined the New Westminster Salmonbellies fulltime in the following year at the tender age of 19. Even before turning senior, Tom and his brother George were decent enough junior players that the Vancouver Daily World observed on October 4, 1901 that “the Rennie boys showed up much better than several of the older players” in New Westminster’s losing effort that day versus the Vancouver YMCA team.

Rennie started out at inside home but as the Montreal Gazette observed, this was “…a mistake as his position is farther out” in the midfield, and he played like a midfielder out of position as he moved the ball outside to work it around instead of driving at the net.

He missed six weeks of the season in 1910 when he ran into a hard body check by Johnny Howard and fractured his shoulder blade as a result. He then injured himself again during a practice in August after returning, missing yet several more weeks.

He moved to the United States in 1913 and worked as a lineman on large construction projects – leaving the Royal City on a bad note when striking electricians were replaced by outsiders. “Never again,” he exclaimed to the attendant media as he boarded the train south.

Tom Rennie played seven seasons during the professional era in New Westminster – scoring 13 goals during the course of 73 games. He generally played on the defensive side of the midfield, although in 1914 and parts of the 1909 and 1912 seasons he covered the role of the team’s centerman.  His career 38 penalties and 235 minutes placed him in the top-ten list for most penalised professional players on the Pacific Coast.

tom rennie 1912 game
Rare photograph of Tom Rennie in action during a 1912 game at Recreation Park.

He was discharged from the United States Army in August 1919 and took a train from Philadelphia back to New Westminster, sparking rumours he may be returning to the field for the Salmonbellies. He discounted such rumours in correspondence with his old home town, stating “I am one of the few who quit while they were still champions”.

He became seriously ill with smallpox in January 1924 while living in Los Angeles, but a month later he make a suitable enough recovery to be involved, along with his brother-in-law Gordon ‘Dode’ Sinclair, and such ex-Vancouver players as Jake Davis, Vernon Green (the central figure involved in the 1908 gunshot riot at Queens Park), and Charlie ‘Smiler’ McCuaig, with the introduction of the sport to Southern California.

Although a four-team league was planned, ultimately a two-team championship was played between the Long Beach and Los Angeles Canadian-Californian teams, with Tom Rennie as the referee.

He was residing in Southgate, California at the time of his father’s passing in early January 1941. Tom Rennie passed away in Seattle, his home for the last twenty years of his life, on November 21, 1960 after a long illness. He was survived by his wife Gertrude and his son Robert.

(PHOTO SOURCE: CVA Sp P91 excerpt; CVA 371-585 excerpt)

tom rennie stats

Eustace Gillanders

eustace gillanders 1922
Eustace Gillanders, May 1922.

EUSTACE DAWSON GILLANDERS
(August 4, 1893 – February 14, 1966)

Vancouver Athletic Club (1913-1915; 1919)
Vancouver Coughlan Shipyards AAA (1918)

Vancouver Terminals (1919-1920; 1921-1923)
Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1921)

Eustace Gillanders was part of the core, defensive line on the Vancouver Terminals consisting of Bay Carter, Everett McLaren, Harry ‘Fat’ Painter, goaltender Jake Davis, and Gillanders himself, all who had previously combined to form the back-half of the Vancouver Athletic Club amateur dynasty in the decade prior and had made the move to the professionals in the early 1920s.

Eustace Dawson Gillanders was born in 1893 in Sapperton, New Westminster. His parents were Wesley Clark Gillanders and Arabella Holmes of Chilliwack. His father was from near Peterbourough, Ontario and had moved west around 1873-1874 at the age of 18, settling in Chilliwack with his mother, brothers, and sisters, all who had accompanied him to British Columbia by way of San Francisco, California. There his father Wesley met Eustace’s mother Arabella, a schoolteacher. The young couple married and lived on their pre-emption which was located between Chilliwack and Rosedale. Then at some point prior to Eustace’s birth in 1893, his parents moved to New Westminster to care for Arabella’s aging parents. In 1910, the family moved again, this time to Vancouver.

Gillanders started playing lacrosse at the age of 11, with one newspaper article stating that he had moved to the West End of Vancouver at a very young age. The same article mentions that during one of his early attempts at the sport, he smashed a window and frightened several youths who had to scurry for cover. With roots in two lacrosse-playing communities, he played junior lacrosse for Sapperton and then played defensive point for the Vancouver Olympics in 1912 when he moved up to the intermediate ranks.

He turned senior in 1913 with the powerhouse Vancouver Athletic Club team during their Mann Cup dynasty run prior to the First World War – however he remained a senior and did not play when the Athletics challenged for the Minto Cup in 1913. His first season after the First World War saw him win another Mann Cup title in 1918 – this time with the Vancouver Coughlans Shipyards Amateur Athletic Association team who pushed aside the New Westminster Salmonbellies, North Vancouver Squamish Indians, and Winnipeg Argonauts on their run of 7 win and 2 ties.

On June 3, 1916 Eustace Gillanders married Gertrude Oglivie Marsh. They would have four children: Kenneth, Gordon, Marguerite, and an unnamed child who probably died at birth.

At the start of the 1919 campaign, he rejoined the Vancouver Athletic Club when the team reformed in the Pacific Coast Amateur Lacrosse Association after a three-year absence due to the war. Gillanders was elected team captain by his team-mates and was generally regarded as the best player on the roster. However, with VAC fielding a weak squad and suffering through poor results, Gillanders was convinced to turn professional around July 30, 1919 – a “bombshell” signing according to the Vancouver Province. The Vancouver Terminals had been in serious need of reinforcements for two to three weeks prior due to injuries and suspensions, and with newly-permitted substitutions now requiring more bodies to be carried by the team, the pro outfit had earlier tried to sign the Winged V star but to no avail.

Playing most of his professional career as a defensive midfielder in the first defence position, he made a great impact in Vancouver’s own end of the field, being dubbed a year later by the Terminals team manager Harry Pickering as the “find of the season”.

eustace gillanders 1923
Eustace Gillanders, 1923.

1921 would prove to be a career production year on the field for the first defenceman. He started the season by signing up with Con Jones’s rival Vancouver team in the upstart Pacific Coast Lacrosse Association. Never a serious goal-scoring threat around the net, it would be during the league’s fifth and final match on June 11 that he would bag his only career hat-trick. After scoring Vancouver’s second goal of the match to even the score line 2-2 at the end of the first half, Victoria Capitals then built up a 5-3 lead over the next two quarters. Heading into the final stanza, Vancouver had pulled to within 1 goal, when Eustace Gillanders scored a minute later to tie the game, and then the game-winning goal a minute after that for Vancouver’s 6-5 win. The league would fold two days later. Gillanders then re-joined his old Terminals team and score another 2 goals. In all, he had 7 goals to his name for the year – out of the 11 total he would score during his five-year professional career.

Around September 1922, he was sidelined due to a bad case of appendicitis and missed games late in the season.

Eustace Gillanders’s final season as a player took place in 1923. It is unknown why he did not return the following year but it may have been due to work. He left the professional game with 68 games, 11 goals, and a lone assist to his credit, along with 21 penalties totaling 102 minutes watching from the sin bin.

Three years later in 1926 he would be involved, either as the coach or the manager (or both), with the Ocean Falls Amateur Athletic Association lacrosse team. Gillanders was a working resident of the company town, the site of the largest pulp and paper mill in British Columbia. That year saw a large contingent of former New Westminster lacrosse players gain employment there, so a lacrosse team was organised. It is unknown if the Ocean Falls AAA team played any league games, but they challenged the Richmond Farmers, champions of the Vancouver & District League, for the Kilmarnock Cup, the senior provincial championship trophy of British Columbia. The first game of the two-game total-goals series ended in a 6-6 draw, followed by a close 3-2 win for Ocean Falls. They then moved on to the Western Canada finals, where Ocean Falls won their first game over the Winnipeg Tammany Tigers 6-5 but then lost the second game 8-6 – missing out moving on to the Mann Cup finals by 1 goal, 13-12.

Eustace Gillanders passed away at home in “North Surrey, Delta” (according to his death certificate), his place of residence for the last two years of his life. His house was located at 11946 – 80th Avenue, which is now the site of a commercial office building in the Kennedy Heights area along the Surrey-North Delta border. He had worked as a pipe fitter, for 35 years, retiring the year prior to his passing. Gillanders was cremated with a memorial at Ocean View Cemetery in Burnaby, British Columbia.

(PHOTO SOURCE: Vancouver Sun May 21, 1922; Vancouver Province April 7, 1923)

Jake Davis

Jake Davis with the Victoria Foundation club in 1919.

JAKE DAVIS
(born ca.1893 – May 1981)

Vancouver East End (1909-1911)
Vancouver Athletic Club (1912-1914)
Victoria Foundation Club (1919)
Vancouver Terminals (1920; 1921-1923)
Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1921)

Jake Davis was born in Toronto but moved to Vancouver when he was just a tiny child. He played junior lacrosse for two years with the East End club before turning senior with the Vancouver Athletic Club in 1912.

The Athletics had won their Mann Cup challenge the year before when they defeated cup holders Young Torontos in a two-game, total goal series 9-3. The young rookie Jake Davis soon found himself part of the new senior amateur dynasty team taking root in Vancouver, defending their hold over the cup against all challenges in 1912 and 1913 – and gaining a reputation as an outstanding, young lacrosse goalkeeper. His older brother Bill Davis also played for the Vancouver Athletic Club, up front as a midfielder, during their Mann Cup years.

In the 1914, the core group of VAC players felt there was nothing else to achieve by remaining in the senior amateur game, so the team joined the professional ranks in the British Columbia Lacrosse Association league with their desire to step up to the next challenge and wrestle the Minto Cup away from the New Westminster Salmonbellies. However, the club refused to let Jake Davis turn pro as they still wanted to defend the Mann Cup and required his services in goal. During the defense of their Mann Cup challenges that year, he played with cracked ribs – tearing off bandages during a game when they began to interfere and hinder his play.

Mann Cup play that year would become bogged down by disputes. The Athletics had defeated the Calgary Chinooks and Brampton Excelsiors in challenge matches but then the Mann Cup trustees disputed the status of one of the Vancouver players in the series versus Brampton.

Despite the views of British Columbia lacrosse, national lacrosse and amateur athletic organisations that supported Vancouver’s position, the trustees instead awarded the cup to the Calgary Chinooks on September 29, 1914. Vancouver however held on to the gold trophy and refused to turn it over to either the trustees or the Chinooks. Finally, resolution to the issue came on December 7, 1914, when the Canadian Amateur Lacrosse Association overruled Mann Cup trustee Joseph Lally and awarded the cup to the Vancouver Athletic Club.

Jake Davis married at a young age around 1913 and the couple would later have four sons. As well as lacrosse, he also played soccer and ice hockey, both in goal, and was a shortstop in baseball.

Formal portrait taken in 1913 for Vancouver Athletic Club photo-montage.

The Great War would put a hold over Jake Davis’s lacrosse career, although he did participate in some of the patriotic charity fund-raising matches organised during the war years.

When formal play resumed in 1918, Davis joined the Vancouver Coughlans Shipyards team in the Vancouver Amateur Lacrosse Association. After besting the cup-holders New Westminster Salmonbellies in league play and defeating the North Vancouver Squamish Indians 6-4 in a single-game playoff, the Coughlans then won (or retained) the Mann Cup by defeating the Winnipeg Argonauts.

The following year he joined the Foundation Lacrosse Club founded by ‘Cotton’ Brynjolfson in April 1919 to represent the Victoria Shipyards – and Davis would add his final Mann Cup crown, won with his third team, to his name that season.

1920 saw Jake Davis finally turn professional and sign with the Vancouver Terminals, in the process pushing out veteran keeper Dave Gibbons in what could be viewed as a changing of the guard. Unlike their Salmonbellies rivals, the various Vancouver teams did not boast the same numerical depth of local trained talent in goal. In lieu of Eastern imports, Gibbons and Davis were by far the best goaltenders to come up through the ranks of Vancouver organisations for the first-quarter of the 20th century – and Gibbons’s best years were now behind him when Jake made the step up to the pro game in 1920.

When Con Jones started up the rival Pacific Coast Lacrosse Association, he recruited Jake Davis for his Vancouver Lacrosse Club. When the second league folded a few weeks into its season, Davis then jumped back to his former Terminals club – and for a second time, pushed out Dave Gibbons from the starting spot between the pipes.

During the 1922 season he missed some games from an abdomen injury when he was butt-ended by a stick on the sly during a game versus New Westminster. The following year Jake Davis went “South” in August 1923 and quit the Vancouver Terminals in mid-season, moving to California along with his father and becoming a carpenter there.

The relocation became permanent in 1930 when he was hired by Mobil Oil. He worked for the oil company for 31 years and retried as the plant yard foreman in 1961. He lived in Berkeley until retirement and then moved to Richmond Heights a year later. At the time of his hall of fame induction in 1977 he was residing in Long Beach, California.

In November 1946, Davis wrote to the Vancouver Sun asking for contact information for ‘Newsy’ Lalonde as well as for any lacrosse films available to show in California. He also wrote a letter to the Victoria Colonist newspaper in October 1969, asking “to find out if any of the [Foundation] boys are still living”. Otherwise, he had disappeared off the radar of the old lacrosse fans and the press, so much so it was not even known if he were still alive or not by the time he finally returned to Vancouver around 1973-74, visiting the city for the first time since moving to California in the 1930s. His arrival and subsequent meeting with one of the local sports reporters sparked the move to get him finally inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1977 – although with hindsight and the benefit of research, it appears his legacy and his legend had become misreported, blurred, and more so, embellished over time.

Eight straight Canadian championship teams between 1912-1920”, as reported in the Vancouver Sun in 1977 at the time of his induction, is a falsehood, along with the claims of “seven Mann Cup winning teams” and “first Minto Cup shutout in 1912”.

Jake Davis with the Vancouver Athletic Club in 1912.

So much emphasis was placed in 1977 on this lone shutout that he was even bestowed the nickname “Mr. Zero”. This moniker is completely unwarranted. While shutouts were rare during the professional field era, they were not unique nor unheard of – with 8 shutouts occurring in professional play on the Pacific Coast: 2 each by Alban ‘Bun’ Clark, Alex ‘Sandy’ Gray, and Bernie Feedham, and one each by Dave Gibbons and Jake Davis (in 1923 – not 1912). It seems, however, with the benefit of time, the passing of observers, and the complete lack of statistical information in 1977, Jake Davis became the only goalkeeper who was remembered by such a performance and his career subsequently became memorialised by it.

When examining his championship wins, there is much more factual truth there. In the challenge era for the Mann Cup and Minto Cups, it can be quite difficult to determine and tabulate totals as some seasons did see multiple challengers as well as league play also factoring who the cup holders were. Jake Davis won, retained, or defended the Mann Cup during league play over the course of five seasons, to which can be added another six successful challenge victories. However, in 1915 the Athletic Club dynasty was finally broken when the Mann Cup was won by New Westminster. This and the two-year gap on account of the war broke the so-called succession of straight championships. His lone Minto Cup championship came in 1920, his last hurrah on a championship team. Despite the grand claim of “eight straight Canadian championship teams between 1912-1920”, his six years of championship seasons in less than a decade is nevertheless impressive.

Compared with other goaltenders from the professional era on the Coast, Davis would be ranked third for most career wins (27), tied fifth for career winning percentage (.500), and sixth for career goals against average (5.00) – with some of those placements ahead of him held by a few emergency players having to go in goal in one-off starts. At the professional level, he was certainly a very capable and reliable goalkeeper but nowhere near the outstanding figure that later press (or the hall of fame press) made him out to be – although to be fair, his performance during his senior years spent with the Vancouver Athletic Club seems to be by what he was remembered most for, and it can be argued that he was probably the best amateur keeper on the Pacific Coast in the 1910s. Over time, aged minds likely blurred his full career and results all together.

Just for the record: his ‘famous’ shutout occurred on June 9, 1923 in a 2-0 decision at Queens Park, coming two weeks after New Westminster goalkeeper Bernie Feedham himself had blanked the Terminals 1-0.

(PHOTO SOURCES: Victoria Colonist October 29, 1969; CLHOF X979.190.1 excerpt; CVA 99-1019 excerpt)

Gordon ‘Dode’ Sinclair

‘Dode’ Sinclair as a pro Salmonbellies player in 1922.

VICTOR GORDON ‘DODE’ SINCLAIR
(July 18, 1898 – June 22, 1958)

New Westminster Salmonbellies (1920; 1922)
Long Beach (1924)

Victor Gordon Sinclair – better known in New Westminster sporting circles by his nickname ‘Dode’ Sinclair – was born on Mayne Island, British Columbia in 1898. His parents were James William Sinclair and Annie Isabel Irving. His father was born in Washington Territory and had moved to New Westminster in 1875, becoming a teacher in the Fraser Valley school district for twenty-five years, then later employed on steamboats and finally the British Columbia Electric Railway as an accountant.

Young Gordon moved to New Westminster at a very early age and in his youth he played on the John Robson Elementary School lacrosse team in 1913. Along with lacrosse, he was also known in the Royal City as an amateur basketball and football player.

His older brother was Irving Sinclair [1893-1969], who became famous as one of San Francisco’s best-known commercial artists from the mid-1920s into the 1960s. ‘Dode’ also had five sisters, two of whom ended up marrying the brothers George and Tom Rennie, of New Westminster Salmonbellies fame from a decade or so prior. When Sinclair joined the professional Salmonbellies in 1920, he found himself team-mates with his brother-in-law George in what was Dode’s rookie season as a professional while Rennie making his final curtain-call in a 20-year career.

‘Dode’ served in the Canadian military during the Great War, and in October 1917 Private Sinclair was awarded the Military Medal for gallant conduct as a battalion runner on the front lines with the 47th Battalion. He had been serving at the front lines for several months and during combat near Lens in France, his company had come under fire and every sergeant was killed in the fighting, with the sergeant-major and two officers wounded and put out of action. Sinclair and one other soldier were the only remaining runners after four other runners had either been killed, wounded by snipers, or incapacitated by shell shock. Along with the medal and ribbon, he received a letter of commendation from the company’s brigadier general.

Sinclair signed with the professional New Westminster outfit in July 1920 and it immediately caused a major rift with the Royal City amateurs, as the pros had been raiding the amateur side that year for new blood. George Feeney and Harold ‘Haddie’ Stoddart had already been scooped by Manager Tom Gifford – and when Sinclair then backpedaled his commitment to the amateurs and jumped to the pros, the fortunes of the amateur Salmonbellies in their pursuit of the Mann Cup were put in some serious doubt. At the time of his departure from the amateur squad, Sinclair had been tied second on the goal-scoring list for the Pacific Coast Amateur Lacrosse Association, and second-place for his team.

The war hero ‘Dode’ Sinclair in 1917.

He missed out the 1921 season when he found himself stuck in Australia due to a shipping strike which prevented him finding passage back home. Sinclair returned for the 1922 season but did not seem to have the impact or promise he had shown in 1920. His short professional career of two seasons spanned 25 games and he chalked up 3 goals to his name, from playing in almost all matches as a substitute and a half-dozen starts.

Sinclair left New Westminster in 1923 and began working in California when he gained employment sinking oil wells for Standard Oil and this proved more profitable than what his lacrosse career could ever provide. The following year or so he owned and operated an appliance store in Los Angeles. Then around 1942 he made a career change once more and became an orchard farmer, running an orange grove in Los Angeles County prior to acquiring his own grove, a year prior to his death, in the city of Exeter in Tulare County.

Despite departing the lacrosse hot-bed of British Columbia for greener pastures down south, he never forgot his old love for the game. In 1924, along with his brother-in-law Tom Rennie and ex-Vancouver pro Charlie ‘Smiler’ McCuaig, they helped introduce lacrosse in the Long Beach area and a 1924 lacrosse championship was played between Long Beach and Los Angeles Canadian-Californian teams. In 1938 when the Pacific Coast Lacrosse Association started play in Southern California and raided the Canadian box leagues for players, ‘Dode’ Sinclair became the manager for the Los Angeles Canucks entry in the four-team league, which was made up of star-players from the New Westminster Adanacs and a sprinkling of Richmond Farmers and Vancouver Burrards talent. The PCLA lasted around a month before it folded in mid-season after games on January 29, 1939 due to poor arena conditions.

Victor Gordon Sinclair passed away on June 22, 1958 at his home located southeast of Exeter, California. He was survived by his wife Edna but there is no mention of any surviving children in his obituaries. While long-forgotten today as one of the many obscure, fringe players who have come and gone throughout the sport’s history, ‘Dode’ Sinclair’s short career is proof enough that all players great and not-so-great, superstar or bench-warming substitute, all have stories to tell from their lives lived.

(PHOTO SOURCES: Vancouver Province October 16, 1917; Vancouver Sun April 11, 1922)

Bay Carter

Bay Carter with the Vancouver Terminals, 1923

BAYARD (BAY) MARSHALL CARTER
(1895 – October 26, 1974)

Vancouver Athletic Club (1914-1915; 1919)
Vancouver Terminals (1920; 1921-1924)
Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1921)

Bay Carter was part of a core group of local-bred players that included Everett McLaren, Harry ‘Fat’ Painter, and Eustace Gillanders who fortified the Vancouver Terminals defense during their post-war campaigns of the 1920s.

Bayard – known by all as ‘Bay’ – was the son of Emily Lavina Carter (née Barr), who later married Andrew Grieve Waddell, the chief of police of Steveston between 1914 and 1918 and the first chief of police in Richmond. Young Bay would have been around five years-old at the time of his mother’s second marriage on April 19, 1900, which was reported in the press as far away as Owen Sound, Ontario, near where his new step-father originated from. His mother was born in London, England and she was recorded as a 30-year-old widow on their marriage certificate. Waddell’s obituary from 1931 mentions two stepsons, which would have been Bay and his younger brother Stan.

Carter attended the same high school as the Painter brothers with whom he later played alongside on the Vancouver Terminals in the 1920s. Both Bay Carter and ‘Fat’ Painter were also members of the Vancouver Athletic Club senior lacrosse team although they never played in the same season with each other – as ‘Fat’ had moved up to the professional ranks in 1914 when Bay joined the senior amateur team as a much-needed replacement to help fill all the departures of its players to the professional league. Out of around 30 players trying out for the team, Carter was one of those named to the roster on May 13, 1914 and he soon established himself as a crack defender.

A young Bay Carter as a rookie with the Vancouver Athletic Club in 1914.

When the First World War intervened, Bay Carter served overseas in the military for three to four years – first in the Canadian field artillery with the 46th Battery from Kingston, Ontario and the later as a Royal Air Force pilot. He received his officer’s commission as a lieutenant in 1917. He returned home to Vancouver on July 16, 1919.

He landed work as a mining engineer at Britannia Mines. He then graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1921 with a Bachelor of Science, all the while playing professional lacrosse to pay for his education.

With the Vancouver Terminals, his usual position on the playing field was at first defence and second defence, although when needed he could slot in anywhere from point up through the defensive ranks to centreman. The year after Bay had turned pro and signed with the Terminals, his kid brother Stan Carter also signed with the team and filled the role of substitute.

In one match at Queens Park, on June 24, 1922, Bay had to come to the rescue when his brother was embroiled in a fight with ‘Haddie’ Stoddart of the Salmonbellies, which then quickly exploded into a free-for-all brawl which saw benchwarmers and spectators from the stands spill out on the field to settle old and new scores. It took ten minutes for police and firemen to break up the fight, only for it to erupt again a few seconds later. When the riot finally ended and the dust had settled, and not before old Archie Macnaughton had walloped Pat Feeney in the head with his cane, it was found that most of Vancouver’s equipment – sticks, gloves, and caps – littered about on the ground …had now disappeared! – pilfered by New Westminster youngsters who had run off with anything that had been left laying about during the ensuing chaos.

Once his professional lacrosse days were over, Bay Carter would then find employment embarking on a 36-year career in marketing and advertising. He found this line of work the perfect calling for him, as his imposing six-foot-two frame gave him a deliberate manner of appearance while his mind was full of imagination.

Carter worked for the Vancouver Daily World newspaper for two years, later moving to Farm & Home for eight years. Then the Vancouver Province newspaper became his final employer from January 1931 until his retirement as their advertising director in January 1959. During his years with the Province, he was promoted to assistant advertising manager in 1936, advertising manager in 1941, and director in 1947. When he retired from the newspaper, he was bid adieu with send-off articles printed in both his former employer’s pages as well as those of the crosstown rival Vancouver Sun.

His residence at the time of his retirement was a house located at 6069 Oak Street in Vancouver.

Bayard Carter passed away in 1974. He was survived by his two daughters, Shirley Miller and Nancy Baird, and five grandchildren; his wife Hilda had predeceased him in 1972.

(PHOTO SOURCES: Vancouver Province April 7, 1923; Vancouver Sun September 16, 1914)

Aaron ‘Bunt’ Watson

May 1921 press photograph of Aaron ‘Bunt’ Watson with the Vancouver Terminals.

AARON W. ‘BUNT’ WATSON
(1896~98 – October 1, 1929)

Vancouver Terminals (1921-1922)

Although Aaron Watson’s nickname was actually ‘Bunt’, the Vancouver newspapers mistakenly referred to him as ‘Bun’ – and so ‘Bun’ was what ‘Bunt’ Watson was generally called while he played on the Coast. Aaron Watson was a product of Cornwall, Ontario and had played for the Cornwall Colts starting from 1916 onward, quickly regarded in his rookie season as the best home (midfield) man to come from the Factory City.

Heading into the 1921 campaign, the Vancouver Terminals were plagued with a divisive contract dispute between the players and management. A large majority of the Terminals players bolted the club to sign with Con Jones’s brand-new, rival Vancouver Lacrosse Club in his newly-founded Pacific Coast Lacrosse Association, leaving the remaining Terminals organisation in the lurch and scrambling on short notice to find replacement bodies. ‘Newsy’ Lalonde came to the rescue when he recruited eight Easterners to make the trip across the country to sign with the Terminals and play alongside him, with Aaron ‘Bunt’ Watson proving to be one of the best components of that mixed-bag contingent.

Of those Easterners brought west by Lalonde in 1921, Watson was by far at the top of the list whom the Terminals were eager to re-sign the following season. Despite playing just two seasons for Vancouver, his 23 goals in just 34 games places him at an impressive 20th for career goal-scoring totals during the professional lacrosse era on the Pacific Coast. He finished fourth in scoring for the Terminals in 1921 and second in 1922.

‘Bunt’ was also noted for his speed and toughness, so much so the Salmonbellies had to pay special attention in specifically assigning defenders on him.  What Watson may have lacked in stick skills and brilliance, he made up with shooting power and more so his physical prowess to bull and smash his way through the New Westminster defensive line. Bill Patchell was particularly effective in shadowing and shutting down ‘Bunt’, although Waston did gain instant credibility and respect as one of Vancouver’s toughest players when he laid out the Salmonbellies’ heavyweight enforcer Dave ‘Buck’ Marshall during his debut season with the Terminals. The pair would have multiple scraps throughout the season, one of which spilled into the stands and entangled spectators from both camps of supporters. After breaking up the two combatants and shooing them off for an early shower, Fred ‘Mickey’ Ion’s bloodied shirt from the fracas made the referee look like he had just worked a shift in an abattoir.

During his time in Vancouver, Watson would sometimes referee amateur PCALA senior league games.

Watson was expected to return for a third season with the Vancouver Terminals and was reported in early May 1923 to have agreed to a deal and would be making his way west from his recreational residence in Massena, New York, just across the border from his hometown of Cornwall. He was even contemplating a permanent move to Vancouver – but despite confirmation he was in transit west, he never showed up in Vancouver nor communicated his change in plans. It is very possible his father had some part in the decision and advised his son to remain home in the East – or he may have had a change of heart regarding Vancouver’s community payment method of split gate receipts. Whatever the reason, his hard-hitting physical absence was duly noted by observers and fans early that season.

He was married on November 28, 1916 to Anna Isabella Smith at the Methodist parsonage in Cornwall.

Watson was involved in a tragic, fatal accident on September 30, 1929 when the automobile he was driving along the state route heading to Ogdensburg, New York, failed to make a curve and struck a culvert. The automobile then leapt across a ditch, with the top of the vehicle coming apart and crashing into a tree. One male passenger was killed instantly while Watson suffered a fractured skull. ‘Bunt’ made it to Hepburn Hospital in Ogdensburg in critical condition but died from his injuries two days later. The two other men in his automobile survived and escaped with cuts and bruises.

Forty years later in 1969, Aaron ‘Bunt’ Watson was inducted to Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame in the Lacrosse category.

(PHOTO SOURCE: CVA 99-1018.23)

Everett McLaren

Everett McLaren with the Vancouver Athletic Club in 1913.
Everett McLaren with the Vancouver Athletic Club in 1913.

EVERETT JAMES McLAREN
(1893 – September 4, 1948)

Vancouver Athletic Club (1913)
Vancouver Athletics (1914)
Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1915; 1921)
Vancouver Terminals (1920; 1921-1924)

Everett McLaren played with various Vancouver professional squads for seven seasons.  Coming up through the ranks of the famed Vancouver Athletic Club, he was originally signed by Con Jones in 1915 to re-train and fill a more defensive role, although that experiment did not seem to stick and he slotted into the roster in his familiar centreman spot. Later in his career, rejoining the Terminals after his brief stint playing in Con Jones’s rival league in 1921, he did spend more time patrolling the defensive end of the midfield.

His speed and more so his fit physique made up for any lack of goal scoring, as Everett McLaren was the second-most penalised player during the professional era on the Pacific Coast with 57 infractions. His time spent in the sin bin clocked him with 283 minutes, placing him seventh in penalty minutes.

In the 1920s he saw himself named the captain of the Vancouver Terminals. During one game, on June 2, 1923, the Vancouver Daily Province noted that Everett McLaren was the first-ever player in the league fined $5 – for swearing at the referee, when he implied Referee Grumpy Spring was blind and then vocally protested a penalty, “you’re a blank blank!” The fine was a new rule initiated at the start of the 1923 season to help clean up play and ‘unseemingly conduct’. McLaren later went on record saying that in the future when he needed to do any impromptu speaking to the referee, he would not – and simply rely on tapping out his messages or finger wig-wagging gestures behind Referee Spring’s back.

Outside of his lacrosse career, very few details are known about Everett McLaren – one of the many Vancouver professional lacrosse players whose story has been sadly lost to history.

Pacific Coast Lacrosse Association action at Con Jones Park in 1921 as the Victoria Capitals and Vancouver Lacrosse Club battle it out. The player wearing #7 on the draw for Vancouver is believed to be Everett McLaren.

The Vancouver Daily World newspaper mentioned in a May 1915 edition that Everett McLaren, along with teammate Charlie McCuaig, were in Kansas City and on their way back to re-join the Vancouver team for the 1915 season – their business for being in Kansas City is completely unknown. The pair seemed to travel together for employment throughout the western United States although the nature of their work is unknown. In August 1915 the pair, along with Fred ‘Mickey’ Ion, their pugilistic team-mate and future NHL hall-of-fame referee, headed to Saskatchewan together to work as harvesters.

As a veteran of two world wars, McLaren was active in the Army, Navy, and Air Force Veterans Association and steward at the clubrooms located on Fraser Street in East Vancouver. Just prior to his passing, he had been busy working on securing a license to open a new veterans club in Marople.

The probable, unmarked resting place for Everett McLaren at Ocean View Cemetery in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Everett McLaren died suddenly on September 4, 1948, drowning in the Harrison River during a weekend fishing trip – his companion Joseph Francis also perishing on the river under unknown circumstances. He was well-known by local anglers, as McLaren had owned a cabin located on the Harrison River for 25 years. His body was found two miles from the mouth of river by one of his cabin neighbours. They were last seen alive heading up the river on a Sunday night, and their water-logged boat was found the following morning.

Obituary notices and newspapers reporting on his passing mention that he was survived by his wife Catherine along with a brother Robert, a local resident, and his sister Mrs. W.R. Strong, of Long Beach, California. No children are mentioned. He was buried five days later in an unmarked gravesite at Ocean View Cemetery in Burnaby, the final resting place for many of his contemporary team-mates from his playing days.

(PHOTO SOURCES: CVA 99-31 excerpt; CVA 99-1018.8; author’s photograph)

Canadian Lacrosse Almanac 2021 Edition

Click this link to view and download:
CANADIAN LACROSSE ALMANAC 1867-2021

First compiled in 2002 as a 102-page softcover book with a print-run of 200 copies, the Canadian Lacrosse Almanac was inspired by Jim Hendy and his pioneering work The Hockey Guide which first hit the shelves in 1933 and remained in yearly production until 1951.

The almanac’s initial focus was primarily on the statistical history of British Columbia lacrosse leagues – namely, annual league standings along with post-season play. It was the first publication to research and examine the pre-1932 era in British Columbia, which until that time had never been documented at any statistical level.

Over time, further research uncovered new data and new material was made available to the author. Cost and production issues made the author switch from a print format to releasing it in a PDF format – made available for free – when he completed a second edition in 2005. Annual digital copies have been released every year since 2007.

With the current 2021 edition now at 813 pages (with 84 more pages of new content compared to the 2020 edition), the almanac has expanded over the years to cover not only the Canadian lacrosse scene, but American NCAA collegiate, major and minor professional leagues, international competitions, and foreign domestic leagues where information is available.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic disrupting and cancelling play in leagues across Canada in 2020, the 2021 edition features updates from those lacrosse leagues in the United States of America and overseas that did manage to play partial or complete seasons – as well as a huge addition and expansion of European domestic league information which was uncovered during the past year.

Thanks as always for your interest in lacrosse history and continued support.

Patriotic Lacrosse during the Great War

Organised Lacrosse fell by the wayside in 1916 and suspended operations for the remainder of the First World War as the war effort took centre-stage attention. When club officials in New Westminster refused to field a team in 1916 and for the rest of the duration of the war, Con Jones continued to plan and recruit players in early April 1916 for a potential pro campaign involving two Vancouver clubs. However, a BCLA league meeting held on the evening of April 18, 1916 stopped those plans dead in their tracks when it was decided that “in the interest of the Empire’s fight, it would be better if professional lacrosse were suspended on the Pacific Coast until after the end of the war”.

In the absence of the pro and amateur leagues, 1916 would see a couple exhibition games arranged by old-timer teams for patriotic fund raising while 1917 would feature a five-game ‘patriotic lacrosse series’ between two squads called the Vancouver Patriotic Club and the Maple Leafs – featuring an unprecedented mix of professional and amateur players from Vancouver and New Westminster, with all profits going to charities associated with the war effort.

The initial old-timers’ match, played at Brockton Point on Dominion Day of 1916, was attended by 2,500 to 3,000 fans and raised $1700 for the Returned Soldiers Fund. In the following year, work was begun starting in January and through into the spring months to revive lacrosse.

At a formal meeting held on April 18, 1917, twenty-seven players from Vancouver and New Westminster decided to organise a patriotic lacrosse series with the entire profits to be contributed to patriotic charities. Many of the players who were married or otherwise unable to go overseas, nevertheless wanted to do their part in assisting in the war effort. Finances were handled by the British Columbia Amateur Athletic Union (BCAAU) due to one of the stipulations required to preserve the amateur status of the amateur players who would be playing alongside their professional brethren. Players were paid by means of a co-operative system with a portion of the gate receipts going to the Canadian Patriotic Fund.

In addition to the patriotism aspect, the series was used to keep public interest in the game with the post-war years in mind. Boys under the age of fourteen were admitted for free, in the hopes it would encourage future interest and participation in the sport. The rosters were somewhat fluid as players came and went. For the first three games, the teams were the Vancouver Patriotic Club and the Maple Leafs. In the fourth match, New Westminster featured in a combined Maple Leafs squad versus Vancouver.

Ernie Murray

Ernie Murray with the Vancouver Lacrosse Club, 1912.

ERNIE MURRAY
(born ca. 1887 – possibly December 23, 1967 ?)

Mount Pleasant Maple Leafs (ca.1907-1908)
Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1909-1910; 1912-1913)
North Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1911)
New Westminster Salmonbellies (1911; 1918)
Vancouver Athletics (1914)
Vancouver Terminals (1919-1920)
Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1921)

Inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1965 as a charter member in the field player category, Ernie Murray played 10 seasons of professional ball between 1909 and 1921.

Like many local home-brew Vancouver players from that era, no personal information is now known about him outside of the game. He played senior lacrosse in 1907 and 1908 for the Mount Pleasant Maple Leafs, alongside three of his four lacrosse-playing brothers. Con Jones would then sign “the speedy little home fielder” in 1909 for his Vancouver Lacrosse Club team when the professionals first became organised as a league under the British Columbia Lacrosse Association name that year.

In November 1907, he was suspended by the Canadian Amateur Athletic Union after travelling to California with the Vancouver Athletic Club rugby team for a match being played there versus McGill University. There appears to have been some protest made by McGill University regarding his playing status which would affect the collegians’ own playing status, so Murray chose instead to watch from the grandstands.

The majority of his lacrosse playing career was with the various Vancouver teams, although he did bolt to the New Westminster Salmobellies for the 1911 season after having a disagreement with the Vancouver Lacrosse Club president and money man, Con Jones.

Ernie Murray was one of a group of four local Vancouver players (along with goalkeeper Dave Gibbons, George Matheson, and ‘Toots’ Clarkson) who quit the team in early June 1910 after they went to Jones with demands for more money. With the Eastern imports that season earning $50 per week, the four upshots ‘held up Jones’ for more pay because they were only getting half that amount per week – but felt they were doing the lion’s share of the hard work while the imports reaped all the benefits.

Despite the hold-outs having a lot of sympathy from the local fans, Con Jones refused their demand of $40 per week. Along with Gibbons and Clarkson, Ernie Murray quit the team for the rest of the season while Matheson eventually caved in and re-joined the team in August. The following year, the cross-town rivals New Westminster Salmonbellies would approach Murray and sign him for one season – before seemingly making amends with Con Jones in time for the 1912 campaign and returning to the greenshirts.

When the Vancouver Lacrosse Club folded mid-season in July 1913, Ernie Murray found himself once again embroiled in a wage dispute with Con Jones. His November 1913 lawsuit filed against Jones was dismissed in county court after Murray tried to sue Jones for $650 which he alleged remained from a $1,000 contract. The judge ruled in Con Jones’s favour, as Jones stated he had promised $50 per week so long as play continued and had not guaranteed any contracts for 20 weeks of salary, as Murray claimed, due to uncertainly whether the 1913 season would be completed.

Ernie Murray would later get picked up by the replacement Vancouver Athletics in 1914. He would return to New Westminster in 1918 when ‘Grumpy’ Spring signed him to the Salmonbellies for the Mainland Lacrosse Association season.

Ernie Murray played in the midfield zone usually at third home or second home, occasionally slotted as the centreman. In 1920, he was primarily used in a substitute role, while the following season, his last as a player, he found himself moved up on the attack as the outside home, a position he had played back in his senior days with the Maple Leafs. His final season saw him in the role of player-manager for Vancouver in Con Jones’s rival Pacific Coast Lacrosse Association outfit. When that league folded in mid-season on June 13, 1921, after 5 games, Murray packed in his playing career.

He appeared in 69 professional games, scoring 31 goals – which places him 17th in career scoring for players during the pro field era.

(PHOTO SOURCE: CVA 99-43)

ernie murray stats