Monthly Archives: September 2013

Bill Patchell

Bill Patchell
Bill Patchell

(March 16, 1891 – June 4, 1930)

New Westminster Salmonbellies (1921-1924)

A deep defensive player who played the point and coverpoint positions around his own goal, William ‘Bill’ Patchell turned pro late in the 1921 season with the New Westminster Salmonbellies. In 26 games played across four seasons between 1921 and 1924, he bagged 2 goals and committed 12 penalties for 37 minutes. In his debut season, he won accolades and respect for his weighty body-checks and use of the lumber.

In 1928, he accompanied the Canadian Olympic team to Amsterdam to participate in the lacrosse demonstration – although he only played in the exhibition matches played en route through Eastern Canada and later in the Netherlands, as his former professional status prevented him from participating in the actual Olympic demonstration matches. Just prior to departure across the Atlantic, Gordon ‘Grumpy’ Spring had to turn back for home due to business matters and Bill Patchell took over the coaching reigns.

Bill Patchell at the 1928 Olympics
Bill Patchell at the 1928 Olympics

A native of the Sapperton neighbourhood in New Westminster, Patchell worked for the Brunette Lumber Company – officially as their sales manager, although he was practically the superintendent of the sawmill operations. Outside of lacrosse, he was known to be a keen boxing enthusiast and refereed matches.

Bill Patchell sadly succumbed to an early death at just 39 years of age. In apparent good health, he had suddenly fallen ill and was admitted to Royal Columbian Hospital. A week later and recovering from a bout of pneumonia, his doctors then advised that he needed an operation for appendicitis and should return. The operation was unsuccessful – one newspaper report stated that Patchell had returned to Royal Columbian too ill on arrival for surgery. He passed away overnight just after three o’clock in the morning.

In 2012, the 1928 Olympic team that Bill Patchell helped coach was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Bill Patchell’s stick on display at the old Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame museum
Bill Patchell’s stick on display at the old Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame museum

bill patchell stats

(PHOTO SOURCES: CLHOF X994.113; X994.16; CLHOF collection)

George Matheson

George Matheson
George Matheson

(February 28, 1879 – September 23, 1961)

Vancouver Lacrosse Club (ca.1899-1913)
Vancouver Athletic Club (1913)
Vancouver Athletics (1914)
Vancouver Greenshirts (1918)

Born in Summerside on Prince Edward Island, George Matheson moved to Vancouver at a young age and was one of the lacrosse-playing Matheson brothers who learnt their trade at the Cambie Street recreational ground under the watchful eye of Al Larwell.

By the time he retired as a player in October 1918 at the age of 39, he had 21 years of the game under his belt – during which he learnt to play every position. Starting out as a goalkeeper when he was young, he moved to the defence for a couple of years before he developed into a solid, defensive-minded midfielder and became regarded as one of the best players developed on the Pacific Coast as well as one of the fastest.

Vancouver Lacrosse Club and Toronto Tecumsehs face off in Minto Cup action at Recreation Park in the autumn of 1911. The player wearing #7 is most likely Vancouver centreman George Matheson while his Tecumseh counterpart on the face-off draw is most likely Felker or Rountree.
Vancouver Lacrosse Club and Toronto Tecumsehs face off in Minto Cup action at Recreation Park in the autumn of 1911. The player wearing #7 taking the draw is most likely Vancouver centreman George Matheson.

Matheson played 7 seasons as a pro with the Vancouver clubs between 1909 and 1914 followed by a comeback season of sorts in 1918 with Vancouver Greenshirts of the Mainland Lacrosse Association.

During the 1910 season, George Matheson was one of a group of four local players (along with goalkeeper Dave Gibbons, Ernie Murray, and ‘Toots’ Clarkson) who quit the team in early June after they went to Con Jones with demands for more money. Eastern imports Johnny Howard, ‘Bones’ Allen, Harry Griffith, and Harry Pickering were all rumoured to be receiving $50 per week while 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, Jones refused their demand of $40 per week. Gibbons, Murray, and Clarkson then bolted the team for the rest of the season while Matheson eventually re-joined the team in August. Ernie Murray would sign with cross-town rivals New Westminster in 1911.

George Matheson, 1912
George Matheson, 1912

In mid-June 1913, out of frustration and disgust with how poorly his team was performing, Con Jones released Matheson from the Vancouver Lacrosse Club roster along with veteran team-mate Archie Adamson. The change wouldn’t help Jones, as one month later the league had run aground and suspended operations due to unresolved scheduling disputes. In an ironic twist, George Matheson would then find himself playing for the Vancouver Athletic Club when they challenged New Westminster for the Minto Cup in the autumn of that year.

George won two Minto Cups, in 1911 and 1918 – although the 1918 championship for Vancouver was quickly declared null and void the following season when New Westminster claimed surreptitiously and after the fact that their club did not actually compete in 1918, after losing the eight-game series.

george matheson whistle
George Matheson used this whistle while refereeing games in the 1920s.

By the time he started playing in the pro game, Matheson was a home (offensive) midfielder, then moved to centreman in 1911, and then back to a more defensive position on the midfield midway through the following season. Matheson played in 58 pro games and scored 15 goals. He was a remarkably clean defensive player for the time, with only 6 penalties and 25 PIM to his name.

After his retirement, he continued his association with the game as a referee – having experience with the whistle going as far back as 1905 when he would call intermediate games.

George Matheson passed away in 1961. Four years later, he was named as a charter inductee to the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1965.

george matheson stats

(PHOTO SOURCES: CLHOF X994.83; CVA 99-1128, CLHOF X979.145.1; CLHOF collection; CVA Sp P4.1)

George Matheson, 1899
George Matheson, 1899

Édouard ‘Newsy’ Lalonde

Édouard ‘Newsy’ Lalonde (ca. 1912) with Vancouver Lacrosse Club
Édouard ‘Newsy’ Lalonde (ca. 1912) with Vancouver Lacrosse Club

(October 31, 1887 – November 21, 1970)
Cornwall Colts (1905-1908)
Regina Capitals (1909)
Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1909; 1911-1913)
Montréal Nationals (1910; 1913-1917)
Vancouver Greenshirts (1918)
Ottawa Capitals (1918)
Leaside Braves (1918)
Vancouver Terminals (1920-1922; 1924)

Remembered by most people now for his legendary hockey career with the Montréal Canadiens, ‘Newsy’ Lalonde’s claim to sporting fame in British Columbia did not come from ice hockey – although he did play a season with the famed Vancouver Millionaires. Rather, he was regarded, quite simply, as the greatest lacrosse player of his era when he graced the British Columbia lacrosse scene with the Vancouver pro lacrosse clubs for nine seasons interspersed between 1909 and 1924.

An Easterner born in Cornwall, Édouard ‘Newsy’ Lalonde made his lacrosse debut, as a goalkeeper, in 1905 with the Cornwall Colts of the National Lacrosse Union.

His first season was fairly forgettable as Cornwall finished last in the five-team league with a record of 1 win and 7 losses, with ‘Newsy’ letting in 41 goals for a still-decent goals-against average of 5.66. The following season saw Cornwall move up to fourth-place in the expanded, seven-team league. Lalonde improved to 8 wins out of 14 matches, with 80 goals against and an average of 5.33 He finished in second-place in the league for wins by a goalkeeper.

Lalonde playing in goal for the Cornwall Colts, ca. 1905-1908
Lalonde playing in goal for the Cornwall Colts, ca. 1905-1908

In 1907, Cornwall inched up further in the standings, to third-place. ‘Newsy’ let in 63 goals (5.36 GAA) that season to slip down to third-place for winning record amongst goalkeeper, with 8 wins in 11 matches. His final season with Cornwall – and in goal – saw ‘Newsy’ finish in second-place, behind ‘Bun’ Clark of the Toronto Tecumsehs, with 7 wins and 4 losses. He let in 48 goals for a 4.39 goals-against average, the best average of his career and the best of any full-time goalkeeper playing in the National Lacrosse Union that season.

In all, Lalonde’s goalkeeping career saw him appear in a total of 44 matches on duty between the posts, with a win-loss record of 24-20. He had 232 goals scored against him for a fairly impressive 5.27 goals-against average.

While ‘Newsy’ Lalonde would earn his accolades and legendary fame after he left the crease and became a formidable goal-scoring threat, one still has to wonder: why didn’t he continue as a goalkeeper?

His ability in goal was as good as to any goalkeeper who played on the Pacific Coast. It is unknown what was the exact impetus that triggered ‘Newsy’ Lalonde to switch opposite ends and roles on the field, going from goalkeeper to inside home when he traveled westwards in 1909 – going from the one who stops the shooters and goals to becoming the primary shooter and goal-scorer on the team.

Whatever the reason was, as Ontario lacrosse historian Paul Whiteside stated in his own research work, the switch in positions had as revolutionary an impact in lacrosse as when Babe Ruth went from being a pitcher to a slugger in baseball some ten years later.

Lalonde appearing on a cigarette card from 1911.
Lalonde appearing on a cigarette card from 1911.

After coming west in 1909 as a hired-hand with the Regina Capitals to compete against the New Westminster Salmonbellies in their challenge for the Minto Cup, playing as a defenseman, Lalonde then decided to remain in British Columbia with the Vancouver Lacrosse Club for the 1909 season.

In 1911, Vancouver Lacrosse Club president Con Jones offered him a fortune of a contract rumoured in the range of $3,500 (or $72,000 to $87,500 in modern currency); this was more than double what he was earning with the Montréal Nationals the previous season. To compete against that perennial powerhouse squad of legends and hated rivals, New Westminster Salmonbellies, Con Jones went out and bought the best player in Canada that money could buy: ‘Newsy’ Lalonde.

‘Newsy’ would pay off Jones by helping lead Vancouver to three Minto Cup pro championships – in 1911, 1918, and 1920. He played what was back then called the inside home position – basically an attacking forward who played on the crease as the primary threat against the opposing goalkeeper – and his goal-scoring prowess was critically important to the success of his Vancouver team as Lalonde constantly went up against some of the finest New Westminster goalkeepers of the day, stalwarts such as Alex ‘Sandy’ Gray and then later the legendary Alban ‘Bun’ Clark.

‘Newsy’ Lalonde with Vancouver Terminals, 1920
`Newsy´ Lalonde with Vancouver Terminals, 1920

During his nine seasons spent playing for the Vancouver Lacrosse Club and Vancouver Terminals, ‘Newsy’ finished 10th in overall career games played (2nd with the Vancouver club) and 3rd overall in career goal-scoring with 147 goals in 93 games.

However, what is more impressive is in five of those nine seasons with Vancouver, he led the league in goal-scoring (and in 1911, also in penalties). During a ten-season period from 1910 through 1918, and regardless whether he was playing out west in the British Columbia Lacrosse Association with Vancouver or back east in the National Lacrosse Union or Dominion Lacrosse Union with the Montréal Nationals, Lalonde would lead the respective league for goals in all seasons but one.

In an era when lacrosse was notably rough and tumble and players wore no padding, all the while swinging wooden sticks, Lalonde was one never to back down from the toughness aspect of the game. His favourite tactic was to crowd his check and bull his way through opposition. Along with all his goals, the intensely competitive Lalonde also amassed 45 penalties and sat out more than any other player with 356 penalty minutes during his career on the West Coast.

In 1950, he was selected by a panel of Canadian sports journalists as the greatest lacrosse player of the first-half of the 20th century. He received an impressive 13 votes compared to his next two challengers, Billy Fitzgerald (6 votes) and Henry Hoobin (5 votes). Most notably, three current lacrosse inductees in the BC Sports Hall of Fame from the same playing era – Alex Turnbull, Cliff Spring, and John Crookall – only managed to received 1 vote (for Turnbull) amongst them. Interestingly enough, his nickname ‘Newsy’ came from his youth when he worked, first as a reporter and then later in the newspaper plant as a printer, for the Cornwall Freeholder and Woodstock Express.

As a fitting, final tribute to his career, Édouard ‘Newsy’ Lalonde was an obvious choice for the initial inductees to the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1965 in the ‘field player’ category.

(PHOTO SOURCES: City of Vancouver Archives CVA #371-574; Robert Lefebvre collection; public domain; CVA #99-994)

Alban ‘Bun’ Clark

A clash of titans, as diminutive goalkeeper ‘Bun’ Clark comes up for the save against Vancouver in 1912 - the player in white shorts leading the Greenshirts’ charge is Édouard ‘Newsy’ Lalonde, Canada’s greatest lacrosse player from 1900-1950.
A clash of titans, as diminutive goalkeeper ‘Bun’ Clark comes up for the save against Vancouver in 1912 – the player in white shorts leading the Greenshirts’ is Édouard ‘Newsy’ Lalonde, Canada’s greatest lacrosse player from 1900-1950.

(born June 5, 1883 – deceased)

Fergus Intermediates (1899-1904)
Toronto Tecumsehs (1905-1908)
Regina Capitals (1909)
Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1910-1911)
New Westminster Salmonbellies (1912-1915; 1918-1921)

For such a famous and well-regarded goalkeeper during the game’s height of popularity on the Pacific Coast, practically nothing is known about the man except some fleeting details.

Even the exact spelling of his name is somewhat of a mystery as he was universally referred by all as ‘Bun Clark’ or ‘Bun Clarke’. His given name, in the couple of instances when it appeared in the press of the day, was rendered either as Alban or Alvan – with Alban Clark assumed to be the correct spelling based on census information from 1901. Alban came from a large Scottish Presbyterian family; he was the fourth of eleven children of Forbes and Jane Clark.

An Easterner who hailed from Fergus in Wellington County, Ontario, ‘Bun’ Clark spent four seasons playing with the Toronto Tecumsehs in the Canada Lacrosse Association in 1905 and in the National Lacrosse Union from 1906 until 1908. In his three NLU seasons in goal for the ‘Indians’, he had 26 wins and 13 losses and finished in succession third, second, and first for wins in the NLU (information on his 1905 campaign in the CLA is unknown). Prior to joining the Tecumsehs, he played for his hometown team for six years and won the intermediate championship in 1902 and 1903.

‘Bun’ Clark with the Toronto Tecumsehs in 1907
‘Bun’ Clark with the Toronto Tecumsehs in 1907

In 1905, he went west with the Ottawa Capitals on their tour to British Columbia. The manager of the Capitals noted that his life on the farm while growing up in Fergus had become so ingrained in him that ‘Bun’ would go to bed at six o’clock and wake up at dawn. This farming background appears on his 1901 census where his occupation is listed as “eggpacker”.

During his tenure with the Tecumsehs, Clark was reported by the Ottawa Citizen newspaper to be “one of best” but his weakness was “an unhappy faculty to get too good natured at times” after a strong performance between the posts.

Charlie Querrie, manager of the Toronto Tecumsehs, informed Clark in 1908 that his services would not be required the following season, on account of “trouble” that had arose between the Toronto management and the goalkeeper. Clark then headed to the prairies in 1909 and made a brief stop in Saskatchewan, playing as a hired-hand for the Regina Capitals in their challenge for the Minto Cup. Traveling west with the Capitals to face the New Westminster Salmonbellies, ‘Bun’ then stayed on the coast. Due to rules made by the Minto Cup trustee related to the Regina Capitals challenge, Clark was unable to sign with another team that year that were in competition for the Minto Cup.

The following season, Con Jones, impressed by what he had seen watching the Regina matches, signed ‘Bun’ Clark for his Vancouver Lacrosse Club and the goalkeeper made his coast debut on Dominion Day of 1910. Clark had been sitting out and away from the game, at home in Walkerton, Ontario, when Jones telegrammed him with an offer in early June 1910. In the wake of Dave Gibbons (along with some other local players) going on strike for more money, Con Jones was left scrambling to find a replacement. He had given a try-out to the former Fairview Lacrosse Club intermediate champion goalkeeper G McDonald but the promising netminder was injured at the end of the practise when ‘Dude’ Sumner, another former Fairview team-mate of McDonald’s, accidentally knocked the keeper senseless with a “wicked shot” to his nose – making him unavailable for Vancouver Lacrosse Club’s next start.

‘Bun’ Clark with Vancouver, ca.1910-11
‘Bun’ Clark with Vancouver, ca.1910-11

On May 24, 1911, in the opening game of the season, he had a shutout against the Salmonbellies at Queens Park. Later that same season on June 24, during the second of the two Coronation Medals exhibition matches, Clark shutout New Westminster again. He would get his third shutout of 1911 when he stonewalled his former Toronto Tecumseh club in their lacklustre 5-0 loss to Vancouver Lacrosse Club in the opening game of the Minto Cup playoffs. He would later pick up his third competitive shutout – this time playing for the New Westminster Salmonbellies – in the final game of the 1919 season.

‘Bun’ Clark would play 2 seasons and 21 matches for Con Jones and his Greenshirts before signing with the New Westminster Salmonbellies in April 1912 as a replacement for ‘Sandy’ Gray. The manner of his departure from Vancouver is muddled and conflicted – as it was reported he had been released from the club by Con Jones on April 3, 1912, although other reports from around the same time were saying he had been expected to re-sign with Vancouver. A week after his release, the Vancouver Province reported Clark had told the newspaper he had come to terms with Jones and would be re-signing with Vancouver, followed the next day with news breaking that New Westminster had come along and upped the ante, inking him for $2,000, which was several hundred more than Vancouver was offering to pay. It was a big loss for Vancouver, as the Vancouver Daily World gave credit to Clark, along with fellow import Billy Fitzgerald, as the two main reasons why Vancouver had been successful in winning the Minto Cup in 1911.

‘Bun’ Clark retired after the 1921 season when personal business took him back home to Ontario for good – by that time, he had chalked up 96 games with New Westminster over 8 seasons. His career played out over a 24 year period from 1898 to 1921 with Toronto Tecumsehs, Regina Capitals, Vancouver Lacrosse Club, and New Westminster Salmonbellies and he was the oldest pro player (or longest tenured) in the game when he left British Columbia in 1921.

During his time on the West Coast, he also attended training camps (as a goalkeeper) for the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association in the 1911-12 and 1915-16 seasons but never appeared in any league games. When his playing days on the Coast came to an end, the Vancouver Sunday Sun newspaper, in a glowing tribute article written about him in April 1922, compared him to his contemporary, peer equivalent in ice hockey, Vancouver Millionaires veteran goaltender Hugh Lehman.

‘Bun’ Clark, 1912
‘Bun’ Clark at Recreation Park – from the same 1912 game as the photo above.

He played in a total of 117 games in his 10 seasons spent out west with Vancouver and New Westminster – by far the most of any goalkeeper and more than double the number of the next closest challenger. Clark had 67 wins and 2 ties to his credit which gave him a .581 winning percentage. He saw 570 goals scored against him, which resulted in a 4.87 goals-against average. While goalkeepers such as Alex ‘Sandy’ Gray and Bernie Feedham (who succeeded him on New Westminster in 1922) may have had better winning records and goals-against averages, neither them nor any other goalkeeper in the Coast pro game had the durability of ‘Bun’ Clark.

Alban Clark married Mary Thornton in Toronto on October 17, 1927 – his occupation was listed as “grocer” on their marriage license. His marriage is the last documentation of ‘Bun’ Clark as the old, great goalkeeper then disappeared into history.

Regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers – if not the greatest – on the Pacific Coast during the field lacrosse era, ‘Bun’ Clark would become one of the inaugural inductees into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1965. Two years later the oldtimer made the long trip from his home in Toronto to New Westminster to be on hand for the opening of the new hall of fame on May 17, 1967.


(PHOTO SOURCES: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-585; Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame CLHOF X979.132.1c2; CVA 371-607; CVA 371-595)