COLONEL BURNABY ‘BERNIE’ FEEDHAM
(October 25, 1895 – July 3, 1980)
New Westminster Salmonbellies (1921-1924)
The legendary Alban ‘Bun’ Clark retired at the end of the 1921 season and the New Westminster Salmonbellies suddenly found themselves in need of finding a new goalkeeper as they headed into the 1922 campaign.
At first, 33-year-old veteran Cliff Spring was strongly considered for the role but in hindsight it was a wise move to keep ‘Doughy’ as a midfielder, as he would go on to have some of his best playing years during the next two seasons.
Instead, Bernie Feedham, a substitute who had joined the team at the start of the 1921 season, made the move into the goal crease and for the last remaining days of the professional era, he excelled between the posts in stopping the ball for the Salmonbellies.
Feedham played 33 games in two-and-a-half seasons as a goalkeeper with a record of 19 wins, 13 losses and 1 tie. His .591 win percentage is the second-best for all pro goalkeepers on Pacific Coast between 1909 and 1924; only Alex ‘Sandy’ Gray had a better win record at .675 percentage. He let in 153 goals which gave him a goals-against average of 4.64 – again, just behind ‘Sandy’ Gray by just 1 goal for the lead as best goals-against amongst goalkeepers.
In his first professional season, when he played as an outfield substitute, Feedham appeared in 18 games – scoring 6 goals and clocking up 4 penalties for 21 penalty minutes.
When he was born in 1895, Bernie Feedham was given probably the most unusual Christian name ever seen in lacrosse – as ‘Bernie’ just ended up being the name that everyone referred to him as.
His actual, full, given-name on paper was Colonel Burnaby Feedham – as in, “Colonel Burnaby” was his first name. When he enrolled in the military during the Great War, as an artillery gunner, it must have been awkward and confusing at times having such a name with the military rank of ‘Colonel’ in it: Gunner Colonel Burnaby Feedham. When signing documents, he shortened his name to “C.B. Feedham”.
According to the book Pioneer Tales of Burnaby (1987), Colonel Burnaby Feedham was reported to be the first white male baby born in the municipality of East Burnaby.
The earliest evidence of his lacrosse career is a team photograph including Feedham as a spare player with the Vancouver East Ends – who were the Vancouver junior champions in 1909-10. As a youth, he moved around between teams. He found himself as the point defenseman with the East Burnaby public school team in 1911. By the end of that season he was then with the Sapperton juvenile team which toured the province. He spent 1912 and 1913 playing in the New Westminster intermediate lacrosse league for East Burnaby as their inside home (attack) player.
His senior amateur debut came in 1913 when he played two games for New Westminster. The following two seasons saw him with playing for the Vancouver Athletic Club – although he was not part of the squads that subsequently played up against the professionals. His first season with the Athletics was the last of their four-year stranglehold over the Mann Cup.
1917 found Bernie Feedham on Vancouver Island due to the Great War – in uniform, on and off the playing field, for the Victoria Fifth Garrison Artillery team. He also played some games for a team in Sidney along with team-mate Willis Patchell. His military records of the time shed some interesting physical information about the man which would have had some bearing on his playing career: he was somewhat short, his height was 5’6″ at age 22 and he had a history of synovial inflammation in his right knee.
The following year he was back on the Mainland, playing senior lacrosse for the Vancouver Coughlans Shipyards Amateur Atheltic Association team in the Vancouver Amateur Lacrosse Association. The Coughlans ended up winning the Mann Cup in 1918 by defeating the New Westminster holders – the first time the trophy had been put in competition since 1915 – but it is unknown whether Bernie Feedham participated in the three post-season games against North Vancouver Squamish Indians or Winnipeg Argonauts which secured the gold cup for Vancouver.
Feedham found himself playing for another shipyard team in 1919, when he played for the Victoria Foundation Shipyards in the Pacific Coast Amateur Lacrosse Association. Victoria won the three-team league and then proceeded to defeat the Edmonton Eskimos and Winnipeg for the Mann Cup – with Bernie Feedham responsible for half of all the goals scored by the Foundation Shipyards against the Prairie squads.
He returned to his hometown in 1920 and helped the New Westminster amateurs win the three-team PCALA league and the Mann Cup – leading the scoring along the way.
Not bad playing for three different teams and winning the Mann Cup three years in a row. With the professional New Westminster Salmonbellies, he would then add four Minto Cup titles to his name. All in all, seven national championships in seven years: three Mann Cups as a goal scorer, followed by four Minto Cups – three of them as a goaltender – plus a possible claim to the golden cup in 1914.
Ten years later in 1934, Bernie Feedham would suit up in the new Inter-City Box Lacrosse League as a back-up for Vancouver St. Helen’s Hotel, appearing in two games and letting in 26 goals for a 71.1% save percentage. He also played 14 games that same season as a runner for the New Westminster Salmonbellies. He would then play two more seasons as a runner/back-up with the New Westminster Salmonbellies for a total of 48 games as a runner and 10 of them as a goalkeeper. His brief box lacrosse career, an epilogue quite a few of the old professionals attempted, saw him play in 12 games in net, face 359 shots and make 211 saves for a 58.8% average. When he played out on the floor, he bagged 49 goals and 13 assists for 62 points. In 1935, his 40th year, the old veteran scored an impressive 34 goals in 21 games.
In April 1937, it was reported in The Chilliwack Progress that Feedham would be assisting Cliff Spring with coaching various teams of the “Mustang” lacrosse club in that city.
Outside of lacrosse, Bernie Feedham worked as a salesman for the meat packers Swift & Company between 1917 and 1925 – although his occupation is listed as an accountant on his 1918 military attestation papers. After quitting the packing industry, Feedham then moved his family to White Rock and went into business for himself. He would establish himself there, and gain local fame in the 1930s and early 1940s, with the famous Blue Moon dance hall.
After two fires, the third incarnation of the Blue Moon would be built in 1930 at a new location across from the Great Northern Railway station. Over time, the building – at one time named the Feedham Block – evolved into the Ocean Beach Hotel as it continued to be a fixture of the local White Rock entertainment scene until redevelopment in 2013. Today the establishment operates as The Hemingway Waterfront Public House (Est. 1930) – with the year in its corporate name paying homage to its days when Bernie Feedham founded the Blue Moon at the same location.
(PHOTO SOURCES: CLHOF X979.150.1; CLHOF collection)