IRVING ‘PUNK’ WINTEMUTE
(February 24, 1886 – March 28, 1937)
New Westminster Salmonbellies (1905-1915; 1919)
‘Punk’ Wintemute was a member of the 1908 Minto Cup team that went East to pry the silver mug from the Montréal Shamrocks. He would then go on to play eight seasons at the professional level for the New Westminster Salmonbellies.
He played junior lacrosse with the New Westminster East End team known as the Reginas until around 1905 when he joined the senior team. At the peak of his career he was regarded as one of the best stickhandlers in the game.
His best season as a professional came in 1912 when he scored a career-high of 13 goals that season. Finishing fourth in goal scoring for the New Westminster Salmonbellies, Wintemute had four 2-goal games. His only hat-trick was scored in 1910 during the second leg of the Minto Cup series versus Montréal Amateur Athletic Association. Playing the second home position on the midfield line, he was not a notably prolific goal scorer but still had a couple of strong seasons of production in which he reached double-digits. He retired with 43 goals in 76 professional matches, ranking him 11th in overall career scoring for professional players on the Pacific Coast and 17th for number of games played.
Away from the lacrosse field, he worked in the provincial civil service for 23 years as mining recorder and chief clerk in the government agent’s office. His responsibilities would include the staking of mining claims and dispute resolution.
In the mid-1920s, Wintemute underwent surgery to relieve his arthritis. The operation went horribly wrong and he instead ended up paralysed from the waist down and lost his vision. On June 15, 1929, an old-timers benefit match was played at Queens Park in New Westminster. Featuring many of the legendary lacrosse names from the first two decades of the century, between $1200 and $1400 was raised from the gate proceeds which were then turned over to Wintemute. After the match ended, members of both the New Westminster and Vancouver teams made their way over to ‘Punk’s house to visit with the now invalid, former fellow player from the heyday of local lacrosse.
Bedridden and blind, Wintemute would be given one of the new modern inventions known as radio to listen to broadcasts of the new modern version of his old sport now known as box lacrosse. Often old team-mates would visit him and listen to the games at his bedside and talk about their heroic days of old. Visits at his home and the radio were his only contacts with the outside world.
On August 17, 1933, a second benefit match for the ailing Wintemute was played in New Westminster between the New Westminster Adanacs and the former professional Salmonbellies of old.
Irving Wintemute passed away at his New Westminster home, located at 111 Fifth Avenue, on March 28, 1937 – his untimely death clearly brought on by the torturous years of his medical condition.
Two of his sisters married prominent lacrosse personalities in New Westminster, Oscar Swanson and Hugh Gifford.
(PHOTO SOURCES: CVA 99-41; NWMA IHP1490)