Five years ago today, on February 14, 2012, the original edition of Professional Field Lacrosse in British Columbia 1909-1924 was published.
Since that time, the Old School Lacrosse website came into being and an expanded, second edition – renamed to match the website title – was published two and a half years later.
To celebrate this 5th Anniversary milestone, an updated book PDF of Old School Lacrosse – Professional Lacrosse in British Columbia 1909-1924 has been uploaded and made public today – including all the player biographies and stories written to date. Enjoy!
ARCHIBALD EDWARD (ARCHIE) MACNAUGHTON
(July 26, 1864 – July 1937) Montréal Amateur Athletic Association (1882-1891)
Victoria Lacrosse Club (1892-1893)
Victoria Capitals (1894)
Victoria Triangles (1895)
Archie Macnaughton (his surname has appeared spelt variously as McNaughton, MacNaughton, and Macnaughton) is an interesting figure in the very early days of the sport in Canada. While he never played in the professional ranks, he was one of lacrosse’s early star players in Montréal – as well as a pioneering figure in the establishment of the game on the Pacific Coast and the rise of the Victoria senior teams in the mid-1890s.
He was born in Lachine, Québec and was a member of the Montréal Garrison Artillery which participated in the suppression of the North-West Rebellion in 1885. The Montréal Gazette called him one of three “crack snowshoers” who were welcomed home by club members.
His Scottish ancestry may possibly be linked to an old family in Glenlyon, Scotland as there is mention of an Archibald McNaughton (possibly his father) in church records at Scotch Presbyterian Church in Montréal, who was born in Callendar, Scotland but grew up near Saint-Eustache in suburban Montréal. However, “Archibald McNaughton” does appear infrequently as a name occurring in early Montréal.
He helped Montréal win a junior championship in 1881 and then turned senior the following year. Macnaughton was widely regarded as one of the best home fielders (attack midfielders in modern language) and one of the fastest sprinters to play the game in his day, with phenomenal speed. He possessed a deadly and dangerous shot, usually taken on a dead run and the ball’s velocity was reported to be stronger in force than that of a baseball player fielding the ball home.
He was the fourth-best goal scorer in the 1886 National Lacrosse Union season with 7 goals in 10 games for the Montréal Amateur Athletic Association. The following season however he was held scoreless in 7 games played. In 1888, Montréal AAA dropped out of the NLU and the league barely staggered to the finish. When Montréal AAA returned to the NLU in 1889, they lost Macnaughton to a twisted ankle in the pre-season. On his return to play, after missing two matches, he still managed to make up for goals to finish second in league scoring with 8 goals in 6 matches.
His final season with Montréal Amateur Athletic Association saw him playing the role of Atlas, shouldering the team’s goal-scoring in the wake of the retirements of Tom Paton and W. Hodgson, the two other leading players with the ‘Winged Wheelers’. He once again finished in second-place for goals with 8 scored in 8 games. Montréal AAA would drop out of the National Lacrosse Union again in 1891.
He moved to the Pacific Coast in 1892 and joined the Victoria Lacrosse Club. He played in 3 matches that year, held scoreless in his first two appearances and then scoring 3 goals in his third outing for Victoria. He also refereed two senior league games that same season.
Archie Macnaughton married Miss EM Bishop of Montréal in a ceremony held at First Presbyterian Church in Vancouver on August 11, 1892. They left Vancouver that same day and took up residence in Victoria.
In 1893, as a member of the Victoria club, he helped lead the Capital City crew in victory over his former team, the Montréal Amateur Athletic Association, 6-0 during their tour of the Eastern clubs. The team’s return to their home town that October was met by the city band and a midnight reception which followed at the Driard Hotel. During the senior league season that year, he played in 6 matches and scored 3 goals.
Archie Macnaughton had his best campaign for Victoria in 1894, when he scored 11 goals in 10 matches – finishing off the regular season by scoring 5 of Victoria Capitals’ 6 goals in their rout over Vancouver Lacrosse Club on September 29, 1894. He then bagged another 2 goals in the Capitals’ playoff match played at Brockton Point the following month versus New Westminster. That playoff meeting ended in dispute as Victoria was leading the championship game 3 goals to 2 when the game was called due to darkness. Claiming the championship, the Victoria Capitals then withdrew from the British Columbia Amateur Lacrosse Association on November 2, 1894 in protest of referee indecision in the playoff game and due to New Westminster arriving at Brockton Point an hour and a half late which resulted in the late start.
Macnaughton made only a single appearance for the Victoria Triangles in the 1895 season, which saw him scrape through Victoria’s fifth goal in a 6-2 rout over Vancouver to close out the final game of the season.
He played ice hockey for Montréal Amateur Athletic Association of the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada from 1887 to 1892, appearing in 19 games and scoring 21 goals. Macnaughton was the leading goal scorer in the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada in 1890.
In 1888 he had to testify in a libel lawsuit which involved accusations of lacrosse players match-fixing a game.
In the first week of April 1894, he was part of a British Columbia ‘Mainland’ team that traveled to San Francisco, California to participate in exhibition matches versus a British Columbia ‘Island’ team as well as a San Francisco team a few days later. These were the first lacrosse games played in that city and attracted considerable attention from the locals.
Archie Macnaughton managed the New Westminster Salmonbellies in 1900 and he took his team back east on tour. He was later the manager of the Vancouver Lacrosse Club in 1908 and 1910.
(PHOTO SOURCES: provided by Eric Zweig; CLHOF X994.15 excerpt; CLHOF X994.29 excerpt)
DAVID WALTER (DAVE) GIBBONS (February 22, 1884 – October 6, 1966) Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1904-1910; 1915) North Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1911) Toronto Lacrosse Club (1912) Vancouver Athletic Club (1913) Vancouver ‘Greenshirts’ (1918) Vancouver Terminals (1919; 1921)
Dave Gibbons was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. His father was born in Ireland while his mother was an American and his family moved to Canada when he was a youngster around 1890, ending up in Burnaby, British Columbia. Regardless his background, he was readily accepted as a local product by the Vancouver fans.
Gibbons made his senior lacrosse debut in 1904 and became a mainstay with the Vancouver Lacrosse Club as the senior amateur game transitioned into the early professional years. While well-regarded as a goaltender, his career during the professional era appears more as being stuck with the role of the perennial, stop-gap replacement that Vancouver teams would fall back on during rough times when their prime, starting keepers became unavailable.
During the 1910 season, a group of local players consisting of Dave Gibbons, George Matheson, Ernie Murray, and ‘Toots’ Clarkson 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 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 quit 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. Con Jones quickly replaced Gibbons with Eastern import Alban ‘Bun’ Clark.
Gibbons would resurface the following year playing for the North Vancouver Lacrosse Club entry trying to gain admittance into the professional league. Two lopsided losses in test matches against New Westminster and Vancouver, in which Gibbons conceded a total of 25 goals, sealed the fate of the would-be third team in the British Columbia Lacrosse Association and their application was quickly rejected.
Dave Gibbons married Bertha Burnett, of Tacoma, Washington, on April 11, 1912 in Vancouver. He then left for Ontario when the Toronto Lacrosse Club signed Gibbons for the 1912 Dominion Lacrosse Union season, but his fortunes played out no better in the East as the ‘Torontos’ ended up mired in last-place in the four-team league.
He would return to the Coast the following year and found himself picked up by the Vancouver Athletic Club when the Mann Cup champions made their jump to the professional ranks and challenged the New Westminster Salmonbellies for the Minto Cup. Dave Gibbons and his opposite Alban ‘Bun’ Clark hold the distinction of being the two goalkeepers in the only meeting ever played between current Mann Cup and Minto Cup champions. Gibbons’s team would go down in defeat 9-1 and 5-3.
In 1914, the Athletics would join the professional league full-time but went with Byron ‘Boss’ Johnson as their keeper in lieu of Gibbons. He would resurface the following year when ‘Boss’ Johnson, now with the resuscitated Vancouver Lacrosse Club under Con Jones, dropped out mid-season and Jones had Gibbons held in reserve as a replacement. The 1915 team photograph for Vancouver shows a very rare occurrence in those field lacrosse days: a team carrying two goalkeepers at once.
The closest Gibbons ever saw himself winning a national championship occurred in 1918 when he helped lead the Vancouver Greenshirts to a 6-2 win/loss record over New Westminster, easily his best season during the professional era, in the Mainland Lacrosse Association series. The team won the Minto Cup and was regarded as champions when the season ended but the title was stripped the following year by the BCLA when the New Westminster Salmonbellies claimed – conveniently after they had lost the cup series – that they had never fielded a team and rejected Vancouver’s claims over the Minto Cup.
Dave Gibbons would play two more seasons of professional lacrosse, in 1919 and 1921, which book-ended the Vancouver Terminals 1920 Minto Cup championship when they went with Jake Davis as their goaltender. On June 14, 1919, the second game of the season, Dave Gibbons had his only professional shutout as the Terminals defeated the Salmonbellies 4-0. In his final season, he signed with the Terminals after their keeper Davis had bolted for Con Jones’s team in his upstart, rival Pacific Coast Lacrosse Association. Gibbons’s final pro lacrosse match was on July 29, 1921 – to be replaced by Jake Davis for the remainder of the season when the PCLA folded the previous month and Davis was once more available.
His long career, with hindsight and with what is known, is an interesting study in both longevity and misfortune. His statistics from the professional era show a player who was mediocre at best, apart from his strong 1918 campaign. The fact that he was well-regarded by many, both during his playing years as well as many years later by his contemporaries and opponents, must lend some serious credence that he had the misfortune to have played for some rather poor performing Vancouver teams in front of him. A weak or terrible goaltender would not have lasted an impressive 17 years in the game, so one has to wonder whether he was often a bright spot on some not-so-bright teams. That said, the fact that the more successful Vancouver teams generally did not go with him, gives the impression that perhaps he was not regarded to have been a clutch, ‘go to’ goaltender – perhaps a player who was well beyond dependable in a pinch, but not one who was going to push the team over the top towards greatness.
It is a sad irony that when Vancouver won their Minto Cup titles in 1911 and 1920, he was not a member of the team – and when Gibbons finally did manage to win a championship in 1918, it was later denied to him and his team.
Outside of lacrosse, his occupation was listed on the 1921 Canadian census as a customs officer. In 1965, Dave Gibbons was named one of the inaugural, charter inductees for the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame. He passed away the following year and was interred at Ocean View Cemetery in Burnaby. His wife passed away in her one-hundredth year in 1989.
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 a 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.
With the current 2017 edition now at 592 pages (with 26 more pages of new content compared to the 2016 edition), the almanac has expanded to cover the rest of Canada as well as American NCAA collegiate, professional leagues, international competitions, and foreign domestic leagues where information is available.
HARRY JOHN ‘FAT’ PAINTER
(February 10, 1890 – August 5, 1940) Vancouver Athletic Club (1911; 1913)
Vancouver Athletics (1914)
Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1915; 1921)
Vancouver ‘Greenshirts’ (1918)
Vancouver Terminals (1919-1920; 1921-1924)
Harry ‘Fat’ Painter was a defensive mainstay for Vancouver lacrosse teams for 10 seasons. He broke into the professional game when the Vancouver Athletic Club, three-time Mann Cup champions, made their jump from the senior amateurs to challenge New Westminster Salmonbellies for the Minto Cup in 1913. His usual playing spot was at point although he did fill in at coverpoint and first defence for parts of a few seasons.
After the demise of the Vancouver Athletics, Con Jones signed him in 1915 for his resurrected Vancouver Lacrosse Club. Like all lacrosse players in British Columbia, he was inactive in 1916 and 1917 when organised play in the province was suspended due to the Great War.
He played a couple games for Vancouver during the 1918 revival involving the Mainland Lacrosse Association before becoming a fixture on the Vancouver Terminals from 1919 until the end of the professional game in 1924. In 1921, ‘Fat’ Painter was part of the Vancouver player exodus who followed Con Jones into his short-lived, rival Pacific Coast Lacrosse Association. Painter would return to the Terminals for a couple of games in 1921 and then resume on a full-time basis with them a year later in July 1922.
His younger brother, Joseph Painter, a midfielder, became a team-mate of his with the PCLA’s Vancouver Lacrosse Club in 1921 and then followed him over to the Terminals in 1922.
‘Fat’ Painter played in 81 professional games for the various teams that represented Vancouver in professional lacrosse and Minto Cup play. He never scored any goals but chalked up 28 penalties and 155 in penalty minutes.
His father, HJ Painter, had been the city assessor in Vancouver. Harry Painter attended Fairview and King Edward high-schools in his youth and later attended the University of British Columbia. As a sixteen year-old he played lacrosse for a Fairview team in what was most likely a local, Vancouver junior league.
Harry Painter passed away suddenly on August 5, 1940 when he was found dead at his home by his brother-in-law. At the time of his death, he had been working as acting assistant superintendent at the post office, his employer for 29 years. He was survived by his wife and two children, William and Daphne.
CHARLES (CHARLIE) ‘SMILER’ McCUAIG
(birth and death dates unknown) Vancouver Athletic Club (1910-1913)
Vancouver Athletics (1914)
Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1915; 1921)
Vancouver ‘Greenshirts’ (1918)
Vancouver Terminals (1919; 1922)
One of the many now-forgotten Vancouver lacrosse players who plied their trade in the post-Great War professional game, Charlie ‘Smiler’ McCuaig played in 55 games over 7 seasons with an assortment of Vancouver teams in the British Columbia Lacrosse Association, Mainland Lacrosse Association, and Pacific Coast Lacrosse Association.
Prior to turning professional, he played at the senior amateur level for the Mann Cup champion Vancouver Athletic Club for three seasons from 1910 through to 1912. McCuaig seems to be have been absent from the 1913 Mann Cup team (or at least absent from the club’s portrait-collage photograph commemorating their three Mann Cup titles) even though he was a member of the squad that challenged the New Westminster Salmonbellies for the professional Minto Cup in 1913.
He was a defensive midfielder who could also cover the coverpoint and point defensive positions when required. He scored 5 goals and had 12 penalties for 77 penalty minutes to his name. There is not much press about Charlie McCuaig, except about getting beaten flatfooted by speedster ‘Pat’ Feeney in one match in the early-1920s.
Charlie McCuaig seems to have been replaced by former Vancouver Athletic Club team-mate Eustace Gillanders in 1920 – whether he was edged out of the roster for the spot or simply quit the game is unknown – but he returned the following year to play for Con Jones’s Vancouver entry in his brand-new Pacific Coast Lacrosse Association. When the PCLA folded a month or so later after 5 games played in its schedule, McCuaig once again found himself sitting on the sidelines.
He was picked up by the Vancouver Terminals for the 1922 season when defensive spots opened up with the retirement of the legendary Johnny Howard and the departure of Eastern import D. Langevin. By the following season, Everett McLaren had been moved back to his comfortable place at coverpoint after a one-season sojourn spent playing in the midfield and ‘Smiler’ McCuaig disappeared from the professional scene for good.
This photograph, in the collection of the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, was apparently taken of a lacrosse game in action, played in Montréal, Québec in August 1864 – and as you can read, the caption claims it was the “first instantaneous snapshot ever taken”.
It is unknown whether the description implies it was the first-ever snapshot in photographic history – or just the first-ever photograph of a lacrosse game. On the back of the photo is the signature of AE Macnaughton (d.1937), who seems to be describing and verifying the nature of the print and its date. The author of Old School Lacrosse has frequently come across Archie Macnaughton’s name in his research from the 1890s to 1920s, a well-known individual involved in the game – first as a player in the 1890s for the Victoria Lacrosse Club and then later as manager of the Vancouver Lacrosse Club, as well as a referee and an association executive.
It is suspected the print copy in the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame collection is a re-print that dates from before the 1930s and certainly not an original print from the 1860s.
However, based on what little the author knows of photography history, there are some serious doubts whether this photo actually does date from 1864.
The clearness and lack of blur of the players in motion in the image is unusual for photography of the era. The earliest snapshot cameras did not come along until 1888 with the introduction of the Kodak No.1 camera. The next latest occurrence of actions shots of lacrosse matches does not happen until the first five or so years of the 1900s.
Therefore, Old School Lacrosse suspects the photograph’s origins are likely three decades later, say 1880-1890s range. Perhaps 1864 is a typographical error for 1894?
CHARLES (CHARLIE) GALBRAITH
(August 28, 1881 – November 10, 1924) New Westminster Salmonbellies (1905-1911)
One of the seven children of Hugh and Jane Galbraith, Charles was born in New Brunswick but then moved west with his family.
Young Galbraith played lacrosse with the New Westminster intermediate club in 1902, winning a provincial championship that year with the team. He played with the West End Club in the Royal City until around 1905 or 1906 when he graduated to the senior amateur New Westminster Salmonbellies. His older brothers William (known better by his nickname ‘Barlow’) and Robert both played intermediate lacrosse before him – Barlow with the New Westminster club in 1900 and Robert won the intermediate title in 1899 with the Maple Leaf club. Charlie would play alongside brother ‘Barlow’ in his first years with the senior Salmonbellies.
In the aftermath of the infamous gunshot incident at Queens Park that occurred on Saturday, September 26, 1908, Charlie Galbraith’s name was brought up in the British Columbia Amateur Lacrosse Association inquiry into the events with talk of levying suspensions against Galbraith (amongst others) whose role in the disturbance is otherwise completely unknown and unreported.
His professional career was short: just two full seasons in 1909 and 1910 followed by a couple of games in 1911, by which time he had been edged out of his defensive point position by Eastern import Johnny Howard. Charlie Galbraith would make an appearance in the New Westminster team photographs taken in May 1911 and was still deemed prominent enough a player, most likely on account of his membership on the 1908 Minto Cup championship team, to warrant inclusion on a cigarette card in the Imperial Tobacco lacrosse card set of 1911.
In the final match of the 1910 season, during the Minto Cup series against the Montréal Nationals, ‘Newsy’ Lalonde electrified spectators with an impressive goal all the while Galbraith was checking tight on him, twisting through the air past the Salmonbellies defender to bury the ball past goalkeeper Sandy Gray. Galbraith may have still been smarting bitter the following year – as when the two players faced off again and ‘Newsy’ this time now leading the Vancouver Lacrosse Club in the quest for the cherished silverware, Charlie was sent off for the final twenty-five minutes of the gritty match after walloping Lalonde.
In total, Charlie Galbraith played in 29 professional games with 10 penalties and 75 penalty minutes to his name; his prime playing days came in the decade of amateur, senior lacrosse which preceded the pro game.
Away from the lacrosse field, he was employed by Galbraith & Sons, which were lumber manufacturers based in New Westminster and Langley. A member of the New Westminster family associated with the famous Galbraith House located on the corner of Sixth Street and Queens Avenue, Charlie Galbraith had called the Murrayville community in Langley Township his home for the last twenty years or so of his life.
And, it was in Langley where a horrific tragedy would take Charles Galbraith’s life, at the age of 43, and leave behind a widow and three young children.
In the early hours of November 10, 1924, Charlie Galbraith was driving along Glover Trunk Road between Langley Prairie and Milner. He was returning to Fort Langley to drop off his five passengers after volunteering to drive for an impromptu evening excursion which had ended up in New Westminster. At around two o’clock in the morning, his automobile suddenly skidded, probably on account of loose gravel on the road. Two of its wheels made contact with slippery grass at the side of the road and as Galbraith tried to regain control, the front wheels jack-knifed and his vehicle flipped over into the ditch.
His fellow occupants managed to make their escape but Galbraith was pinned down, with only his head clear of the now burning automobile. Because the gasoline tank in his automobile was located directly underneath the driver’s seat, with the automobile now inverted upside-down, gasoline poured down all over on him.
According to the report in The Columbian newspaper, he would have died quickly in the flames which engulfed him and the automobile – but at the investigation held the following day in Murrayville, the coroner’s jury believed Charlie Galbraith could have been saved if one of his fellow travelers had stayed on the scene to render assistance instead of leaving the scene of the accident to obtain help from a nearby farm.
THOMAS STUART (TOM) GIFFORD
(June 5, 1880 – May 4, 1966) New Westminster Salmonbellies (1898-1912)
One of the greatest New Westminster defensive players in the first decade of the Twentieth Century and the captain of the New Westminster Salmonbellies during their early professional years, Tommy Gifford was born in Lockerbie, Scotland. At the age of seven, in 1887, he moved to Canada with his parents and younger siblings. He was the eldest of the four Gifford brothers who all eventually played professional lacrosse with the Salmonbellies. Two other brothers would play at the senior level for the redshirts.
Gifford played his first games with the Salmonbellies in 1898 at the tender age of 18 as an intermediate pick-up. The following year, he won the provincial intermediate championship with the Maple Leaf club of New Westminster. Soon afterwards making his move full-time to the seniors, his presence on the field was so impressive that by 1903, at the still youthful age of 23, he was already recognised across Canada as one of the leading, veteran defenders of the Salmonbellies. He played the coverpoint position, marking the opposing outside home attacker – except in 1911, when he split time playing at point defense.
On March 14, 1903, his lacrosse career was almost cut short when Gifford was nearly killed while working as a lineman on one of the city telephone and lighting poles in New Westminster. The rotted-out pole toppled over after he had reached the top and came crashing down on a pile of lumber. He escaped with his life – as well as bumps and bruises to his hip and shoulder.
July 1905 saw Gifford out with a tendon injury, incurred during a rough match versus Vancouver, putting his left arm into a sling.
1907 was a difficult year for Tom Gifford, who had the young intermediate Cliff ‘Doughy’ Spring chasing him for his spot on the team that June. The following month then saw him on the sidelines with his left arm once again in a sling after a particular rough match versus Vancouver Lacrosse Club on July 12.
He was a central figure in the infamous gunshot incident at Queens Park in 1908 and his leadership presence over the rioting participants to help quell the situation is testimony to the respect he had with lacrosse fans and players alike.
Tom Gifford, like most defenders of the day, played hard both dealing out the hits and taking them for his team. In 1957, sports writer and former National Hockey League manager Tommy Gorman recalled in the Ottawa Citizen an incident with Gifford when he was playing for Regina in 1909 versus New Westminster:
“In the second period Tom Gifford hit me so hard he broke my jaw, cracked my nose and knocked out four teeth. I woke up in hospital with Sport [Henry] Murton and Jack Shea beside my bed. There was a terrible moan from the next room. “What happened? I said. “What’s that moaning?” “Ssssssshhh,” said Sport, “That’s the guy who hit you.”
Prior to the Minto Cup series against the Regina Capitals, Gifford had been under the weather for a couple weeks with “la grippe” – as the flu was referred to back in the day. With the press reporting he was thus out of shape, Gifford must have found his game feet in time to lay out Gorman.
One incident, on Dominion Day of 1911, sparked by Tommy Gifford, showed just what a brazen character he could be at times in contrast to his calm manner during the gunshot incident three years before:
Having played what was described as “a strenuous sort of game all afternoon”, Gifford decided to take a crack at Vancouver enforcer (and future NHL hall-of-fame referee) Fred ‘Mickey’ Ion. With Referee WD Ditchburn in pursuit, Gifford then ran amok on the field at Recreation Park trying to avoid the fine cheque being issued by Ditchburn. He was eventually cornered by the other referee, TD Cusack, and was ordered out of the game after Cusack had stuffed the fine down Gifford’s sweater.
The game then resumed – but as Tommy Gifford was heading off the playing field to the Salmonbellies’ clubhouse, he changed his mind and instead made for the Vancouver goal and hung out around there while play continued in the New Westminster end. Neither official seemed to notice him to stop play – so when the action made its way down the field towards the Vancouver goal, Gifford decided to take a run and charge Vancouver point defender and team captain Harry Griffiths from behind. Griffiths then turned around and struck back at the New Westminster captain, chopping the side of his head with his stick. Now sporting a big gash, Gifford then swung back at the three Vancouver offensive players, Archie Adamson, Billy Fitzgerald, and Newsy Lalonde – who had entered the fray and all walloped back at the now-outnumbered Gifford.
Gifford was finally escorted off the field by a friend of his – but not before another fight broke out between ‘Pat’ Feeney and Nick Carter and spectators then streamed out on the field, many engaged in their own dust-ups with opposing fans. Police and park officials managed to corral the fans and clear off the field so the remainder of the match could continue.
When he retired from the game after the 1912 season, in four professional seasons Gifford had played in 51 games with 1 goal to his name. He was sent off for 26 penalties for a total of 171 penalty minutes. 1911 was his most feisty season with 12 penalties and 82 minutes – a complete turnaround from the previous season when he was sent off for only 10 minutes from 2 penalties. He was 16th in overall career penalty minutes. When looking back at his entire senior and professional career, Tom Gifford was probably the best defenseman to suit up for New Westminster during the first two decades of the club’s existence.
Gifford became the manager of the New Westminster Salmonbellies professionals in 1913 but his debut season came to an abrupt halt on July 5 when he led his team off the field in protest five minutes prior to the start of the match. On the advice of two lawyers, Gifford refused to face the Vancouver Lacrosse Club on account of suspensions to ‘Mickey’ Ion and Harry Griffiths – (haven’t we seen these two names before?). Both players were still in Con Jones’s line-up when New Westminster arrived at Hastings Park. Jones refused to budge so the Redshirts walked off to their dressing rooms. Referee Fred Cullin then placed the ball near centreman Ernie Murray’s stick and blew his whistle. The Vancouver players then passed the ball around a dozen times before bagging an unopposed goal. After two more goals were scored in similar manner, the “game” ended and the angry crowd of 5,000 went home.
Unbeknownst to most folks in attendance that day, they had witnessed the first nail in the coffin of the professional game on the Coast. It would be another 11 years before that lid was nailed tightly shut, but the newspapers of the day were nevertheless aware and observant that the sudden, acrimonious end of the 1913 BCLA season would become a serious obstacle for the sport to overcome.
He would return as manager in 1921 – between which time the post was occupied by AE Kellington and former teammate Gordon Spring. Away from the game, Gifford worked as the superintendent for the Fraser River Bridge until his retirement in 1946 after 42 years of service.
Thomas Stuart Gifford passed away in Seattle on May 4, 1966; he had moved to that city four years prior. Later that year, he was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame as a field player. His brother and former team-mate Jim Gifford accepted the induction in his memory.
GEORGE HADDOW RENNIE
(March 11, 1883 – December 13, 1966) New Westminster Salmonbellies (1901-1915; 1918-1920)
Like many accolades given to the old greats, his long-time friend and defensive team-mate Jim Gifford said that George Rennie was “one of the finest players in the world in his day”.
A defensive midfielder by trade, playing in the second defense and third defense positions, George Rennie turned senior in 1901 with the New Westminster Salmonbellies.
During the professional era, he played in 120 games and scored 18 goals. He was sent off for 38 penalty infractions for a total of 188 penalty minutes. Late in the 1919 season, he took on a substitute role as youngster Laurie Nelson took over his place on the field. Rennie would then continue in a substitute capacity throughout the 1920 campaign – his last as an active player. After the conclusion of the final match of the 1920 season, George Rennie closed the book on his two decades of playing when announced his retirement in the Salmonbellies dressing room, quoted by the newspapers as saying that: “youth must be served, and this is my last appearance in a uniform”.
Rennie was one of two New Westminster players who were members of the 1908 Canadian Olympic lacrosse team that traveled to London, England to compete in the Fourth Olympiad. Canada won the gold medal when they defeated Great Britain by a score of 14-10 on October 24, 1908. In a tournament which featured just two nations and a single match, it would be the last appearance of lacrosse at the Olympics as a fully recognised, non-demonstration sport.
He was born in either Douglastown or Newcastle, New Brunswick – both which are now parts of the modern city of Miramichi. Away from the game, Rennie worked as the superintendent of the Lulu Island Swing Bridge between Richmond and Vancouver until his retirement in the mid-1940s.
George Rennie was a charter inductee, as a field player, into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1965.