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)