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Charlie Galbraith

charlie galbraith
Charlie Galbraith in May 1911.

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.

Galbraith as he appeared in a 1902 photo collage.
Galbraith as he appeared in a 1902 photo collage.

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.

galbraith 1908 minto
Galbraith (L) holding the Minto Cup in 1908.

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.

(PHOTO SOURCES: CVA 99-41; CLHOF X979.180.1b; NWMA IHP0567)

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