Tag Archives: New Westminster Salmonbellies

James ‘Pat’ Feeney

James ‘Pat’ Feeney, 1920
James ‘Pat’ Feeney, 1920

(May 15, 1886 – June 19, 1948)
New Westminster Salmonbellies (1905-1915; 1918-1923)

The great little centre” known by all as ‘Pat’ Feeney was regarded as one of the fastest players – if not, the fastest – in Canada during his day – even when at the twilight of his career. When the Ottawa Capitals came west to challenge the New Westminster Salmonbellies for the Minto Cup in 1908, in their review of the opposition, the Ottawa Citizen described him as “a small, stocky chap, but looks fast and is said to have bundles of speed and grit.”

As well as his speed which made him a constant threat on the midfield, his impressive stickhandling ability was described by his Toronto Tecumseh opponents during the New Westminster Provincial Exhibition Tournament of 1907 as “the greatest they had ever seen”, along with that of his Salmonbellies team-mate Len Turnbull.

Both New Westminster boys had attracted the attention of the Tecumseh management so much so that in October 1907 there were attempts to lure ‘Pat’ and Len eastwards to suit up for the Tecumsehs for the 1908 season. Instead, both remained in their home town – and when they did go east that year, it was to help the New Westminster Salmonbellies win the first of their many Minto Cup championships.

Oddly enough, when Toronto Tecumsehs returned to British Columbia for their 1909 Minto Cup challenge against New Westminster, Feeney was forced to sit out the series when he came down with a case of rheumatism which sidelined him for half the season.

“The Fastest Centre Fielder in Canada”, ca. 1908
“The Fastest Centre Fielder in Canada”, ca. 1908

He stepped into the shoes of the legendary Alex ‘Dad’ Turnbull as the Salmonbellies’ pivot player in the midfield when age caught up to ‘Dad’ and he was forced to retire due to injuries. ‘Pat’ Feeney learnt his trade as a student of the veteran Turnbull and his playing style mirrored that of ‘Dad’.

In 1908, he was chosen for the Canadian Olympic lacrosse team but never ended up making the trip to London.

Amongst the professionals on the Pacific Coast, Feeney is tied with teammates Cliff ‘Doughy’ Spring and Dave ‘Buck’ Marshall for the most seasons played – with 13 pro campaigns under his belt between 1909 and 1923. Only Spring played in more games than ‘Pat’ Feeney’s 141 appearances for New Westminster.

‘Pat’ ranks in at sixth place in the Coast pro game both for career points (100) as well as goals scored (95). He was sent off for 34 penalties and accumulated 203 minutes, making him the 13th most penalised player on the Coast during the pro era – although his penalty totals were buttressed by 8 or 9 games where fisticuffs or ‘unsporting’ play were a likely cause.

Otherwise, by and large, he was a relatively clean player for the era, when he wanted to be. He played four seasons without a single penalty and two more seasons with just one lone infraction in the campaign assessed to his name.

James ‘Pat’ Feeney, ca.1938
‘Pat’ Feeney at a Salmonbellies re-union, ca.1938

But when the situation required it, the Irish veteran could be devilishly crafty and even annoying at times – and proud of it.

In one August 1923 game, in the final months of his career and knowing his playing days were numbered, the wily ‘Pat’ trotted on as a substitute in the second quarter and proceeded to goad his opponents into fighting as a means to draw them off to the sidelines to serve penalties. Knowing full well he was up against a soft referee in the guise of ‘Grumpy’ Spring, Feeney took advantage of the situation and exploited it to the fullest – his logic being that having the Vancouver Terminals down by a better player in exchange for the old vet was a better advantage for his New Westminster team-mates.

Whether it was deemed ‘sporting’ or not is another matter. A bitter Vancouver Daily Province would bemoan the following Monday morning about how Feeney was done as a player and had spent the entire game laughing about his antics from the sin bin and getting away with them.

‘Pat’ Feeney would manage the New Westminster Salmonbellies for one season, in 1922, relegating himself into a substitute role in which he remained until he retired from active play at the end of the following season.

His parents moved to New Westminster in 1881, five years prior to his birth. For his employment Feeney first worked in the cigar manufacturing trade before his appointment to the staff of the liquor store in New Westminster in 1921. He retired from there around three years prior to his death.

James ‘Pat’ Feeney passed away at the age of 62 in 1948 – survived by a son and a step-daughter who both were living on Vancouver Island at the time of his passing. He was posthumously inducted to the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1966.

pat feeney

(PHOTO SOURCES: CLHOF X979.150.1; X994.84; X994.170; Vancouver Daily Province May 21, 1923)

Vancouver Province cartoon of lacrosse players with referee ‘Grumpy’ Spring trotting along behind; ’Pat’ refers to ‘Pat’ Feeney, regarded one of the fast players of the era.
Vancouver Province cartoon of lacrosse players and referee ‘Grumpy’ trotting behind; ’Pat’ refers to ‘Pat’ Feeney, respected as one of the fastest players in the game – even at age 37 when this was drawn.

Alex ‘Sandy’ Gray

‘Sandy’ Gray keeping ‘Dot’ Phelan at bay, 1911
‘Sandy’ Gray keeping Vancouver’s ‘Dot’ Phelan at bay, 1911

(June 24, 1884 – June 28, 1966)
New Westminster Salmonbellies (1903-1911)

A stalwart wall in goal for the New Westminster Salmonbellies at the start of their Minto Cup championship run, Alex ‘Sandy’ Gray was the best goalie on the Coast during the three seasons (1909, 1910, and 1911) in which he played professional lacrosse for the Salmonbellies.

Prior to the advent of the professional game, he had played senior amateur lacrosse for New Westminster since 1903 when he made his debut at the age of 18. He took over from the great Bob Cheyne, who was forced to retire to due failing eyesight. Early in his career, he occasionally played at defensive coverpoint when Dick Eickhoff went in goal.

Alex Gray was the brother of Arthur Wellesley ‘Wells’ Gray, a lacrosse player in his own right and later – as an elected official and provincial cabinet minister – the man responsible for creating some of British Columbia’s earliest provincial parks such as Tweedsmuir and Manning Parks as well as the provincial park in the Cariboo which bears his name.

‘Sandy’ Gray, ca.1908
‘Sandy’ Gray, ca.1908

In action photographs, ‘Sandy’ is unmistakably identifiable with his dark peaked cap, lanky build, skinny legs, and gangly posture while parked in front of the goal.

Gray played a total of 40 pro games and won 27 of them – 2 of them with shutouts. He had a .675 winning record and 4.63 goals-against average, statistics that would lead all Coast pro goalkeepers in both of those categories. He was also the most penalised goalkeeper in the Coast pro game with 9 penalties and 65 minutes to his name – most of those accumulated during his final campaign.

‘Sandy’ Gray retired after the 1911 season, in which New Westminster lost hold of the Minto Cup to the greenshirts of the Vancouver Lacrosse Club. He would then be replaced in goal by ‘Bun’ Clark, lured away from the champions to suit up for the redshirts of the Royal City.

He passed away while at Royal Columbian Hospital, four days after celebrating his 82nd birthday, convalescing from a broken hip he had suffered on May 3, 1966. Outside of lacrosse, ‘Sandy’ Gray worked for 34 years as the provincial government agent at the New Westminster courthouse until his retirement in 1949. He was survived by his unmarried daughter Merle, who resided at the same home as him located at 1821 Nanaimo Street near Grimston Park, and his two sons Alexander Lloyd Gray and Alastair Anton Gray.

sandy gray stats


Gordon ‘Grumpy’ Spring

Gordon ‘Grumpy’ Spring, July 1910
Gordon ‘Grumpy’ Spring, July 1910

(September 15, 1889 – September 21, 1949)
New Westminster Salmonbellies (1908-1921)

Gordon ‘Grumpy’ Spring was a goal-scoring machine for the New Westminster Salmonbellies and the best pure offensive player to wear the redshirt sweater during the pro lacrosse era.

After he retired in 1921, he became a referee in the pro league – and then later became the manager of the New Westminster Salmonbellies during the years of the Great Depression and Second World War before he passed away in 1949 at the age of 60.

From 1909 to 1921, Spring played in 134 pro games on the Pacific Coast, scoring 191 goals and accumulating 34 penalties for 181 penalty minutes. In two of those seasons, he led all players in goal scoring – in 1912 with 29 goals and then 1915 with 23 goals. His lone senior appearance occurred during the infamous gunshot riot of 1908. Although a member of the 1908 team, he did not accompany the Salmonbellies back east in their Minto Cup challenge on account of his age and the cost of the trip.

Gordon Spring, ca.1908
Gordon Spring, ca.1908

Gordon Spring played the inside home position whose role in field lacrosse back then was simple: score goals. And with that task, ‘Grumpy’ Spring excelled very well indeed.

Spring’s typical play was to set himself up in a starting position between fifteen and twenty feet behind and the same distance to the side of the net outside the opposing goalkeeper’s forward line of sight. ‘Grumpy’ would then drive around and cut across the front of the net. He used a sawed off stick which he kept tucked close to him, making it difficult for his check to dislodge and defend against as the feeding pass to Spring came hurtling in. With one quick shot, timed for the incoming pass, he’d fire the ball over the keeper’s shoulder.

‘Grumpy’ was broad and heavy and not a fast runner, but so long as he was fed a good pass right at his body and the waiting pocket – and not above or off to his side where he would have to then expose his stick – he could execute his signature move from start to finish in but a few seconds, catching the keeper unaware of his attacking run until it was too late to re-act. As an early pioneer of the one-timer, it was a play he ran countless times to perfection.

Vancouver Province caricature of Referee Grumpy, 1923
Vancouver Province caricature of Referee ‘Grumpy’ Spring, May 1923

His best scoring output occurred on August 20, 1909 when he shell-shocked Vancouver goalkeeper Dave Gibbons for 5 goals – including a third-quarter hat-trick. In six other games he bagged 4 goals and he chalked up 20 games with hat-trick. With a total of 27 games under his belt with 3 or more goals scored to his name, ‘Grumpy’ Spring held a 7-game advantage in hat-tricks (or better) over his nearest challengers in Édouard ‘Newsy’ Lalonde and his brother Cliff Spring.

Despite being the greatest scoring player on the Coast during the heyday of the field era, his later accomplishments as a manager in the game were even more legendary and which ultimately secured ‘Grumpy’ Spring a place in the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1966 as a Builder. He was manager of the New Westminster Salmonbellies when the team participated in the 1932 Olympic Games held in Los Angeles, where lacrosse was a demonstration sport. He won two Mann Cups with the team in 1937 and 1943.

When he passed away on September 21, 1949, the news made the front page of the New Westminster Columbian newspaper as tributes showered in. “Lacrosse has lost its best friend and no fair-weather friend at that. He stayed with the game when it was at its lowest ebb, and loved it” stated the long-time New Westminster parks board chairman and lacrosse supporter Dan McKenzie.

I used to get a bigger kick out of the game when we had to pass the hat around in order to meet the bills, than now when money seems to be the main object” Grumpy was quoted as saying to McKenzie not long prior to his passing.

Gordon Spring was born in Bracebridge, Ontario (modern District of Muskoka) and moved west with his parents at the age of eight. Outside of lacrosse, ‘Grumpy’ worked as a plumber under the partnership firm name of Spring & Sybley for 35 years.

(PHOTO SOURCES: CVA Sp P91; NWMA IHP1727; Vancouver Daily Province May 21, 1923)

Cliff ‘Doughy’ Spring

Cliff Spring in The Columbian, 1924
Cliff Spring appearing in The Columbian newspaper, 1924

(January 24, 1888 – March 8, 1974)
New Westminster Salmonbellies (1906-1913; 1915; 1918-1924)
Toronto Tecumsehs (1914)
Ottawa Capitals (1916-1917)

Born in Draper Township of Muskoka District in Ontario, Cliff Spring moved west as a youngster. He played intermediate lacrosse with the New Westminster West Ends starting in 1900 through into 1905. In the summer of 1905, he went to play for a team in Kamloops but returned to New Westminster the following year to play a season with the New Westminster Reginas. While with the Reginas in 1906, he also appeared in between the posts as a call-up goalkeeper for the senior Salmonbellies. In 1907 he found himself back with the West Ends intermediates but then soon turned senior full-time that same year with the New Westminster Salmonbellies.

No other pair of brothers dominated the game during the professional era quite like the Spring Brothers, Cliff and Gordon – or better known to their fans and opponents as ‘Doughy’ and ‘Grumpy’. 18% of all the pro goals scored on the Coast between 1909 and 1924 were scored by a Spring. On New Westminster, ‘Grumpy’ Spring accounted for almost 19% of the Salmonbellies goals while brother ‘Doughy’ accounted for another almost 15% of the goals – keep in mind that ‘Grumpy’ did not play in the Salmonbellies’ last three professional campaigns. Therefore, their careers combined, the Spring Brothers were responsible for one-third of New Westminster’s goals.

Cliff Spring looking at memorabilia during the 1960s.
Cliff Spring looking at memorabilia during the 1960s.

When trying to determine which one of the Spring brothers was the better player, it boils down to comparing raw statistics with raw ability – and statistics don’t always paint a clear picture. Statistically speaking, brother ‘Grumpy’ would be ranked the better player on account of his goal-scoring – but as a student of the game played on the field, Doughy would be regarded the better player due to his knowledge and ability to play, competently when required, in any position on the field – including between the posts in goal – although his usual territory was in the midfield. Meanwhile his brother ‘Grumpy’ was really only dangerous and effective when parked in the vicinity around the enemy crease.

Cliff Spring led all professional players on the Pacific Coast with 157 career games played between 1909 and 1924. Ranked behind his brother Gordon, Cliff was second in all-time pro scoring with 154 goals and third in penalties with 55 infractions accounting for 274 minutes – ranking him at 8th for time spent sitting in the sin bin. Regarded as one of the finest stick-handlers developed, ‘Doughy’ was known for foregoing any form of protection, preferring to play barehanded and bareheaded.

Unlike his brother Gordon who played his entire lacrosse career for the New Westminster Salmonbellies, Cliff was lured to Ontario along with team-mate Len Turnbull in 1914 when they signed with the Toronto Tecumsehs of the Dominion Lacrosse Association. Appearing in all 18 matches for the last-place Tecumsehs, ‘Doughy’ Spring finished tied for sixth place in the league for goals with 24.

He returned to the Salmonbellies the following season but 1916 then found lacrosse in British Columbia suspending play for the remaining duration of the Great War. With the offer of a job and a split of the gate receipts, Cliff Spring packed up his bags once again and went back East – this time signing with the Ottawa Capitals of the National Lacrosse Union. ‘Doughy’ scored 32 goals in 18 games to lead the Capitals in goals and he finished fourth overall in league scoring in 1916. Unfortunately, his time spent playing in the NLU saw him experience something he was not familiar with back home in the Royal City: losing, as Ottawa limped to mediocre results in the standings during his two seasons. In his three seasons played in Ontario, he never saw a winning season.

Knee problems almost forced him to retire after the 1921 campaign. The legendary ‘Bun’ Clark then retired and New Westminster was suddenly left without a goalkeeper – and at one point heading into the 1922 season it appeared the 34-year-old ‘Doughy’ was going to take up business in net.

While most players are winding down their careers at this stage due to age and injuries catching up with them – and with his brother now departed from the playing field – ‘Doughy’ nevertheless persevered and saw some of his finest seasons played for the Salmonbellies in the early 1920s as the field game began to regain some of its former popularity. However, like everyone else in the professional ranks, he was sidelined when the game died in June 1924.

In other sports, Cliff Spring was an accomplished basketball player during his youth starring for local New Westminster teams (along with various lacrosse team-mates of his) from 1902 to 1908 for the Armouries and Columbian College squads – winning a provincial title in the 1907-08 season. After he moved to Abbotsford, he once again took up the hooped game and played the occasional game representing his new home town.

His only known dalliance with Canada’s “other” national pastime saw him, somehow managing to slip under the radar as an amateur, suit up as the goaltender for an ice hockey team from the rural Alberta town of Three Hills during the winter of 1918-1919.

At the age of 46 and ten years away from the game, ‘Doughy’ Spring took advantage of the reinstatement of the former professional players into the amateur ranks to sign with the New Westminster Adanacs of the Inter-City Lacrosse League in 1934. Making the transition now from field to box lacrosse, he managed to score 9 goals in his 7 games with the Adanacs.

The following season, now playing for his brother ‘Grumpy’ who managed the Salmonbellies, Cliff found his old form as he racked up 49 goals and 8 assists in 18 games for New Westminster. He played one last game for the Salmonbellies in 1936 before calling it quits and hanging up the gutted stick for good.

Cliff ‘Doughy’ Spring was an obvious choice for charter membership induction to the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1965.

doughy spring stats

(PHOTO SOURCES: New Westminster Columbian May 27, 1924; CLHOF X994.31)

Johnny Howard

Johnny Howard, May 1911
Johnny Howard, with New Westminster in 1911

(March 3, 1880 – December 16, 1937)
Montréal Shamrocks (1899-1908)
Regina Capitals (1909)
Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1910)
New Westminster Salmonbellies (1911-1913; 1915; 1918)
Québec Irish-Canadians (1914)
Vancouver Terminals (1920-1921)

One of a handful of players to transcend the hated West Coast rivalry to suit up for both Vancouver and New Westminster squads, Michael John Howard – better known to fans as Johnny or ‘Mose’ Howard – was an Easterner lured west by Con Jones who then settled down on the coast.

He broke into the senior game with the Montréal Shamrocks mid-way into his teens in 1899 and became part of their dynasty of championship teams in both National Lacrosse Union league play and Minto Cup challenges. The Montréal Gazette noted in May 1907 that Howard was “considered by many to be the best point player in the country”. In total, he would win 6 Minto Cup championships during his 10 seasons spent with the Shamrocks.

In 1909, Howard was recruited by the talent-stacked Regina Capitals in their losing attempt to pry the Minto Cup away from the Salmonbellies. The Capitals originally offered $250 and all expenses paid to the Easterner – but they had to double their offer before he would agree to suit up with Regina for the series.

While watching the two-game series, Con Jones saw something in the defensemen to recruit him the following year for his own Vancouver team. Howard played one season with the Vancouver Lacrosse Club before signing with his redshirt opponents the following year.

Johnny Howard guarding the net, 1913
Johnny Howard guarding the net, 1913

New Westminster wanted him to counter ‘Newsy’ Lalonde as Howard was one of the very few players with the defensive ability and know-how to shut down Vancouver’s star goal-scorer. He replaced the point spot on the defense vacated by veteran Charlie Galbraith. Howard’s value to the Salmonbellies in 1911 was instrumental – unlike the rest of the team who were paid from a divided pool of the gate receipts at the end of the season, Howard received a $1500 contract paid by “a private individual” in lieu of Howard’s share of the gate.

In 1914, Howard was lured to the Ancient City to play for the Québec Irish-Canadians in the Dominion Lacrosse Union after the club had relocated from Montréal. After the resignation of manager Arthur Delorme a month or so into the season, and not long after his arrival, Howard was named the replacement manager and team captain. Both the team and the league would be gone by the following season – which then found Howard back playing with the Salmonbellies in New Westminster.

His final two seasons saw him return to Vancouver – retiring after the 1921 season and then becoming a referee in the professional league. He called the first 10 games of the 1922 campaign before being replaced by Harry Pickering and Gordon Spring for the remainder of the 16-game season.

A fairly clean defensive player respected for his consistent and solid play, however never backing down when the fisticuffs were involved, he appeared in 93 matches while with Vancouver and New Westminster. He played 5 seasons and 48 games with the Salmonbellies and 3 seasons and 45 games for Vancouver teams. Howard was a big and rugged defender who never let up – yet still a genuine sportsman who was admired by all, an idol to the youth who followed the game and extremely popular with the fans during the heyday of lacrosse.

Adding to his 6 Minto Cups won with the Montréal Shamrocks, he would add another two Minto Cup championships won with New Westminster, in 1912 and 1913, and his final one with Vancouver in 1920 for an impressive total of 9 Minto Cup championships.

howard gravesiteAlthough never managing to score any goals due to his deep defensive positioning as the point man – which back then had a completely different meaning, being the very last line of defense before the goaltender – he clocked up a total of 93 pro games on the Pacific Coast, ironically tying him with his on-field nemesis ‘Newsy’ Lalonde in 10th place for career games played.

He was sent off 24 times for a total of 156 penalty minutes – ranking him 15th and 17th respectively amongst the professionals on the Coast – although perhaps his lengthy career contributing more to a higher placement than would be expected from his manner of play.

In the author’s opinion, Howard is the best player from the Pacific Coast’s field era so far not inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Johnny Howard passed away suddenly from a probable heart-attack at his home in Marpole in 1937. At his funeral, former New Westminster teammates Cliff Spring and James ‘Pat’ Feeney along with Vancouver teammate Archie Adamson acted as his pallbearers.

johnny howard stats

(PHOTO SOURCES: CVA 99-41; CVA Sp P71; author’s photograph)

Thure Storme

Thure Storme as a youngster, ca.1913.
Thure Storme as a youngster, ca.1913.

(January 1, 1894 – February 16, 1975)

New Westminster Salmonbellies (1921-1924)

Carl-Thure Storme was born on New Year’s Day of 1894 in what was then called Moodyville – but known to us today as the Lonsdale Quay neighbourhood of North Vancouver.

In his youth, he played junior lacrosse for the New Westminster West Ends between 1910 and 1912. He then joined the senior team in 1913 with whom he played the next three seasons.

Storme went overseas in 1916 while the First World War was raging across Europe. He returned home to New Westminster as an invalid from a permanent right-arm injury.

On his return, he managed to persevere and resume his lacrosse career in 1919 with the New Westminster seniors.

Thure Storme became a pro lacrosse player for the New Westminster Salmonbellies in 1921. After playing his first season as a substitute, the Dane effortlessly settled into the scoring role vacated the following year by the legendary Gordon ‘Grumpy’ Spring.

Thure Storme, 1922
Thure Storme, 1922

During his short, four-season pro career he led the Salmonbellies in goal-scoring in 1922, 1923, and 1924 and finished either second or first for goals in the league during those same years. He only played in 44 games but managed to bag 50 goals and 4 assists to finish 10th overall in career scoring and goals in the West Coast pro game.

He would later resurface in the box game when he played the 1934 season with the New Westminster Adanacs at age 40, scoring 6 goals in 7 games.

Outside of lacrosse, Thurne Storme was accomplished in many athletic pursuits. He held many track records won in high school and YMCA track meets – in events such as the quarter-mile relay, high-jump, and hop-step-jump.

He was a soccer player with the (New) Westminster United and (New) Westminster Rovers teams for three seasons between 1913 and 1915. During those same years, he was a star basketball player with New Westminster high-school and YMCA teams who completed against teams from south of the border in Washington state.

After the war, Storme continued to play soccer in 1919 and 1920 until a broken leg finished off his soccer career. Strangely enough, he managed to continue playing lacrosse and made the jump to the professional game once he recovered.

His war injury did not get in the way of his baseball career as he was a southpaw pitcher with the New Westminster Pastimes club in 1919. He was talented enough to land a spot in 1926 with an unidentified semi-pro baseball team in San Francisco – allegedly pitching 37 scoreless innings.

Thure Storme was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1971 and passed away four years later.

thure storme stats

(PHOTO SOURCES: CLHOF X979.228.1; X994.8)

Alex ‘Dad’ Turnbull

Alex ‘Dad’ Turnbull, ca.1909
Alex ‘Dad’ Turnbull, ca.1909

(December 6, 1863/1872 – August 27, 1956)

New Westminster Salmonbellies (1897-1909; 1918)

Born in either Stratford or nearby Paris, Ontario, Alex Turnbull played his earliest senior games starting in 1884 with an assortment of Toronto and area clubs. Newspapers mention such local teams as the Toronto Athletics, Paris Brants, Brockville, Perth, Toronto Junction, Toronto Elms, West Torontos, Peterboros – and then, lastly, the famous Toronto Tecumsehs.

In the fall of 1897, Turnbull moved to British Columbia to ply his trade as a typesetter – first to Rossland and then onwards to New Westminster where he played with the New Westminster Salmonbellies from 1897 until 1909 with a brief comeback in 1918. On arrival in New Westminster, he took an immediate liking to the city and soon found employment with the fire department.

A true legend on the field, ‘Dad’ was regarded, by the standards of his day, to be quite healthy for his age and a model athlete for his diet and regimen. Strong, agile, and a good sprinter, Turnbull was a fairly small player standing at 5 foot 6 inches and weighing in at 145 lbs. during his prime years. Notable for the era, he never drank and very rarely smoked and he was praised in newspapers such as the Ottawa Citizen for his temperance and “clean living”.

The story behind his nickname ‘Dad’ – obviously play on his age – is that a Vancouver Daily Province writer wished it on him in 1908 after Turnbull had helped lead the youngsters of the New Westminster Salmonbellies back east to their first Minto Cup victory.

Always drawing attention from the press for his remarkable, advanced playing age, there however appears to be some serious discrepancies reconciling the birth year of 1872 – which is the usual given year, based on handwritten notation in a Turnbull family Bible – with the start of his senior playing career in 1884.

Alex Turnbull, ca.1900-1905
Alex Turnbull, ca.1900-1905

The details regarding his early life remain mysterious as the various dates associated often do not seem to stick. The Montréal Gazette noted in a 1908 article that he was aged 44 at time of publication (on July 31, 1908) and he would be 45 as of September of that year, which would imply he was born in 1863. It also would imply a different birthdate from that of December 6. This 1863 birth year would however better correspond with his senior playing career beginning in 1884, because otherwise he would have been 12 (if born in 1872) when he started playing senior lacrosse.

Based on independent research, both the BC Sports Hall of Fame and this author came to the same conclusion: the earlier year of 1863 is more historically accurate and feasible than the family’s claim of 1872.

To add further confusion, in an Ottawa Citizen reprint of a Vancouver Daily Province interview in 1917, his age at retirement in 1910 was quoted as being 42, which he neither confirmed nor denied – and which would then imply a birth year of 1868 thereabouts. The same article stated that he started playing senior in 1886, which conflicts with other newspaper reports.

In the twilight of his career when the professional game came along, he had to stop playing in 1909 after suffering two broken ribs during a game, but made a comeback in 1918 at age 46.

In later years, he was employed as the warden at the provincial jail in New Westminster. In April 1911, he made headlines in the newspapers as far east as the Ottawa Citizen when he was accidentally shot in the leg when one of the guards’ revolvers “exploded” while on duty as deputy gaoler. He later transferred to the land registry office where he worked until his retirement in 1946.

Alex Turnbull as manager of the senior amateur Salmonbellies, ca. 1913
Alex Turnbull enjoying a rare cigar while manager of the senior amateur Salmonbellies, ca. 1913

Two years prior to his passing, he was asked for his opinion on professional sports. Still an ardent supporter for amateurism, ‘Dad’ Turnbull replied that “…the introduction of professionals killed the game for me and a lot like me because the fun went out of it.

In 1965, Alex Turnbull was posthumously inducted as a charter member to the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Two years later ‘Dad’ was inducted into the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame.

Alex Turnbull was a member of the Canadian Olympic team that won a gold medal for lacrosse at the 1908 London games. At some point during the 1970s, his gold medal from the Olympics was put on display at the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Sadly, in the early weeks of January 1980, the hall of fame fell victim to one of a co-ordinated series of museum break-ins that occurred in Vancouver and New Westminster. The Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, the Irving House Museum, the New Westminster Museum & Archives, the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame, and some other locations, all suffered break-ins which resulted in the theft of around 20 irreplaceable and priceless gold-metal items from the premises. None of these items stolen in 1980 – including Alex Turnbull’s Olympic gold medal – have ever been located or recovered. Most likely all were melted down for their gold content.

However the thieves, obviously professionals based on their co-ordinated targeting and timing, thankfully left the Mann Cup and Minto Cup unharmed during the break-in.

dad turnbull stats

(PHOTO NWCA IHP1725; CLHOF X979.214.1)

Harold ‘Haddie’ Stoddart

Harold ‘Haddie’ Stoddart
Harold ‘Haddie’ Stoddart

(January 13, 1900 – May 13, 1974)

New Westminster Salmonbellies (1920-1924)

Harold ‘Haddie’ Stoddart was born on the thirteenth day of 1900. He started playing lacrosse at age 10 as a junior and later played high school lacrosse when he was a teenager during the years of the Great War. When he was 18, Haddie started playing senior lacrosse with New Westminster and then turned pro two seasons later in 1920 with the Salmonbellies.

For his first two pro seasons, Stoddart played in what would appear to modern observers as a defensive midfielder role. But then in 1922 he switched to centreman and became one of the best midfielders for the Salmonbellies – finishing fourth in team scoring in every season from 1921 through 1924.

‘Haddie’ Stoddart was an all-round athlete but once he turned pro, he was forced to give up the rest of his amateur sporting pursuits. As well as being a star lacrosse player, he excelled at baseball and also played football and basketball. When he was 16, young enough to fall below the amateur jurisdiction requirements against pro players, he was pitching for the local semi-pro baseball club. He also gave two versions of hockey – ice and floor – a go.

During his five seasons as a pro player, Stoddart appeared in 70 matches and scored 38 goals and 45 points – ranking him 12th in career scoring for pro players on the Coast. As well, he picked up 35 penalties for 221 minutes. Statistically, his best campaign was in 1921 when he scored 14 goals in 18 games.

After the pro game collapsed and died suddenly in 1924, due to strict amateur restrictions, players like Harold Stoddart were forced out of the game, unable to play for senior amateur lacrosse teams because of them being forever tainted as ‘professionals’.

Finally in 1933, after eight seasons of watching from the sidelines, the restriction against the former pros was lifted. By this time, most of the old pro players had become too long in the tooth to play in the fast, new-fangled box lacrosse game – but at age 33, Stoddart was still young enough to have some gas left in the tank.

He signed with the New Westminster Salmonbellies of the Inter-City Lacrosse League in 1933, scoring 10 goals for them during the regular season and playoffs. The following season, ‘Haddie’ signed with the cross-town rival New Westminster Adanacs and he scored 32 goals and 18 assists in 19 games. 1935 would be his last season, scoring 20 goals and 45 points for the Adanacs.

In 1923 Stoddart married Inez Adele Collishaw, one of the sisters of the famous Canadian World War One pilot, Colonel (later Air Vice Marshal) Raymond Collishaw.

Harold Stoddart was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame as a Field Player in 1967.

haddie stoddart stats


Bill Patchell

Bill Patchell
Bill Patchell

(March 16, 1891 – June 4, 1930)

New Westminster Salmonbellies (1921-1924)

A deep defensive player who played the point and coverpoint positions around his own goal, William ‘Bill’ Patchell turned pro late in the 1921 season with the New Westminster Salmonbellies. In 26 games played across four seasons between 1921 and 1924, he bagged 2 goals and committed 12 penalties for 37 minutes. In his debut season, he won accolades and respect for his weighty body-checks and use of the lumber.

In 1928, he accompanied the Canadian Olympic team to Amsterdam to participate in the lacrosse demonstration – although he only played in the exhibition matches played en route through Eastern Canada and later in the Netherlands, as his former professional status prevented him from participating in the actual Olympic demonstration matches. Just prior to departure across the Atlantic, Gordon ‘Grumpy’ Spring had to turn back for home due to business matters and Bill Patchell took over the coaching reigns.

Bill Patchell at the 1928 Olympics
Bill Patchell at the 1928 Olympics

A native of the Sapperton neighbourhood in New Westminster, Patchell worked for the Brunette Lumber Company – officially as their sales manager, although he was practically the superintendent of the sawmill operations. Outside of lacrosse, he was known to be a keen boxing enthusiast and refereed matches.

Bill Patchell sadly succumbed to an early death at just 39 years of age. In apparent good health, he had suddenly fallen ill and was admitted to Royal Columbian Hospital. A week later and recovering from a bout of pneumonia, his doctors then advised that he needed an operation for appendicitis and should return. The operation was unsuccessful – one newspaper report stated that Patchell had returned to Royal Columbian too ill on arrival for surgery. He passed away overnight just after three o’clock in the morning.

In 2012, the 1928 Olympic team that Bill Patchell helped coach was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Bill Patchell’s stick on display at the old Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame museum
Bill Patchell’s stick on display at the old Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame museum

bill patchell stats

(PHOTO SOURCES: CLHOF X994.113; X994.16; CLHOF collection)

Alban ‘Bun’ Clark

A clash of titans, as diminutive goalkeeper ‘Bun’ Clark comes up for the save against Vancouver in 1912 - the player in white shorts leading the Greenshirts’ charge is Édouard ‘Newsy’ Lalonde, Canada’s greatest lacrosse player from 1900-1950.
A clash of titans, as diminutive goalkeeper ‘Bun’ Clark comes up for the save against Vancouver in 1912 – the player in white shorts leading the Greenshirts’ is Édouard ‘Newsy’ Lalonde, Canada’s greatest lacrosse player from 1900-1950.

(born June 5, 1883 – deceased)

Fergus Intermediates (1899-1904)
Toronto Tecumsehs (1905-1908)
Regina Capitals (1909)
Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1910-1911)
New Westminster Salmonbellies (1912-1915; 1918-1921)

For such a famous and well-regarded goalkeeper during the game’s height of popularity on the Pacific Coast, practically nothing is known about the man except some fleeting details.

Even the exact spelling of his name is somewhat of a mystery as he was universally referred by all as ‘Bun Clark’ or ‘Bun Clarke’. His given name, in the couple of instances when it appeared in the press of the day, was rendered either as Alban or Alvan – with Alban Clark assumed to be the correct spelling based on census information from 1901. Alban came from a large Scottish Presbyterian family; he was the fourth of eleven children of Forbes and Jane Clark.

An Easterner who hailed from Fergus in Wellington County, Ontario, ‘Bun’ Clark spent four seasons playing with the Toronto Tecumsehs in the Canada Lacrosse Association in 1905 and in the National Lacrosse Union from 1906 until 1908. In his three NLU seasons in goal for the ‘Indians’, he had 26 wins and 13 losses and finished in succession third, second, and first for wins in the NLU (information on his 1905 campaign in the CLA is unknown). Prior to joining the Tecumsehs, he played for his hometown team for six years and won the intermediate championship in 1902 and 1903.

‘Bun’ Clark with the Toronto Tecumsehs in 1907
‘Bun’ Clark with the Toronto Tecumsehs in 1907

In 1905, he went west with the Ottawa Capitals on their tour to British Columbia. The manager of the Capitals noted that his life on the farm while growing up in Fergus had become so ingrained in him that ‘Bun’ would go to bed at six o’clock and wake up at dawn. This farming background appears on his 1901 census where his occupation is listed as “eggpacker”.

During his tenure with the Tecumsehs, Clark was reported by the Ottawa Citizen newspaper to be “one of best” but his weakness was “an unhappy faculty to get too good natured at times” after a strong performance between the posts.

Charlie Querrie, manager of the Toronto Tecumsehs, informed Clark in 1908 that his services would not be required the following season, on account of “trouble” that had arose between the Toronto management and the goalkeeper. Clark then headed to the prairies in 1909 and made a brief stop in Saskatchewan, playing as a hired-hand for the Regina Capitals in their challenge for the Minto Cup. Traveling west with the Capitals to face the New Westminster Salmonbellies, ‘Bun’ then stayed on the coast. Due to rules made by the Minto Cup trustee related to the Regina Capitals challenge, Clark was unable to sign with another team that year that were in competition for the Minto Cup.

The following season, Con Jones, impressed by what he had seen watching the Regina matches, signed ‘Bun’ Clark for his Vancouver Lacrosse Club and the goalkeeper made his coast debut on Dominion Day of 1910. Clark had been sitting out and away from the game, at home in Walkerton, Ontario, when Jones telegrammed him with an offer in early June 1910. In the wake of Dave Gibbons (along with some other local players) going on strike for more money, Con Jones was left scrambling to find a replacement. He had given a try-out to the former Fairview Lacrosse Club intermediate champion goalkeeper G McDonald but the promising netminder was injured at the end of the practise when ‘Dude’ Sumner, another former Fairview team-mate of McDonald’s, accidentally knocked the keeper senseless with a “wicked shot” to his nose – making him unavailable for Vancouver Lacrosse Club’s next start.

Clark would play 2 seasons and 21 matches for Con Jones and the Greenshirts before signing with the Salmonbellies in 1912 as a replacement for ‘Sandy’ Gray.

‘Bun’ Clark with Vancouver, ca.1910-11
‘Bun’ Clark with Vancouver, ca.1910-11

On May 24, 1911, in the opening game of the season, he had a shutout against the Salmonbellies at Queens Park. Later that same season on June 24, during the second of the two Coronation Medals exhibition matches, he shutout New Westminster again. He would get his third shutout of 1911 when he stonewalled his former Toronto Tecumseh club in their lacklustre 5-0 loss to Vancouver Lacrosse Club in the opening game of the Minto Cup playoffs. He would later pick up his third competitive shutout – this time playing for the New Westminster Salmonbellies – in the final game of the 1919 season.

‘Bun’ Clark retired after the 1921 season when personal business took him back home to Ontario for good – by that time, he had chalked up 96 games with New Westminster over 8 seasons. His career played out over a 24 year period from 1898 to 1921 with Toronto Tecumsehs, Regina Capitals, Vancouver Lacrosse Club, and New Westminster Salmonbellies and he was the oldest pro player in the game when he left British Columbia in 1921.

During his time on the West Coast, he also attended training camps (as a goalkeeper) for the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association in the 1911-12 and 1915-16 seasons but never appeared in any league games.

‘Bun’ Clark, 1912
‘Bun’ Clark at Recreation Park – from the same 1912 game as the photo above.

He played in a total of 117 games in his 10 seasons spent out west with Vancouver and New Westminster – by far the most of any goalkeeper and more than double the number of the next closest challenger. Clark had 67 wins and 2 ties to his credit which gave him a .581 winning percentage. He saw 570 goals scored against him, which resulted in a 4.87 goals-against average. While goalkeepers such as Alex ‘Sandy’ Gray and Bernie Feedham (who succeeded him on New Westminster in 1922) may have had better winning records and goals-against averages, neither them nor any other goalkeeper in the Coast pro game had the durability of ‘Bun’ Clark.

Alban Clark married Mary Thornton in Toronto on October 17, 1927 – his occupation was listed as “grocer” on their marriage license. His marriage is the last documentation of ‘Bun’ Clark as the old, great goalkeeper then disappeared into history.

Regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers – if not the greatest – on the Pacific Coast during the field lacrosse era, ‘Bun’ Clark would become one of the inaugural inductees into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1965.


(PHOTO SOURCES: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-585; CVA 371-607; Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame CLHOF X979.132.1c2; CVA 371-595)