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Tom Rennie

CVA Sp P91 Tom Rennie
There are not many good photographs existing for Tom Rennie. This one dates from 1910.

TOM RENNIE
(1883/84 – November 21, 1960)
New Westminster Salmonbellies (1903-1915)

Tom Rennie was born in Newcastle, New Brunswick. He moved to New Westminster with his family in 1889 by way of Seattle.

He played for Sapperton in the city intermediate league and went east with the Salmonbellies in 1901 as a spare. He was a reserve for the seniors in 1902 and joined the New Westminster Salmonbellies fulltime in the following year at the tender age of 19. Even before turning senior, Tom and his brother George were decent enough junior players that the Vancouver Daily World observed on October 4, 1901 that “the Rennie boys showed up much better than several of the older players” in New Westminster’s losing effort that day versus the Vancouver YMCA team.

Rennie started out at inside home but as the Montreal Gazette observed, this was “…a mistake as his position is farther out” in the midfield, and he played like a midfielder out of position as he moved the ball outside to work it around instead of driving at the net.

He missed six weeks of the season in 1910 when he ran into a hard body check by Johnny Howard and fractured his shoulder blade as a result. He then injured himself again during a practice in August after returning, missing yet several more weeks.

He moved to the United States in 1913 and worked as a lineman on large construction projects – leaving the Royal City on a bad note when striking electricians were replaced by outsiders. “Never again,” he exclaimed to the attendant media as he boarded the train south.

Tom Rennie played seven seasons during the professional era in New Westminster – scoring 13 goals during the course of 73 games. He generally played on the defensive side of the midfield, although in 1914 and parts of the 1909 and 1912 seasons he covered the role of the team’s centerman.  His career 38 penalties and 235 minutes placed him in the top-ten list for most penalised professional players on the Pacific Coast.

tom rennie 1912 game
Rare photograph of Tom Rennie in action during a 1912 game at Recreation Park.

He was discharged from the United States Army in August 1919 and took a train from Philadelphia back to New Westminster, sparking rumours he may be returning to the field for the Salmonbellies. He discounted such rumours in correspondence with his old home town, stating “I am one of the few who quit while they were still champions”.

He became seriously ill with smallpox in January 1924 while living in Los Angeles, but a month later he make a suitable enough recovery to be involved, along with his brother-in-law Gordon ‘Dode’ Sinclair, and such ex-Vancouver players as Jake Davis, Vernon Green (the central figure involved in the 1908 gunshot riot at Queens Park), and Charlie ‘Smiler’ McCuaig, with the introduction of the sport to Southern California.

Although a four-team league was planned, ultimately a two-team championship was played between the Long Beach and Los Angeles Canadian-Californian teams, with Tom Rennie as the referee.

He was residing in Southgate, California at the time of his father’s passing in early January 1941.

Tom Rennie passed away in Seattle, his home for the last twenty years of his life, on November 21, 1960 after a long illness. He was survived by his wife Gertrude and his son Robert.

(PHOTO SOURCE: CVA Sp P91 excerpt; CVA 371-585 excerpt)

tom rennie stats

George Rennie

George Rennie, 1911
George Rennie, 1911

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 he 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.

(PHOTO SOURCE: CVA 99-41)