Tag Archives: Vancouver Athletics

Bill Peacock

Bill Peacock in 1912.
Bill Peacock with the Vancouver Athletic Club in 1912.

WILLIAM ‘BILL’ PEACOCK, JNR.
(birth and death dates unknown)

Vancouver Athletic Club (1910-1913)
Vancouver Athletics (1914)
Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1915; 1921)
Vancouver ‘Greenshirts’ (1918)
Vancouver Terminals (1919-1920; 1923)

One of the many obscure and now-forgotten players that made up the various Vancouver professional lacrosse teams in the post-Great War period, there are but just a few facts known about Bill Peacock.

His father, Bill Peacock, Senior was quoted in the Victoria Daily Colonist newspaper as his son having “the earmarks of a great home fielder”.

He played intermediate for Vancouver as early at 1908 and was playing senior by 1910, when the Vancouver Athletic Club managed to outmaneuver Con Jones in signing Peacock when VAC club secretary Hec Fowler and trainer Jocko Vinson managed to convince the youngster to sign with their club.

Bob Murray and Peacock would battle between themselves for the second home spot on the midfield line for two years running in 1912 and 1913, although Peacock was capable of playing in all the various home midfield positions. Later in his professional career, Peacock mostly played as a substitute in his last three seasons.

Outside of lacrosse, the only mention of him is that he may have played juvenile field hockey in 1905 for Nanaimo – or, at least, someone with the same name as his.

In total, Bill Peacock played in 62 professional matches and scored 35 goals in the course of 8 seasons – which puts him in 16th place for career scoring during the professional era on the Coast and ahead of Canadian lacrosse hall-of-fame midfielders Ernie Murray and Hugh Gifford. He was on the (contested) 1918 and 1920 Minto Cup championship teams for Vancouver and he may have as many as three or four Mann Cup championships to his name with the Vancouver Athletic Club.

His best season was in 1921 when he bagged 8 goals playing in the brief, rival Pacific Coast Lacrosse Association and was sitting in second place for goals with Vancouver Lacrosse Club and in the league at the time it folded in mid-season. When playing in his prime years in the pro British Columbia Lacrosse Association, he would usually finish anywhere between second and fifth in goal-scoring for Vancouver.

(PHOTO SOURCE: CVA99-1019 excerpt)

bill peacock stats

Dave Gibbons

Dave Gibbons, ca. 1909-1910
Dave Gibbons, ca. 1909-1910

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.

Dave Gibbons in 1905.
Dave Gibbons in 1905.

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 meaningful 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.

Dave Gibbons prior to a game at Athletic Park in 1921, his final season.

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.

(PHOTO SOURCES: source unknown; CLHOF X994.204 excerpt; CVA 99-905 excerpt; author’s photograph)

Harry ‘Fat’ Painter

Harry Painter with the Vancouver Athletic Club in 1912.
Harry Painter with the Vancouver Athletic Club in 1912.

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.

‘Fat’ Painter with the Vancouver Athletic Club in 1913.
‘Fat’ Painter with the Vancouver Athletic Club in 1913.

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.

(PHOTO SOURCE: CVA 99-1019 excerpt; CVA 99-31 excerpt)

Charlie ‘Smiler’ McCuaig

Charlie McCuaig in 1912.
Charlie McCuaig in 1912.

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.

(PHOTO SOURCE: CVA 99-1019 excerpt)

Harry Pickering

Harry Pickering, 1912
Harry Pickering, 1912

HARRY SHERMAN PICKERING
(February 18, 1881 – October 8, 1936)

Toronto Tecumsehs (1906-1908)
Ottawa Capitals (1909)
Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1910-1913; 1915)
Vancouver Athletics (1914)
Vancouver Greenshirts (1918)
Vancouver Terminals (1919-1920)

Born in Mount Forest, a small community located in Wellington County, Ontario, Harry Pickering played seven years of lacrosse as a youngster with the Mount Forest teams.

The Vancouver Daily Province remarked at the time of his passing, in 1936, that Pickering – “who will go down in history as one of the smoothest, toughest defencemen that game has known” – had honed his skills while playing in the sandlots of Toronto and was then spotted by Toronto Tecumsehs manager Charlie Querrie. However, this conflicts with more contemporary knowledge about him, as this embellished story in his obituary takes no account of his experience in Mount Forest and he played a year with Chatham in the intermediate series before the Toronto Tecumsehs signed him in 1906 to play third defence.

On September 22, 1906, he married 19-year-old Mary Colquhoun in York, Ontario.

After three seasons with the Tecumsehs and winning the National Lacrosse Union championship with them in 1906 and 1908, Pickering was playing at his peak. He changed teams in 1909 when he signed with the Ottawa Capitals – trading in three winning seasons for an atrocious, last-place finish. Regina Capitals tried unsuccessfully to sign him that same year for their ensemble challenge against the New Westminster Salmonbellies for the Minto Cup.

Pickering was signed by Con Jones in September 1909 to play for Vancouver Lacrosse Club in exhibition matches played during the BC Provincial Exhibition held the following month. He would remain on the Pacific Coast with Vancouver for the next dozen years – first as a leading veteran player with Vancouver and then later in a player-manager capacity when Con Jones bowed out of the game.

He was reported by the Ottawa Citizen to be the highest paid player with Vancouver in 1910 however other newspaper sources state that he received the same $50 per week wage as the other Eastern imports that same season.

There were rumours of him returning to Ottawa in 1911 for business reasons however he remained on the Pacific Coast. The following season Pickering was rumoured to be signing with a Toronto team.

Con Jones pulled the plug on his Vancouver Lacrosse Club team and withdrew from the league in July 1913 after a dispute over scheduling with the Salmonbellies. Harry Pickering was a member of a four-player committee along with ‘Newsy’ Lalonde, Harry Griffiths, and Harry Godfrey who then took control over the team when Jones quit but the quartet were unable to keep the club running nor resume the season.

When the Vancouver Athletic Club made the move to the professional ranks the following year, as a replacement for Jones’s club, Pickering was one of a handful of ex-VLC players who joined up with VAC. Sadly the Athletics’ season fared just as poorly on the field and at the gate as their predecessors had the year before, as the 1914 professional campaign collapsed after just 6 games.

With the Vancouver teams, he played the position of what would, in the modern game, be regarded as a defensive midfielder. He appeared in 78 games for Vancouver in his 9 playing seasons on the Coast. After Con Jones quit the professional game (once again) after the 1918 season, Harry Pickering took over as manager for the Vancouver Terminals for three seasons from 1919 to 1921. He won three Minto Cup championships – all with Vancouver – in 1911, the disputed 1918 series, and in 1920.

In April 1915, Pickering made an interesting statement which appeared in the Montréal Journal of Commerce, observing the climatic differences that Eastern and Western players faced and the bearing on their game. While not expressly pointing out what those differences were, Pickering stated that “a team going to the coast should either play the day after their arrival, or wait a couple of weeks. The difference in climate makes the players sleepy.

He retired after the 1920 season due to shoulder problems and moved into the referee ranks. He refereed in the 1923 Mann Cup series between Victoria Capitals and New Westminster Salmonbellies as the two divisional champions of the British Columbia Coast Lacrosse Association met for the gold trophy.

Pickering passed away at the general hospital in New Westminster on October 8, 1936 after a prolonged illness. He had been coach of the Richmond Farmers in the Inter-City Lacrosse League in the 1936 season until poor health forced him out of the game.

Harry Pickering was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame as a charter member in the Field category in 1965.

(PHOTO SOURCE: detail from CVA99-43)

harry pickering stats

Byron ‘Boss’ Johnson

Byron ‘Boss’ Johnson as the Premier of British Columbia
Byron ‘Boss’ Johnson as the Premier of British Columbia

BYRON INGEMAR ‘BOSS’ JOHNSON (BJÖRN “BJÖSSI” JÓNSSON)
(December 10, 1890 – January 12, 1964)

Victoria Capitals (1910-1911)
Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1913; 1915)
Vancouver Athletics (1914)

Although now remembered as British Columbia’s 24th Premier from 1947 to 1952, in his younger days ‘Boss’ Johnson also had a brief stint as a pro lacrosse goalkeeper for Vancouver.

Born in Victoria to Icelandic parents, his nickname ‘Boss’ was not reflective of his personality temperament but rather stemmed from his heritage with the anglicisation of his original Icelandic birth-name, “Björn” – or “Bjössi”, which is roughly translated as ‘Little Björn’ – or in English: ‘Little Byron’.

Neighbourhood children couldn’t pronounce Bjössi; the closest to it they could get was Boss. So ‘Boss’ he became.

Johnson was an extremely good athlete as a boy and he was eager to excel in all forms of sports he played – for example, rugby is noted as one of his interests – but it was lacrosse that became his primary focus and first love on the playing field. After playing lacrosse for various teams at the scholastic level, he turned senior with Victoria Capitals in the Pacific Coast Amateur Lacrosse Association before then making the jump to professional in 1913, playing parts of three seasons for an assortment of Vancouver squads.

The signing of ‘Boss’ Johnson in 1913 was big news in his hometown of Victoria. Here he appears in the Victoria Daily Colonist.
The signing of ‘Boss’ Johnson in 1913 was big news in his hometown of Victoria. Here he appears in the Victoria Daily Colonist.

He signed with the Vancouver Lacrosse Club late in the 1913 season as a replacement for the future hall-of-fame goalkeeper Cory Hess. Con Jones was keen on the Victorian youngster and spent the better part of two months pursuing the reluctant keeper. Johnson tried out for Vancouver at the end of June and won unanimous praise from the likes of national stars such as ‘Newsy’ Lalonde and Nick Carter, in their opinion harder to beat than ‘Bun’ Clark, one of the best in the land at the time.

Finally Jones managed to induce him to sign when he offered him a 10-game contract paying $1200, but ‘Boss’ only managed to play in 2 matches before league play collapsed and folded for that year.

Whether by coincidence or by design, Johnson made his debut in the first professional match ever played in his hometown of Victoria – narrowly losing 5-4 to the New Westminster Salmonbellies at Oak Bay.

When Johnson signed to play professional lacrosse, he was one of the most prominent and popular sports figures in Victoria and it was a major blow to the Victoria senior lacrosse team and its hopes in fielding a team that year capable enough to challenge for the Mann Cup. As well, the local rugby team would suffer on the field from the loss of its star fullback now that ‘Boss’ was prevented from participating in amateur sports of any sort.

‘Boss’ Johnson then switched ships in 1914, debunking rumours in the process that he would go East to play for the Québec Irish-Canadians of the Dominion Lacrosse Union, when he signed with the Vancouver Athletic Club. The 1913 Mann Cup champions decided to take their game to the next level, departing the senior ranks for the professional game as a replacement for the now-defunct Vancouver Lacrosse Club – with ‘Boss’ Johnson replacing yet another future hall-of-fame goalkeeper, Dave Gibbons, in the process.

‘Boss’ would make a return to Victoria when the Vancouver Athletic Club and New Westminster scheduled their June 13, 1914 match to be played at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria. Johnson and fellow Islander (and Icelander) teammate Ed ‘Cotton’ Brynjolfson both played prominent roles in front of their fellow Victorians as they helped lead the Athletics in defeating the Salmonbellies by a score of 8-7 that day.

During the 1915 season, back again with Con Jones and his revived Vancouver Lacrosse Club, ‘Boss’ found himself replaced in late June 1915 by Dave Gibbons. Johnson’s final game for Vancouver, on June 26, 1915, ended on a decidedly sour note as he was ejected from the game after a second-quarter bout with Bill Turnbull of New Westminster – with 50 minutes in penalties accumulated against him.

Very rare image of Boss Johnson and Dave Gibbons, 1915
Very rare image of Boss Johnson (left) and Dave Gibbons (right) as team-mates in 1915

As his lacrosse career ended, his military career in the Field Ambulance Corps then began. There is no mention regarding his transition away from the playing field and it is unknown whether Gibbons replaced him because of impending enlistment or due to his heated scrap with Turnbull.

In all, ‘Boss’ Johnson appeared in 13 matches during his short professional career. He managed to defeat the Salmonbellies in 5 of those games to give him a .385 winning record – no mean feat considering the chaotic organisational nature of the Vancouver squads during those immediate years. He would let in 97 goals for a 7.46 goals-against average.

Later in life, during the 1930s as his political career began to take off, he became Commissioner of Lacrosse and worked to provide playing fields and equipment for youngsters throughout British Columbia. In his final year as president of the British Columbia Lacrosse Association, 3,600 sticks and 36 sets of goal nets were distributed in 1936 under Johnson’s promotion committee.

On the playing fields of politics, Johnson led a Liberal-Conservative coalition government for five years and is primarily remembered for introducing mandatory health insurance in British Columbia and the first provincial sales tax to pay for that coverage. His government also began construction on the diking network in the Fraser Valley in the wake of the devastating 1948 floods.

Just as his stint as Premier of British Columbia would be remembered, ‘Boss’ Johnson was a transitional figure also in the game of lacrosse – a reliable player who excelled well during his time but nevertheless found himself book-ended and overshadowed by greatness that came both before and after him.

boss johnson stats