Tag Archives: Vancouver Greenshirts

Ed ‘Cotton’ Brynjolfson

‘Cotton’ Brynjolfson (right) and Vancouver manager Con Jones in 1915.

EDWARD (ED) ‘COTTON’ BRYNJOLFSON
(March 11, 1891 – April 17, 1967)

Vancouver Athletics (1914)
Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1915)
Vancouver ‘Greenshirts’ (1918)

Born as Eggert Thorarini but known to all as ‘Cotton’, Ed Brynjolfson was regarded as the best known and most talented lacrosse player originating from Victoria in the pre-box lacrosse era – his fellow Icelander teammate ‘Boss’ Johnson perhaps the only other Island player from that era who could challenge him for ability and fame in the game.

‘Cotton’ generally played third defense (a midfield position) where he would set up many of his team’s offensive plays. During his short professional career, however, he was usually slotted into the inside home position on the attack as a replacement for ‘Newsy’ Lalonde. When Lalonde returned to the Coast in 1918 to play with Vancouver, ‘Cotton’ shifted back to his familiar place on the midfield defense.

In his brief career as a professional, ‘Cotton’ Brynjolfson played in 21 matches for Vancouver over the course of three seasons. He scored 12 goals, good enough for a midfielder but not particularly high numbers for his role as a crease attackman. In just one game did he manage to score a pair of goals.

It is intriguing why a rookie, defensive midfielder such as Brynjolfson would have been used  up front as an attackman when there were already better suited players on the Vancouver squads who could have stepped into the role – such as ‘Dot’ Crookall in 1914, and then in 1915, the veteran legend ‘Bones’ Allen as well. Granted those 1914 and 1915 Vancouver teams were thinner for talent compared to most years in the professional era, but both the Athletics management and then Con Jones the following year must have seen or known something of ‘Cotton’ Brynjolfson’s ability which is subsequently lost amongst the stats, as his scoring numbers are on the low side for an inside home player.

Brynjolfson served in the Canadian Navy during the Great War and his military service automatically reinstated his amateur status when he was discharged.

Foundation Shipyards team that won the Mann Cup for Victoria in 1919; Brynjolfson can be seen in the back row, third from right.

He joined the Foundation Shipyards Company and helped organise and manage a senior lacrosse team sponsored the same company. The Victoria Foundation Shipyards club won the Pacific Coast Amateur Lacrosse Association league, brushing aside both the New Westminster Salmonbellies and Vancouver Athletic Club in the process with a 6-win, 1-loss record. The Foundation club then routed the Edmonton Eskimos 28-5 in a two-game, total-goals series before dispatching the Winnipegs 17-7 in the championship game for the Mann Cup – Victoria’s first Mann Cup championship.

In May 1921, he was close to returning to professional lacrosse and signing with the Vancouver Terminals. He later would play four years of field lacrosse with the Sons of Canada club before he retired as a player around 1928.

‘Cotton’ Byrnjolfson as he appeared in the Victoria Daily Colonist in 1931.

At the age of 40, Brynjolfson was approached in 1931 to sign as a player in the brand-new International Professional Lacrosse League but he declined all offers, believing himself done as a player. He would later become a referee when the game went indoors, and in the war years of the 1940s he refereed senior games in the Greater Victoria Box Lacrosse Association.

Outside of lacrosse, he was an avid rugby player with the James Bay Athletic Association for eleven years. He also played some soccer with local teams in Victoria.

One of ten children, Ed Brynjolfson later became related to the family of his former Vancouver lacrosse manager, Con Jones, when one of his sisters married Jones’s second son, Dill Jones, in 1960.

While ‘Cotton’ was well known in Victoria for his lacrosse exploits, two of his brothers also gained some fame in the realm of sports: His brother Harold was the 1931 amateur golf champion of British Columbia while Walter scored Canada’s only points, a drop goal, against the famous New Zealand All Blacks rugby team during their 1925 tour.

(PHOTO SOURCE: courtesy of John Fuller family collection; Victoria Daily Colonist August 19, 1931)

Special thanks to John Fuller (Brynjolfson’s grand-nephew) for providing biographical information and photograph.

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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 played at least one season of intermediate lacrosse with the Vancouver Maple Leafs in 1908.

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 as an intermediate player with the Vancouver Maple Leafs in 1908.

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 SOURCES: CVA 99-1019 excerpt; CLHOF collection)

Con Jones

Con Jones, 1913
Con Jones, 1913

CON JONES
(August 13, 1869 – June 3, 1929)

For such a major figure in the early Vancouver sports scene, the details are few and far between on Con Jones. Nothing is known of his early life except that he was born on August 13, 1869 and originally hailed from the Woollahra suburb of Sydney in New South Wales. Some accounts say Jones had been a bookie in his native Australia – others say that he later became a bookie here.

What is known for certain is that he arrived in Vancouver in November 1903 and in the years that followed, he opened up a tobacconist’s, the Brunswick pool hall, some bowling alleys, and a café.

Jones marketed his tobacco under the brand name of “Don’t Argue”, which had one of the most unique business logos ever: a guy in a bowler hat confidently muffling another man in the face. The store motto was “Don’t Argue, Con Jones Sells Fresh Tobacco” and it may have featured the first neon sign in Vancouver – sporting his famous “Don’t Argue” logo. There is strong evidence hinting that Jones surreptitiously “borrowed” the slogan and imagery which was also used by Hutton’s Hams & Bacons in his native Australia.

Within two years of his arrival he became one of Vancouver’s leading sports promoters. Jones started out with billiards; one of his first promotions was offering up a trophy for the BC Amateur Championship in May 1904 – but his first loves would become soccer and lacrosse, and he would spend big bucks to promote them both.

His association with lacrosse begun around 1907, possibly sooner, and Con Jones was a key influence in the formation of the British Columbia Lacrosse Association pro league in 1909 (no relation whatsoever to the modern BCLA provincial organisation). Two years later he lured lacrosse star ‘Newsy’ Lalonde to Vancouver in 1911 by offering him $3,500 to $5,000 for a single season, an astronomical sum for its day. (The actual amount Newsy earnt varies depending on sources).

Around 4,000 spectators showed up to witness Vancouver’s debut at Hastings Park on May 31, 1913. On this site, Con Jones would build the stadium that would bear his name.
Around 4,000 spectators showed up to witness Vancouver’s debut at Hastings Park on May 31, 1913. Across the road from this site, Con Jones would later build the stadium that would bear his name.

Jones loved sports so much he built his own stadium on the two-block Hastings athletic grounds that were located on Renfrew Street across from the PNE grounds. His lacrosse team vacated Recreation Park downtown and moved to the athletic grounds in 1913, and Jones would later construct a grandstand, which soon acquired the name ‘Con Jones Park’. Today the site is called Callister Park – although his wooden stadium is long gone (demolished in 1971). As well as benefiting the professional game, he helped build the amateur game at a local level by donating sticks and equipment to youngsters in the public schools.

After running into a scheduling dispute with New Westminster in July 1913, the Salmonbellies walked off the field in protest. Jones pulled the plug on his Vancouver team, refunding $5,000 in ticket revenue to disappointed fans as the sport skidded into the doldrums.

He would return to lacrosse in 1915, after the Vancouver Athletics had floundered the year before as a replacement for his old club. However, Jones himself would soon fall into financial difficulties. With the Vancouver club mired in debt to the amount of $2,300 just two months into the season, Jones showed his accounting books to the Vancouver players and stated he would not be paying them for the rest of the season. The three Easterners that he had imported in for the 1915 season packed up and left for home the following week.

The Great War would then make the 1916 and 1917 lacrosse seasons two of its many casualties as play was suspended due to the war effort.

“Don't Argue, Con Jones Sells Fresh Tobacco”
“Don’t Argue! Con Jones Sells Fresh Tobacco”

By the time pro lacrosse was revived in 1918, it had lost its primacy in the hearts of Vancouver’s sports fans. Jones’ own interest in the pro game would sour again after the 1918 season when his Vancouver team won the Mainland Lacrosse Association and claimed the Minto Cup. However, the New Westminster Salmonbellies then claimed the following year – conveniently after they had lost the cup series – that they had never fielded a team and rejected Vancouver’s claims for the Minto Cup.

While the early 1920s would see the game regain some traction amongst fans, it never flourished at the same dizzying level as it did under Jones’ heyday during the decade prior. In the meantime, out of disgust with the recent situation with New Westminster, Jones turned his attention to supporting the amateur game.

In late September and October of 1920, Jones met with his former star-player Billy Fitzgerald to lay out some plans to field a team to play against a Vancouver team involving Jones. Although never progressing beyond talk, conflicting and muddled news reports hinted that Fitzgerald would either organise and manage an unidentified eastern team to play a twelve-game schedule versus Vancouver or he would organise a Seattle lacrosse team to play in an ‘international league’ involving Vancouver and Montréal. Whether the failure of this international league bankrolled by Con Jones later lent weight to his Pacific Coast Lacrosse Association venture the following year involving Vancouver and Victoria (of which Billy Fitzgerald was a member), is unknown.

When he returned to the professional game in 1921, what seem like a repeated occurrence over the years, constant disputes with the Salmonbellies, struck yet again. New Westminster refused to play against a Jones team, so this time Jones simply walked with his players and formed his own new league, the Pacific Coast Lacrosse Association, with Victoria as the token opposition. But his new venture was short-lived and floundered after just 5 games. Despite importing easterners to stock the teams, Victoria was hopelessly outclassed and the PCLA quickly proved futile.

Jones found himself returning to the British Columbia Lacrosse Association in 1924 after coming to an agreement with New Westminster over organisation for the upcoming season.

Con Jones with his talent-laden Vancouver Lacrosse Club, 1913
Con Jones with his talent-laden Vancouver Lacrosse Club in 1913

Sadly, just as Con Jones had a hand in building up the professional game in Vancouver, he would have a hand in its demise in that city, and ultimately in Canada – as its last bastion was on the Pacific Coast.

In June 1924, four games into the season, Jones suddenly and without warning threw in the towel.

Like a “bolt from the blue”, as one newspaper commented, Jones was forced to quit the game on his doctor’s orders. When local baseball legend Bob Brown then offered to step in and take Jones’s place leading the Vancouver club, the rescue attempt was quickly quashed when Jones flatly refused to allow his park to be used free of charge to help keep the national game alive.

As the Vancouver Province stated: “And that’s that. Con Jones is through.” – and so died the last remnants of the pro lacrosse game in Canada.

Jones was watching a soccer game at Con Jones Park when he suffered a stroke. Five days later, he suffered another attack and passed away at nine o’clock in the morning of June 3, 1929 at the age of 59. He was survived by his wife, four sons, and a daughter. His mausoleum is located at Ocean View Cemetery in Burnaby, British Columbia.

In 1965, in recognition of his status as a builder of the game, Con Jones was named one of the charter inductees in the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

(PHOTOS CVA99-35; CVA371-576)