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The Mainland Lacrosse Association was
formed in 1918 with New Westminster and Vancouver as a pro league
replacement to the inactive British Columbia Lacrosse Association.
However a year later at the BCLA Annual
Meetings held on May 8 and 15, 1919, the Minto Cup Trustees and British
Columbia Lacrosse Association refused to recognise the results of the
Mainland Lacrosse Association series as being official. Vancouver had
won the eight-game series but would not be awarded the Minto Cup.
Vancouver claimed that they were in perfect order to organise a new
league in lieu of the BCLA, which had suspended operations for the
duration of World War One. New Westminster disagreed and claimed
(somewhat well after the fact) that their club did not actually operate
The professional British Columbia Lacrosse
Association resumed play that season with the New Westminster
Salmonbellies and the Vancouver Terminals – a new club founded by Pete
Muldoon and Harry Pickering on May 19, 1919. In the meantime, out of
disgust with the recent situation with New Westminster, Con Jones walked
away from the pro game and turned his attention to supporting the
A year later, in 1920, the May 24 game saw
the largest crowd turnout in New Westminster since the heady days of
1911. The Dominion Day match-up saw the novelty of four movie cameras in
attendance along with numerous fans from Vancouver Island and from as
far as Seattle and Tacoma. The large crowds continued throughout the
In late September and October of 1920, Con
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.
May 1921 saw the formation of a second
professional club in Vancouver – the Vancouver Lacrosse Club, fronted by
Con Jones – after a large majority of the players with the Vancouver
Terminals bolted the team due to money issues. After the New Westminster
Salmonbellies declared their refusal to play Jones’s new team and
stated they would only compete against the Terminals for the Minto Cup,
Jones responded by forming a Victoria club and starting up a second,
professional league for his team to play in.
This new league was called the Pacific
Coast Lacrosse Association (different from the amateur PCALA in
existence at the same time) and consisted of the new Vancouver Lacrosse
Club and Victoria Capitals. With two professional leagues in operation
simultaneously, as many as 16 players were recruited from Ontario – the
majority signing with the Vancouver Terminals in the BCLA as
replacements for those players lost to the Vancouver Lacrosse Club team
in the PCLA. Victoria Capitals also benefited from the influx of
Easterners to buttress their roster. Amongst all this roster movement,
only New Westminster seemed unaffected.
However, soon after the PCLA played its
first game, it was obvious to all that Victoria was seriously outclassed
and talks began to merge into a three-team league with two Vancouver
clubs and the Salmonbellies. No merger agreement was able to be worked
out – and after five games into the season, the PCLA disbanded on June
13, 1921. Four days later, the Vancouver Lacrosse Club applied to join
the BCLA but their request was denied. As the rest of the BCLA season
played out, some Vancouver players in the PCLA eventually made their way
back to their original BCLA club from which they had departed.
BCLA league became a fatality in September 1923 with two games
remaining to be played; like many previous seasons lost during
mid-season, it was due to a grievance over scheduling.
As with every other season before, 1924
started with a lot of promise. But in the end, it proved to be the final
curtain call when professional lacrosse in British Columbia died an
inglorious death on June 3, 1924. 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. 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.
(PHOTO SOURCES: NWMA IHP0371; CVA 99-905; CVA 99-1018.8 )