THOM RACINE: Memories of lacrosse

THOM RACINE: Memories of lacrosse
William J. Wagoner

With Lacrosse season right around the corner, I thought I would go deep into the history books this week. There is no doubt the game of lacrosse has very deep roots, especially in this area.

One only has to look at the names in our hall of fame under the lacrosse category to realize that the game was played by many and played very well. 49 players make up that list from gold medalist John Broderick, to the great Tony Wheeler and how many of you reading this know that Montreal Canadiens great “Newsy” Lalonde was an exceptional player who is a member of not only the Hockey Hall of Fame, but the Lacrosse Hall as well. While Lalonde’s exploits are truly stuff of legends, he was not born until 1892? The Indians of St. Regis surely had an influence on the game in this area and there was a league that included teams from St. Regis, Alexandria, St. Andrews and Cornwall at the turn from the nineteenth to twentieth centuries.  Yet, as I scour the books, old newspapers, attic’s and trunk’s of this cities vast sporting history, every now and then a real gem turns up.

When researching for my book a few years ago, I found some great little snippet’s of lacrosse history in the “Down the Lane” historical biography of the early years of Cornwall life. Memorable friendly’s, played during family outings and city picnic’s organized on Sunday afternoon’s on Calquhoun Island.

There was no doubt, if you were able, you played lacrosse in heated rivalries or just to pass the afternoon away. A little over a month ago Mike Davies contacted me asking if I had any information on his Baseball playing great uncle Harry Liddell. Mike knew a little from stories passed down of his “Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame” member, uncle Harry, and advised he was in possession of a few neat things his uncle had passed down. One such “thing” was this fabulous old picture, that really does speak a thousand words.

Known as the picture of the First Twelve -1868 Cornwall Lacrosse Club and taken by J W Weber Photography of Cornwall, it measures about 14”x17” and rare for pictures of this vintage, the names of the twelve including their Captain or Coach are included. Hard to see in this copy, each player has a number written on the front of their shirts that coincides with the numbers and names on the edges of the photo. As well, we often see the simple side of the early sporting life in these old photo’s, in this case each player is wearing a belt with CLC emblazoned on the buckle. On the left side, propped atop the draped plinth (pedestal) appears to be a medal. Are they the first twelve, the first ever Cornwall Lacrosse team? If they are, what a legacy they began.

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