By John Steele and Frank Ham
Baggattaway, Tewaarathon, Deion Tshihgwah: these are all First Nation’s names for the Creators Game. Much later the Jesuits named the game lacrosse because the sticks reminded them of a Bishops crozier.
George Beers at six years of age, from Montreal, witnessing his first game of lacrosse in Kahnawake found the game exciting. Much later he would develop the first rules of lacrosse. In 1867, Six Nations defeated Toronto 3-2 in front of 4,000 spectators at the cricket grounds in north Toronto. This was the first game to be played under Beer’s new rules. Toronto soon boasted 600 players from 13 clubs. Could one of those clubs have been the Beaches?
Toronto Beaches Lacrosse Club (TBLC) played field lacrosse and may have been one of the thirteen clubs formed in1867. It is known from pictures and medals that Beaches played field lacrosse during and after the First World War. They won the intermediate championship in 1916 and the senior championship in 1918.
Field lacrosse was the only game up until the thirties when hockey’s big six club owners desperate to fill vacant arenas during the summer months developed box lacrosse. Field lacrosse soon died with all its great players playing the then more popular box lacrosse.
TBLC started minor box lacrosse in 1967, the 100th anniversary of the country and the first game played in Toronto using George Beers’ first rules. The old Kew box just off of Lee Avenue has hosted many exciting box matches in its 70 year history. It is still used today for house league lacrosse and rep team practices.
For several years most of TBLC games were played at Kew box but most of the rep games moved to the historic Ted Reeve arena. Opened in 1954, the Ted hosts Toronto Beaches Lacrosse Club minor rep teams and the Beaches Jr. A Lacrosse team. To this day, the Ted is home to exciting TBLC rep and Junior lacrosse in the spring and early summer.
Field lacrosse returned in 1993 under the direction of Karen Pitre and TBLC became one of the founding members of the Ontario Minor Field Lacrosse Association. TBLC has won provincial championships in all age groups over the past 30 years. TBLC holds the famed Jammer Classic Field Tournament every April. TBLC field teams have won in every age group in the history of the tournament.
TBLC also has had its share of famous volunteers. The Queen of volunteers, Linda Blogg, volunteered thousand of hours for lacrosse. She was a TBLC President and still is involved in the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame in Niagara. Every games needs refs and TBLC has a great one in John Dixon. He was TBLC’s Referee-in-Chief for over 30 years. Frank Ham continues to volunteer for the club. He has done it all and continues to spend countless hours on the game he loves.
For at least 100 years there has been boys playing lacrosse in Toronto’s east end. There has been many changes and many great teams and many great players. Let the tradition continue.