There is evidence that a version of lacrosse originated in Mesoamerica or Mexico as early as the 1100s
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Lacrosse style religious and/or combative events were played in many different parts of North America. Two of these, "Baggataway" and "Tewaarathon" are perhaps the most documented with Baggataway becoming a recreational game with between 60 and 100 players per side.
Jesuit Missionary Jean de Brebeuf documents the game of lacrosse (baggataway) at Georgian Bay, Ontario
There is not much early data on lacrosse and that exists (from missionaries such as French Jesuits in Huron country in the 1630s and later English explorers, such as Jonathan Carver in the mid-eighteenth century Great Lakes area) is often conflicting.
There seems to have been three basic forms of lacrosse — the southeastern, Great Lakes, and Iroquoian.
Among southeastern tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole, Yuchi and others), a double-stick version of the game is still practiced. A two-and-a half foot stick is held in each hand, and the soft, small deerskin ball is retrieved and cupped between them.
Great Lakes players used a single three-foot stick. terminating in a round, closed pocket about three to four inches in diameter, only a little larger than the ball., In this game, the ball was usually made of wood, charred and scraped to shape.
The northeastern stick, found among Iroquoian and New England tribes, is the progenitor of all present-day sticks, both in box as well as field lacrosse. The stick for this game was typically more than three feet long and—the shaft ended with a crook which supported a flat triangular surface of webbing .
Participation of French in lacrosse games noted in great lakes region:
Near present day Detroit, Monsieur de Sabrevois, commandant of Fort Pontchartrain, penned a description of the region in 1718. Referring to the Potawatomi village located near the fort, he wrote:
In summer they play a great deal at la crosse, twenty or more on each side. Their bat [crosse] is a sort of small racket, and the ball with which they Play is of very Heavy wood, a little larger than the balls we use in Tennis. ...
All this is very diverting and interesting to behold. Often one Village Plays against another, the poux [Potawatomi] against the outaouacs [Ottawa] or the hurons, for very considerable prizes. The French frequently take part in these games.
(cited in Lacrosse: Michigan's First Team Sport by Larry B. Massieas published in Michigan History Magazine, September/October 1997 available online at: LaxRules.com)
Ojibway Indians use baggataway as a cover to enter and capture Fort Michilimackinac
Match between two native groups results in creation of a basic set of rules
Caughnawaga Indians demonstrate the sport at St. Pierre to a large crowd of Montreal spectators and the game is reported by the newspaper.
He also published the first set of lacrosse rules in which the first team to score 3 goals won the match
Grand lacrosse match in honour of Prince of Wales' visit. Combined Montreal and Beaver Clubs vs Caughnawaga and St. Regis Indians
Montreal Lacrosse Club merged with Hochelaga Club to form Lacrosse Club of Montreal
Probably the first lacrosse game of 12 players per side sawThe Beaver play the Young Torontos club
Ottawa Lacrosse Club Formed
November 24, the Montreal Lacrosse Club beats the Chuawanaga Indians in three successive games to win the Canadian Lacrosse Championship
Photograph The Champion Lacrosse Club (1866), Montreal, QC, 1866
Dr. W. George Beers of the MLC rewrote the rules thoroughly in 1867. His rules called for 12 players per team, and named the positions: Goal, point, cover point, first defense, second defense, third defense, centre, third attack, second attack, first attack, out home, and in home.
Beers, who is now known as " the father of lacrosse," also replaced the hair-stuffed deerskin ball with a hard rubber ball and designed a stick that was better suited to catching the ball and throwing it accurately. This code of rules forms the foundation of the modern game of lacrosse. The first game played under Beers' rules was at Upper Canada College in 1867, with Upper Canada College losing to the Toronto Cricket Club by a score of 3–1.
Engraving Emblem of National Lacrosse Association of Canada
John Henry Walker (1831-1899) about 1867, 19th century
Captain W.B. Johnson of Montreal toured with a team of Caughnawaga Indians, appearing at Windsor Castle before Queen Victoria, who found the game “very pretty to watch.”
Photograph Caughnawaga Lacrosse Team with Dr. George Beers & Henry Beckett, about 1867
First Dominion lacrosse title contested;
Montreal Lacrosse club vs Caughnawaga with the winner (Caughnawaga) considered the World Champions
The First lacrosse "trophy" the "Claxton Flags" (officially named the "Champion Lacrosse Flags") were donated by j. Claxton for challenge competition between amateur teams of Montreal.
By November it was estimated that there wer 80 lacrosse clubs with approximately 2,000 players in Canada.
White players in Upstate New York began to play lacrosse about this time and during the 1870's several teams were organized in metropolitan New York.
First internationla lacrosse match between teams of white players; Canadian residents of Buffalo, NY played a team from Prescott Ontario.
A New York Times story of July 11th reports that the Mohawk Lacrosse Club (of Troy) and the Senior American Lacrosse Club are to appear in Montreal on the 28th to 'gain some insight' on the game as played in Montreal.
A New York Times story of August 23rd reports that "The Canada National Game of Lacrosse, which is to be played the coming week on the Capitoline Grounds, is rather difficult to describe. " Later in the story, it is allowed that the team is composed of "...young gentlemen of respectable families."
The New York Times (August 27) reports in "Outdoor Sports" that the Knickerbocker Lacrosse Club of NY faced the Toronto Club in Buffalo. Toronto took the decisive fifth game after the Knickerbocker club won the 3rd and fourth games to tie the series.
On November 25th, The New York Times reports that the Knickerbocker Club is the winner of a tournament to determine the United States Championship
Print Lacrosse Match Between the Montreal Club and Caughnawaga Indians
Anonyme - Anonymous 1870, 19th century
Photograph Montreal Lacrosse Club, Montreal, QC, 1871-72
Wm. Notman & Son
Prince Rupert's Lacrosse Club formed: the first in Manitoba
Lacrosse tried on indoor ice in a Montreal rink - the ball bounced so much that players broke $300 worth of windo panes.
Photograph Dr. Beers and H. Becket, lacrosse player, Montreal, QC, 1875
A lacrosse ball, with the top and bottom cut off, is the first recorded use of the modern form of the puck in a hockey game - until then rubber balls had been used.
(Montreal on March 3rd, 1875 @ the Victoria Rink)
Toronto Lacrosse Club defeated Montreal Shamrocks for NLA championship; this was the first NLA championship by other than a Montreal Team
Captained by Dr. W. G. Beers of Montreal, the honorary president of the National Lacrosse Association of Canada, Montreal Club with Caughnagawa Indians tour England. This tour is said to have started the game in "the old country"
Photograph Home Canadian lacrosse team, Montreal, QC, 1876
Notman & Sandham 1876, 19th century
Photograph Canadian and European Lacrosse Teams in playing positions, composite, Montreal, QC, 1876
Queen Victoria watched and "endorses" a lacrosse game in Windsor, England and is quoted as noting "The game is very pretty to watch."
In April of 1876 the pioneer of lacrosse in Victoria (and Australia as a whole) was a Canadian Lambton L Mount who had come to theVictorian goldfields as a fourteen year old with his family in 1853.
In 1875 he was moved to revive his early boyhood memories of lacrosse and thus he wrote to the Australasian Newspaper to announce that he was arranging to import forty lacrosse sticks from Canada and intended to start lacrosse and establish the Melbourne Lacrosse Club. He succeeded and the first practice match of this club took place on 22 June 1876 between 15-20 players at Albert Park.
By 1879, four clubs had been formed with some 120 players. These four clubs Melbourne, Fitzroy, South Melbourne and Carlton formed the Victorian Lacrosse Association in July 1879 for the purpose of coordinating matches and His Excellency, the Govenor of Victoria, The Most Hon G A C Phipps was the inaugural Patron.
New York University and Manhattan College played the first U. S. intercollegiate game on November 22, 1877, and other colleges in the Northeast soon took up the sport, including Boston University, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, and Stevens Institute.
The U. S. Amateur Lacrosse Association, founded in 1879, adopted the Canadian rules.
One of the first night games to be played under the new "Electric Light" was played in August of 1880 at the Shamrock Lacrosse Field in Montreal. In order to help the fans follow what was occurring on the field at night, in a second game the promoters decided to coat the ball with phosphorous.
(note the more famous first game under lights in Baseball was 50 years later in 1930!)
Engraving Emblem of Shamrock Lacrosse Club 1850-1885, 19th century
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
The first Indian Lacrosse World Cahmpionship (professional) held; won by Caughnagawa Indians.
National Lacrosse Association became an amateur organization; Indians (professionals) were barred.
The first intercollegiate tournament is held at Westchester Polo Grounds in New York
Match held between Montreal Shamrocks and the New York Lacrosse Team for the "Championship of America"
Seven colleges formed the first Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association. in the United States
Lacrosse equipment is available in Edmonton, Alberta
Philips Exeter Academy (New Hampshire) and the Lawrenceville School (New Jersey) were the USA's first high school teams in 1882.
Photograph Mr. Polin, lacrosse player, Montreal, QC, 1882 with NLA Championship Banner
Notman & Sandham February 28, 1882, 19th century
On a trip to visit the Garry Lacrosse Club of Winnipeg, the Montreal Lacrosse Club visits Chicago and St. Paul
At various times the club acknowledges pleasant memories of "fraternal courtesies" received at various times from the athletes and/citizens of New York, Boston, Portland, Baltimore, Washington, Newport, St. Albans and other places
In 1882 the National Lacrosse Association was renamed the National Amateru Lacrosse Association.
1883 edition of The Boy's Own Paper, contains a report on a three month tour of Great Britain and Ireland by a group of Canadians led by Dr. W.G. Beers of Montreal.
The tour is said to have given lacrosse "its second wind" with 60 or more clubs now in existence.
The Canadian Lacrossers from the pages of The English Lacrosse Association's website comes this fascinating glimpse into how lacrosse came to England ... by way of few visiting 'colonials' including an Iroquois professional team, that was arranged by Dr. W.G.Beers of Montreal.
Photograph Canadian lacrosse team, European competitors, Belfast, Ireland, 1883
Photograph Canadian lacrosse team and friends, Queens Hotel, Belfast, Ireland, 1883
Photograph Canadian lacrosse team, European competitors, on board the "Oregon," Belfast Lough, Ireland, 1883
Photograph Canadian and Kahnawake lacrosse teams, European competitors, Oxford, England, 1883
Photograph Canadian lacrosse team, European competitors, Scarborough, England, 1883
Photograph "Big John" and the Kahnawake lacrosse team, European competitors, Scarborough, England, 1883
Photograph Canadian and Kahnawake lacrosse teams competing at the Zoological Gardens, Clifton, England, 1883
Print Lacrosse on the Ice, on the Tank at Montreal
Anonyme - Anonymous
1870-1883, 19th century
Melbourne University Lacrosse club formed in Australia
In March, the Edmonton Lacrosse Club was organized but, because of a lack of competition, it disbanded in 1885
Lacrosse in Victoria, B.C.
Lacrosse Team in Victoria is recorded in photo available from the BC Archives. (dated Feb. 19. 1883; Photographer Spencer and Hastings)
Another tour of the British Isles by Canadian team, captained by W.G. Beers, and Indian team captained by Big John (Scattered Branches).
By arrangement with Dominion Government, tour members acted as "emigration agents" to attract settlers to Canadian West, and over 500,000 special copies of "Canadian Illustrated News" were distributed at matches, together with 150,000 sundry other publications on Canada
The Calgary Lacrosse Club was organized in 1884 with Captain Boynton serving as the club's first president. The club's membership swelled to thirty, with games among the club members being held periodically on weekends and, on several occasions, competitions took place between the citizens and the police.
After lagging interest, the Calgary Lacrosse Club was re-organized in 1887 when Mr. Boag, a teacher who was to be elected as the club's president, organized a lacrosse meeting at the school house. The Calgary Lacrosse Club operated in a local manner for several years.
Despite the 1883 picture cited above, most sources suggest that the first recorded game in British Columbia was played at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria between teams from Victoria and Vancouver
The New York Times reports that an Irish team are to meet crack players of the US and Canada and that "Great care has been shown in the selection of the Irish lacrosse team now on the Etruria, and expected here this morning. It is composed of the most prominent players of the principal clubs in Ireland. "
Canadian Lacrosse Championship (J. Allan Lowe Cup) held between C.L.A. (Wesstern Ontario) and N.A.L.A. (Eastern Ontario and Quebec)
N.A.L.A. introduced a very important rule change:
fixed time limit for lacrosse matches replaced previous "best 3 out of 5" games format.
(note: 1 goal = 1 game in the old rules)
The first lacrosse tournament was held in Kamloops with Victoria beating Vancouver in the final game.
National Amateur Lacrosse Union formed by 5 senior teams from Montreal, Toronto, Cornwall and Ontario.
N.A.L.A now controlled only junior clubs
St Leonards claims to be the first girls' school to have played lacrosse.
Records give details of the House matches played during the Spring Term 1890.
The hour long games featured teams of eight.
An earlier letter, from the schools first Headmistress, Miss Louisa Lumsden, (later to become Dame Louisa) home from White Mountains, New Hampshire that is dated September 6th 1884 tells of her visit to watch the Caughnawaga Indians, play lacrosse against the Montreal Club. In it she notes: "It is a wonderful game, beautiful and graceful. (I was so charmed with it that I introduced it at St Leonards)".
New Westminster Salmonbellies Lacrosse Club Formed
During the 1890 season, Johns Hopkins did away with the traditional long passes from defense to offense, opting instead for short passes and a greater emphasis on running while in possession of the ball.
First recorded lacrosse game in Maritimes; probably played at Saint John, N.B.
Literally days before Dr. James A. Naismith invented basketball in 1891, he tried out different sports in the Springfield College gymnasium including an attempt to play lacrosse indoors
A photo showing an early Indian team can be found in the BC Archiveshere
Western Canada Lacrosse Association Formed, for Prairie provinces
Johns Hopkins began changing their sticks to make them more position-specific: attackmen were given shorter sticks with small nets, defenders were given long sticks significantly lightened to improve speed and accuracy, and goalies were given sticks with very large nets.
The sport became quite popular in Bristol, Cheshire, Lancashire, London, Manchester , and Yorkshire, and the English Lacrosse Union was organized in 1892.
Photograph Lacrosse Club, Montreal, QC, about 1900
Important lacrosse rules changes:
goal nets introduced
"baggy" stick to permit easier catching and carrying of the ball
Lord Minto, the Governor General of Canada, donated a silver cup to become the symbol of the championship of Canada for amateur teams. Within three years the cup became symbolic of professional Champions of Canada.
The Minto Cup, today the symbol of supremacy in the Junior ranks, remains one of the proudest prizes of Lacrosse.
The Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V and Queen Mary) were present at the first game played for the Minto Cup between the Capitals of Ottawa and Cornwall in 1901
(winners Ottawa Capitals)
Ottawa Capitals defeated New York Crescents at Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo to win North American Championship
Shamrock Lacrosse Club, 1904. (with the Minto Cup)
The Champions of the World.
[Centre: Thos. O'Connell. Inside group: J. Currie, P.F. Brennan, J. Kavanagh, H. Hoobin. Outside group: E. Robinson, J. Howard, W. Hennessey, P. O'Reilley, J. Brennan, Jos. Valois, J. McIlwaine, M. Kenny, J. Hogan, H. Smith.]
A photo in the British Columbia Archives shows a 1904 Kamloops youth lacrosse team
Australia's first international lacrosse match against Canada was played at the famous Melbourne Cricket Grounds (MCG) before a crowd of 30,000
Alberta Lacrosse Association formed
Lacrosse was an Olympic sport in 1904 in London (Canada, England were the only participants). This was the first truly representative Canadian Lacrosse team.
Canada takes the Gold medal
University of Toronto lacrosse team won Intercollegiate Championship of North America (thos team on the same title in 1910)
New Westminster wins its first Minto Cup (then given to the top senior team in Canada)
Photo of the New Westminster Salmonbellies "Champions of the World" is available on the BC Archives here
The Mann Cup, donated by Sir Donald Mann, chief architect of the Canadian Northern Railway, donated a gold cup (valued at $2,500) to be awarded, as a challenge trophy for the Canadian amateur senior champion team. The first winners were Young Toronto Club.
In 1910, Glenn "Pop" Warner, Athletic Director at the Carlisle Indian School, (and now famous for the "Pop Warner Youth Football program) replaced baseball with lacrosse as the school's Spring sport because of the "evils of professional baseball" and the fact that many Carlisle Indian School students had been lured away from school into "temptations and bad company by professional baseball offers." He is also quoted as saying "Lacrosse is a developer of health and strength. It is a game that spectators rave over once the understand it." The famed US Olympic hero James Thorpe played lacrosse at the School.
Photograph Squamish Lacrosse Team 1910-1930, 20th century
Front row: M. Barr, N. Carter, A. Adamson, B. Fitzgerald, E. Lalonde, D. Phelan, S. Nichols, S. Sumner, B. Allen. Back row: H. Cowan, H. Woodman, B. West, G. Matheson, F. Ion, H. Godfrey, C. Jones, H. Pickering, H. Griffith, B. Clark, P. Muldoon, L. Yorke.
National Professional Lacrosse Union Formed
Photograph North Shore Lacrosse Team About 1912, 20th century
Girls lacrosse teams at St. Leonards have expanded to 12 a side by this time
New Westminster Salmonbellies win the first of 3 consecutive Mann Cup Championships (after a two year break they would win another 6 in a row from 1920-1925 and then win once more in 1927 before going on a decade long drought)
C.A.L.A re-formed as central controlling body to re-introduce unified rules and national championships, in effort to revive amateur lacrosse.
Mann Cup series became regular national amateur competition, alternating between east and west each year.
Rosabelle Sinclair reestablishes women's lacrosse in the United States when she starts a team at the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore.
Lacrosse was a demonstration sport at the Olympics in 1928 in Amsterdam. The New Westminster Salmonbellies field lacrosse club represented Canada with the result being a three-way, one win-one loss tie with each of the three competing teams having scored 12 goals. The U.S. suggested a three-way playoff to decide a single victor; Canada agreed but England refused. The Olympic committee then declared all three teams gold medal winners.
The Salmonbellies Olympic team toured Holland, France, Germany, Belgium, England, Scotland and the Eastern United States
(from Down Memory Lane Article -1928 Olympic Goldby Stan Shillington available on the BCLA web site here
Profile on Ab Brown, member of the New Westminster Salmonbellies
North Shore Athletics Lacrosse team
About 1930, 20th century
Gift of Squamish Indian Band Office
PhotographLacrosse team with trophy
1930-1950, 20th century
Gift of Squamish Band Office
Joseph Lacky Trophy, emblematic of North American Amateur field lacrosse championship, presented first time: won by Oshawa, Ontario team.
First box lacrosse ("boxla") league formed with 2 Ontario and 2 Montreal clubs
Although its origins are somewhat shrouded, Box Lacrosse was first played about this time. Some maintain that the game just naturally evolved around 1929 0r 1930 in Ontario when some lacrosse players in Ontario noticed hockey rinks sitting empty in the summer an moved in just to shoot the ball around. However according to Cleeve Dheenshaw (Lacrosse 100: One Hundred Years of Lacrosse in B.C. 1990. Victoria: Orca Book Publishers) some sources give the credit to a British Columbian, Jim McConaghy:
"...[Jim McConaghy] apparently read a newspaper account of lacrosse being played in Australia with just seven men a side instead of the twelve men used in Canada, and that the Australians were playing the game in an enclosed indoor box instead of outdoors. Strangely enough, the story turned out to have no shred of truth in it whatsoever, but some old-timers insist it gave McConaghy the idea to go to the Canadian Amateur Lacrosse Association in 1931 with the idea for box lacrosse,
The first box lacrosse games in BC were played at the PNE (in the old Horse Show Building) and at Queens Park Arena.
C.A.L.A adopted box lacrosse as its official game
Lacrosse was a demonstration sport at the Olympics in 1932 (Los Angeles).
The NY Times, in its May 10th edition, reports under the title "The Gentle Pastime of Box Lacrosse" that a game will be played at the Gardens between Newsy Lalonde's professional champions, the Canadians of Montreal and the Maple Leafs of Toronto.
80,000 people watched a lacrosse match between Johns Hopkins University and Canada
Promoters in Canada married the two most popular games, Lacrosse and Hockey, and created Indoor Lacrosse, also known as Box Lacrosse or Boxla. By the mid 30's the field game had been almost completely replaced by Boxla and the box version became the official sport of the Canadian Lacrosse Association.
Interest in the final game of the Mann Cup championship was so high that the final game (won by the eastern champion Hamilton Tigers) had to be moved by the Host New Westminster Salmonbellies to the Denman Arena of Frank Patrick where 11,000 fans took in the boxla match. The display of talent in this series is said to have cemented the position of Box Lacrosse in British Columbia.
Leo Nicholson made first radio broadcasts of box lacrosse in Vancouver
It was first proposed in 1963 at a Canadian Lacrosse Association Annual Meeting, and adopted at the next CLA AGM. It was registered with the BC Societies Act in 1965. At the CLA AGM in Montreal on January 19, 1966, forty-eight first members were inducted to the Hall.
As a result of continued effort by Jack Fulton, supported by Harry McKnight and Don Benson, the official opening of the Hall as part of New Westminster Parks Board, took place on May 17, 1967.
Professional lacrosse league formed with 8 teams
First National PeeWee Tournament
For the first time, organized lacrosse leagues in all provinces and both territories
Oshawa, Ontarion, team won Minto Cup for record seventh consecutive year
Second ILF sanctioned World Cup held in Melbourne Australia
Canada tied second (with Australia and England)
Eagle Professional Box Lacrosse League Formed
First official Canaian Girl's Lacrosse Championship held in Toronto
Box Lacrosse was the demonstration sport at the Commonwealth Games held in Edmonton with Canada, England, Australia, and New Zealand participating.
Third ILF Sanctioned World Cup Held in Manchester, England
Canada placed first
First World Box Lacrosse Championship - 'Nations in 80 held in Vancouver
Canada West (Coquitlam Adanacs) placed first
Fourth ILF sanctioned World Cup held in Baltimore, Maryland
Canada placed third
First Senior Women's World Cup held in Nottingham, England
Canada placed third
Field Lacrosse was the demonstration sport in the Olympic Games held in Los Angeles
Major Indoor Lacrosse League formed in eastern USA
Fifth ILF sanctioned World Cup held in Toronto
Canada placed second
Second Senior Women's World Cup held in Philadelphia, USA
Canada placed fourth
First International Junior Men's World Cup held in Adelaide, Australia
Canada placed second
Third Senior Women's World Cup held in Edinburgh, Scotland
Canada placed fourth
Sixth ILF Sanctioned World Cup held in Perth, Australia
Canada placed second
Second International Junior Men's World Cup held in New York
National Lacrosse League (NLL) four team circuit formed in Ontario
Fourth Senior Women's World Cup held in Edinburgh, Scotland
Canada placed fourth
Parliaments proclaims Lacrosse Canada's National Summer Sport (Bill C-212)
Field Lacrosse was the demonstration sport at the Commonwealth Games (held in Victoria)
Seventh ILF Sanctioned World Cup held in Manchester, England
Canada placed third
Fifth Senior Women's World Cup held in Haverford, USA
Canada placed fourth
Third Junior Men's World Cup held in Tokyo, Japan
Canada placed third
ILF sanctioned World Cup held in Baltimore, Maryland
Canada placed second (losing by one goal in overtime)
The IFWLA World Cup is played in High Wycombe, England where the U.S. defeated Australia for the cup
The International Lacrosse Federation World Championship is played in Perth, Australia. The U.S. defeats Canada for the championship.
The ILF and IFWLA U-19 World Championships are held in Towson, Maryland
The World Indoor Lacrosse Championship was contested by six nations at four sites in Ontario, Canada.
Canada won the championship in a final game against the Iroqouis, 21-4.
The IFWLA World Cup is played in Annapolis, Maryland (U.S.) and won by Australia, which defeated the U.S. 14-7 in the gold medal game.
The International Lacrosse Federation World Championship is played in London, Ontario (Canada). Canada wins the title with a 15-10 victory over the U.S. in the gold medal game, snapping the American men's 38-game winning streak, dating back to 1978.
The 2007 WILC was held in Halifax, Canada. Teams from Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, England, Ireland, Iroquois Nationals, Scotland and the United States competed.
The Canadian team beat the Iroquois Nationals, 15-14 in overtime for the championship