From: Old School Lacrosse by Dave Stewart-Candy
(February 18, 1881 – October 8, 1936?)
Toronto Tecumsehs (1906-1908)
Ottawa Capitals (1909)
Vancouver Lacrosse Club (1910-1913; 1915)
Vancouver Athletics (1914)
Vancouver Greenshirts (1918)
Vancouver Terminals (1919-1920)
Born in Mount Forest, a small community located in Wellington County, Ontario, Harry Pickering played seven years of lacrosse as a youngster with the Mount Forest teams. He then played a year with Chatham in the intermediate series before the Toronto Tecumsehs signed him in 1906 to play third defence.
After three seasons with the Tecumsehs and winning the National Lacrosse Union championship with them in 1906 and 1908, Pickering changed teams in 1909 when he signed with the Ottawa Capitals – trading in three winning seasons for an atrocious, last-place finish. Regina Capitals tried unsuccessfully to sign him that same year for their ensemble challenge against the New Westminster Salmonbellies for the Minto Cup.
Pickering was signed by Con Jones in September 1909 to play for Vancouver Lacrosse Club in exhibition matches played during the BC Provincial Exhibition held the following month. He would remain on the Pacific Coast with Vancouver for the next dozen years – first as a leading veteran player with Vancouver and then later in a player-manager capacity when Con Jones bowed out of the game.
He was reported by the Ottawa Citizen to be the highest paid player with Vancouver in 1910 however other newspaper sources state that he received the same $50 per week wage as the other Eastern imports that same season.
There were rumours of him returning to Ottawa in 1911 for business reasons however he remained on the Pacific Coast. The following season Pickering was rumoured to be signing with a Toronto team.
Con Jones pulled the plug on his Vancouver Lacrosse Club team and withdrew from the league in July 1913 after a dispute over scheduling with the Salmonbellies. Harry Pickering was a member of a four-player committee along with ‘Newsy’ Lalonde, Harry Griffiths, and Harry Godfrey who then took control over the team when Jones quit but the quartet were unable to keep the club running nor resume the season.
When the Vancouver Athletic Club made the move to the professional ranks the following year, as a replacement for Jones’s club, Pickering was one of a handful of ex-VLC players who joined up with VAC. Sadly the Athletics’ season fared just as poorly on the field and at the gate as their predecessors had the year before, as the 1914 professional campaign collapsed after just 6 games.
With the Vancouver teams, he played the position of what would, in the modern game, be regarded as a defensive midfielder. He appeared in 78 games for Vancouver in his 9 playing seasons on the Coast. After Con Jones quit the professional game (once again) after the 1918 season, Harry Pickering took over as manager for the Vancouver Terminals for three seasons from 1919 to 1921. He won three Minto Cup championships – all with Vancouver – in 1911, the disputed 1918 series, and in 1920.
In April 1915, Pickering made an interesting statement which appeared in the Montréal Journal of Commerce, observing the climatic differences that Eastern and Western players faced and the bearing on their game. While not expressly pointing out what those differences were, Pickering stated that “a team going to the coast should either play the day after their arrival, or wait a couple of weeks. The difference in climate makes the players sleepy.”
He refereed in the 1923 Mann Cup series between Victoria Capitals and New Westminster Salmonbellies as the two divisional champions of the British Columbia Coast Lacrosse Association met for the gold trophy.
It is unknown exactly when Pickering passed away – although an article in the Ottawa Citizen in November 1936 refers to him as deceased. He is believed to have been born on February 5, 1881 based on birth records registered at Mount Forest, Wellington, Ontario for Harry Sherman Pickering – this is assumed to be the same person as the lacrosse player. He married 19-year-old Mary Colquhoun on September 22, 1906 in York, Ontario. There are death records for a Harry Sherman Pickering, in Vancouver, for October 8, 1936 – but it is unknown if this is the same person, although birth years do match.
Harry Pickering was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame as a charter member in the Field category in 1965.
(PHOTO SOURCE: detail from CVA99-43)