Down Memory Lane - Ken Matheson
Down Memory Lane Articles - by Stan Shillington
Ken Matheson was a born competitor.
It mattered not that the opponent might be bigger, stronger, or even deadly; for Ken, it was the competition and he had to give his best:
Kenneth Albert Matheson was born in Calgary on May 14, 1914, but raised in New Westminster where the Salmonbellies dominated lacrosse and the Adanac Basketball Club rulled the hoop scene. Ken enjoyed both pastimes.
In 1933, the 12-man field game gave way to seven-man box lacrosse. A quick meeting of the Adanac basketball organization concluded it would form a lacrosse team and enter the newly-formed Inter-City Lacrosse League.
As an incentive to improve local talent, the Adanacs adopted the motto "the bestest with the mostest gets the nod." The basketball team had captured the Canadian Senior 'A' titles in 1928-29 and 1920-30 and sponsored Senior 'B' and Intermediate 'A' clubs -many of these youngsters also dabbled with the gutted stick.
And, so, it came as no surprised that many younger players were given a chance to display their wares, often keeping the veterans on their toes (or on the bench). To illustrate, only four members of the 1933 first-year team - Ken and Max McDonald, Stu Gifford and Slack McCranor - made it to the 1936 season. Ken Matheson, who joined the senior Adanacs in the sophomore year, was the lone 1934 player addition to join the original four by 1936.
The development of local youngsters paid off by 1938 when the Adanacs captured the B.C. title, only to fall to St. Catharines in Mann Cup play; however, the Adanacs reversed the results in 1939, winning its first national championship.
The Adanacs went two more seasons when most of the players traded their sporting duds for Armed Services uniforms.
Matheson joined the airforce, eventually serving with the RAF's Number 49 and 83 Squadrons. After captaining a Lancaster on numerous bombing raids on enemy targets in 1944, Ken was awarded the Distinquished Flying Cross.
But the Second World War raged on.
Ken volunteered to join the Pathfinder Force whose mission was to be the first aircraft over a target in order to drop flares that would guided following bombers -- a hazardous, often deadly,, occupation;
His aircraft often sustained heavy damage from enemy flak, but Squadron Leader Matheson and his crew always made it safely home. In all, he flew 50 sorties against enemy targets, logging 281 hours.
King George VI presented Matheson with a bar to his DFC in an investiture at Buckingham Palace on July 13, 1945_:
Meanwhile, the Adanacs had re-entered the ICLL with rocking chair veterans, a handful of teenagers and whatever returning serviceman who showed up.
Matheson made it back in time to participate in four 1945 playoff games and, although he managed a goal and an assist after four years away from- the game, he decided to retired at the age of 31. It was time to turn his competitive efforts fulltime into the world of business.
For the next 30 years, Matheson was the owner and president of the prosperous Fraser River Pile Driving Company.
In 209 games with the Adanacs, Ken scored 279 goals and 133 assists for 412 points, a total that undoubtedly would have been much higher had the war not intervened.
Ken Matheson -- outstanding athlete, war hero, businessman, gentleman -- passed away on November 29, 2003.