The 150th Anniversary of Lacrosse Celebration was a once-in-a-lifetime event - a festival of activities to help honour and celebrate the history and cultural significance of Canada's national summer sport, lacrosse. We strongly believe that 2017, a year that marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation as well as the birth of the modern version of lacrosse, is the perfect occasion to re-introduce our country's first national sport to a new generation of Canadians.
Through this event, the Canadian Lacrosse Foundation and its partners strived to educate the public about the important role that the sport of lacrosse has had in nation-building and its spiritual significance to the First Nations. Lacrosse exists as an important link between the First Nations and European Settlers. It remains the rare occurrence in which an element of native culture was accepted and embraced by Canadian society.
The celebrations took place in Montreal, QC, a city where the traditional game practiced by First Nations was adapted into a modern sport in 1867. Between June 16-18, 2017, a variety of educational and cultural activities for people of all ages took place.
Our County And Our Game.
A re-created game featuring authentic traditional sticks and wardrobe helped illustrate the transformation of lacrosse from a Traditional Game played by the First Nations to a Victorian Sport formalized by the rules of Dr. W.G. Beers. [note: we will be providing links to the video-taped presentation as soon as they become available]
Are-enactment of traditional lacrosse will take place on Saturday, June 17th (2:00pm-4:00) at McGill’s Lower Field with free admission.
The presentation will honour the indigenous roots of the Creator’s Game and its transformation into a modern Victorian-era sport. It happened here in Montreal 150 years ago. The spectacle will use sticks crafted by Haudenosaunee stick-makers from across the Iroquois Confederacy. The sticks are 1800’s style replicas.
These sticks will be used along with the wardrobe of the era in this authentic presentation of the Traditional Game, and a re-enactment of an 1867 match between the Montreal Lacrosse Club and the Kahnawake Lacrosse Club.
Fans in attendance will learn about the spiritual side of the medicine game, and the history of how it became the sport of lacrosse that we know and play today. The event will also be available to the world’s lacrosse community through online streaming provided by the Canadian Lacrosse Foundation.
Official Game Re-enactment Video
Big John (Lawrence “Buck” Cook) and Dr. George Beers (Dick Binsley) recounted how the rules of lacrosse came to be in 1867.
First, the Kanienkehá:ka (Mohawk) bear and wolf clans squared off in the Creator’s Game Saturday afternoon donning traditional buckskin breechcloths, playing with a deer hide ball and shooting for a single pole on either end of the dirt field.
Following the traditional game, Kahnawake and McGill University players reenacted a game between the Caughnawaga Indians and the Montreal Lacrosse Club from 1867.
Additional photos may be found here: uslaxmagazine.com photo gallery (photos by Daniel Rowe - click info icon for captions)
A traveling exhibition of historical artifacts and photos from the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame allowed attendees to learn about the history of the game and the people that have impacted it over the past 150 years.
Sponsors: Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, Ivanhoé Cambridge
A private function to honour all of those who helped create the celebration and build the sport over the years, with invited guests from all levels of government and the global lacrosse community helped us celebrate the historic milestone.
Sponsor: Cardinal Capital Management Inc.
The reception will be held over the weekend at the Club Sportif MAA – the new name for the original Montreal Amateur Athletic Club.
In the early 1870’s it was the home of the Montreal Lacrosse Club. The players on the team would change into their uniforms there and then jog up Peel Street to McGill’s Lower Field to meet one of a number of visiting clubs from the era. They might play the Kahnawake Lacrosse Club, the Montreal Shamrocks, the St. Regis Club from Akwesasne, or even the Toronto Lacrosse Club, among others. It is fitting for the building to serve as the site of the Official Reception of the Celebration Weekend!
A series of lectures and presentations on a variety of lacrosse topics, featuring numerous authors and academics, was also be part of the celebration. This gave attendees the opportunity to learn about the game from people that have studied its history.
The Lectures and Presentations:
J. Alan Childs
Topic: History of Lacrosse on the Prairie
J. Alan Childs is a researcher and historian on the sport of lacrosse in the Midwest. His book “Minnesota Lacrosse: A History” focuses on the roots of lacrosse in the Ojibwe and Dakota communities up to the early Midwest lacrosse. Mr. Childs lives in Savage, Minnesota with his wife and five children who play, coach, and teach lacrosse at all levels.
Topic: History and Influence of Canada in the Worldwide Development of Women’s Lacrosse 1884-1924
Jane Claydon grew up in England and was introduced to lacrosse at Dartford College of Physical Education. In 1975, she was appointed Head of the Physical Education Department at St Leonards School, in St Andrews, Scotland, where lacrosse for women began in 1890. She has been a lacrosse administrator for over 40 years, which includes acting as the Director of the inaugural 1982 Women’s World Lacrosse tournament at Trent Bridge in Nottingham. In 2009, Jane published a book entitled St Leonards: Cradle of Lacrosse, which outlined the role St Leonards played in the early development of the game for women in Scotland, England and the USA. She wrote a second book in 2012, St Leonards: First in the Field, which shows how St Leonards played a pivotal role in the introduction of major and minor games in girls’ schools in the United Kingdom. She also assisted Jim Calder and Ron Fletcher with research for the book Women Play Lacrosse, which was launched at the 2015 FIL U19 Women's Lacrosse World Championship. She is currently President of Lacrosse Scotland, a post she has held since 2008, and is also Chair of the Lacrosse Scotland Hall of Fame.
W.B. (Bruce) MacDonald
Topic: The Rise and Fall of Canada’s First Professional Leagues 1901-1924
Bruce MacDonald is a governor of the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame and a historian, author and poet. He has published six history books, including Salmonbellies vs The World: The Story of Lacrosse’s Most Famous Team & Their Greatest Rivals and The Good Hope Cannery, three books of poetry, two books of short stories and poems in Canadian periodicals. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Victoria and an Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. Bruce has taught at the University of British Columbia and the Ontario College of Art and Design and is a member of the Writer’s Union of Canada and the League of Canadian Poets.
Louis 'Tewenhni'tatshon' Delisle
Topic: The History of Lacrosse in Caughnawaga/Kahnawake and How the Warriors/Lacrosse Players Played a Significant Role in the Evolution of Turtle Island
Tewenhni'tatshon, also known as Louis Delisle, is a 2014 inductee to the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame as a player and builder. He has been an educator in his community since 1975 after graduating from McGill University with a bachelor's degree in education. His experiences in lacrosse go back to the mid-1950s. He has had the benefit of hearing lacrosse history through the oral traditions of elders of the Six Nations Confederacy. He is still involved with lacrosse today, acting as elder advisor to the Kahnawake Survival School lacrosse team.
Donald M. Fisher
Topic: Before Beers: The World of Native Lacrosse in North America to 1867
Donald M. Fisher, Ph.D. is the author of Lacrosse: A History of the Game, a book published by the John Hopkins University Press in 2002, as well as Splendid But Undesirable Isolation: Recasting Canada’s National Game as Box Lacrosse (1931-1932), a lacrosse article that appeared in Sport History Review in 2005. He was a presenter at the 2014 Transnational Lacrosse Conference which took place in Nova Scotia. Fisher currently lives near Buffalo, N.Y. and is a Professor of History at Niagara County Community College.
Topic: The Significance and Cultural Role of the Game of Lacrosse
Daniel Ferland holds both a bachelor's degree and master's degree in history from the University of Sherbrooke. His post-secondary research was centered on the sport of lacrosse and its First Nations origins. This historian has had an interest in the sport for quite some time, having played it for over 40 years. This has allowed him to see first-hand the evolution of in-game techniques and equipment, spanning from the end of the 20th century to the beginning of the 21st century.
Women and Gender in Sports
The Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at McGill University hosted a series of presentations on the topic of Women and Gender in Sports on Thursday evening.
Contact: Alexandra Ketchum
Dr. George Beers and the Re-Enacted Game Dr. George Beers, the 'Father of Modern Lacrosse', explains what the re-enacted game will look like at the 150th Anniversary of Lacrosse Celebration in Montreal.
Dr. George Beers and the National Lacrosse Association In 1867, Dr. George Beers led the formation of the National Lacrosse Association (now Canadian Lacrosse Association), the first sport governing body in North America. At the 150th Anniversary of Lacrosse Celebration in Montreal we celebrated our birthday!
Dr. George Beers and the International Growth of Lacrosse Dr. George Beers, the 'Father of Modern Lacrosse', talks about the exhibition of historical artifacts, curated by the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, that will be on display in Montreal at next month's 150th Anniversary of Lacrosse Celebration.
Dr. George Beers and the Changes to the Game Over The Years Dr. George Beers, the 'Father of Modern Lacrosse', seems a little confused by today's more modern lacrosse sticks. We can all learn about the transformation of the game from 150th Anniversary of Lacrosse Celebration in Montreal.
Dr. George Beers and the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame's Historical Display Dr. George Beers, the 'Father of Modern Lacrosse', talks about the exhibition of historical artifacts, curated by the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, on display in Montreal the 150th Anniversary of Lacrosse Celebration.
CANLax150: Media Conference Recap (May 16, 2017) A recap from the May 16, 2017 media conference in Montreal, where additional details on the re-enacted game taking place as part of the 150th Anniversary of Lacrosse Celebration were revealed.
Global Montreal: The McGill varsity team and Kahnawake Survival School recreate ‘old time’ lacrosse game ( By Dan Spector Global News) Lacrosse is celebrating 150 years and to mark the occasion, a special game between the McGill varsity team, and the team from the Kahnawake Survival School took place on the lower field of McGill University. The teams were dressed the way players would have dressed to play in 1867.Players wore long underwear while referees sported full suits and top hats.
CTV Montreal: Lacrosse at 150 (clip features traditional stick making)
USLacrosse Magazine: Medicine Game, Montreal-Mohawk Reenactment Mark 150th Anniversary of Lax in Canada
Vision Wear Lacrosse - Youtube video "150 Year Anniversary of Lacrosse | Sights and Sounds"
“This is what kept me connected to my past,” Tewenhni’tátshon Louis Delisle said through tears holding his wooden stick above his head. “Through the language of my elders, that’s the only thing that you could say kept our identity at those times.”
“I feel proud to be part of the sport of lacrosse and not just as a Native,” Delisle said. “This all-encompassing game was given to us by the Creator so that the whole world should enjoy it. It’s extremely important that we’re looking at the roots of the game, it was a Native pastime and sport and culture to train young men to have endurance, strength and toughness.”
“It’s so important that we educate the lacrosse world on the history, the First Nations’ contribution to the history of the game, and how it turned into the modern game in 1867,” said Jim Calder, who played for Canada in 1978 and 1982. “Kahnawake and the Montreal Lacrosse Club traveled to England three times and spread the game through the British empire through those three trips, so it was a cooperative effort to get the sport worldwide. … It’s a good time for everyone to remember where this thing came from.”
“It helps to show people that we’re not gone, we’re still very much alive,” said Stick maker Travis Gabriel from the Mohawk community of Kanesatake “Just that thought alone makes me happy.”
“I go around and talk about how the sticks are made to a lot of people all over the country in the United States and some in Canada, and I see that everybody wants to know,” Alf Jacques from Onondaga said. “They want a taste of that, the mystique, that spiritual game that the Natives play. They want a taste of that. They want a piece of that. They want wooden sticks, and want to know more about that traditional game all over the country.”
A special thank you to the sponspors and suppliers for their generous contributions. It is because of their benevolent support that this historic event was possible.