My family and I recently travelled to St. Catharine’s, Ontario, for a day of exploring the Welland Canal. This is about a 45-minute drive from where I’ve lived for the past fifteen years, but I had never been there. It wasn’t until we arrived at the Lock 3 visitor’s centre that I realized that the same building also houses the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Museum. In addition to watching 35,000-ton ships over 700 feet long navigate into a passage only two feet wider than themselves, we got to see some pretty cool lacrosse memorabilia and recognize some of the pioneers of lacrosse in Ontario.
The HoF is part of the St. Catharine’s Museum and is not a big place, but there are a lot of jerseys, sticks, old photographs, and even paintings and sculptures. There is a listing of players who have been inducted into the Ontario Hall, as well as Ontario-based players and builders who have been inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, which is located in New Westminster, BC.
There were a number of pictures of former Mann Cup winning teams from Ontario. There was one from the 1980 Brampton Excelsiors featuring a very young-looking Terry Sanderson. I found one from the 1993 Excelsiors that contained a whole bunch of familiar names: J. Sanderson (turned out to be John, not Josh), T. Cordingley (Ted), D. Teat, J. Grant (Sr.), P. Coyle, K. Dance, another T. Cordingley (that one’s Troy), J. Tavares, B. Shanahan (Brian), S. Dietrich, and P. St. John. Even the list of people who were absent from the picture is impressive: Jim Veltman, Tom Phair, Randy Mearns, Rich Kilgour, Darris Kilgour, Derek Graham. Recognize this kid?
Yup, that’s none other than NLL Hall of Famer Steve “Chugger” Dietrich. How about these guys, holding some hardware?
On the left with the Stanley Cup we have Brendan Shanahan and on the right with the Mann Cup is his big brother, TSN analyst and IL Indoor writer Brian Shanahan. Here’s one more picture, this one of two people whose names still come up frequently when talking about the NLL, even though this is a picture from the mid-90’s. One of them looks almost exactly the same now as he did then, while the other looks a little different:
The caption reads “Mann’s Best Friends”, and of course this is Troy Cordingley and the ageless John Tavares. They’re both wearing Six Nations Chiefs jerseys (which would put the picture at 1995 or 1996 when they were both won the Mann with the Chiefs), but you can see “Bandits” on Cordingley’s stick.
There were lots of NLL All-Star jerseys hanging up, with lots more names familiar to NLL fans: Doyle, Point, Carey, Tavares. There were also pictures of the so-called “builders” of the game, which generally means GMs and coaches and such. But there were a number of exhibits on the real creators of lacrosse: the First Nations people. They showed how wooden sticks were made, and talked about how they have been playing lacrosse for hundreds of years, how they used it to settle disputes between tribes, how they played on fields that were miles long and had no “out of bounds”, and how they had no limit on the number of players on each team (as long as the numbers were “relatively close”). The thing that really amazed me was that in many cases, the only rule was that you were not allowed to touch the ball with your hands. The only rule. And you thought the game was rough now.
My whole family had a great time visiting the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame, as well as the St. Catharine’s Museum and Lock 3 on the Welland Canal. I was going to make a joke about “maybe someday when they have a Bloggers category, I might return as an inductee” but in all seriousness, even making such a joke makes me feel disrespectful to those players, builders, and pioneers of the game who have legitimately been inducted and celebrated. All of the inductees have my appreciation, my congratulations, and my respect.