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Brownsville Indians lacrosse team the first

August 10, 2014

The first sports team from Brownsville in regular competition appears to have been a lacrosse team called the Brownsville Indians who entered league play in 1906.
Although Brownsville was renowned for  boating competitions on Fraser River — First Nations canoe races, sailing and rowing — and may we include steamboats trying conclusions in impromptu challenges not to be overtaken —  dating to the first days of this Colony,  of  playing host to rifle shooting contests over several decades,  and for a cricket oval where JSK de Knevett brought the New Westminster side to practice,  the first team from this side of the river was likely the Brownsville Indians, playing Canada’s national sport.
In a headline datelined "New Westminster, June 1, 1906, the Vancouver Daily World reported–

"The Fraser River Indians made their first appearance in league lacrosse circles last evening, when the team from the Brownsville Indian reserve met the West End boys on the Queen’s park oval."


Brownsville was defeated in this inaugural match and did not fare too well against two more experienced city teams in the three-team intermediate league, West End and the Reginas.
It appears that all the games were played at Queen’s Park.
The following week,  the Indians second match and the third in the "city intermediate championship series" — "drew a large crowd to the Queen’s Park oval."    The Brownsville side fell once again to their city competition. 
Although not enjoying great success in league play, the Brownsville Indians came out on top against first nations competition,  winning the  first British Columbia Native Lacrosse Championship.
We are fortunate to have a list of the players on the first Brownsville side.
Goal, K Johnnie;
point, A. Dan;
cover point, J Spring;
first defence, H Louis;
second defence, H Joseph;
third defence, A Felix;
center, J Point;
third home, F Pierre;
second home, E Jason;
first home, A Brown;
outside home, A Peter;
inside home, A Johnnie.
Lacrosse  - Queen's Park - New Westminster - 1907In 1907, their second year of competition,  the Brownsville Indians announced they had dropped out of league play, but would continue with exhibition games again league teams.  They would also face the Squamish Indians in challenge matches.
They maintained status with the league, with referees appointed to the team being named as CD Peele and C Galbraith.  CD "Biscuits" Peele, a former star player,  was a brother of Brownsville School teacher Sidney Peele.
In a match the first week of June 1907, the Brownsville Indians fell once again to the West End boys in a match the Province reporter found wanting.

"As it was there were a couple of the Indians who played a very fair game. The three members of the Point family A, J and P Point, all showed up  well. J Point is a regular whirlwind when it comes to running, and it is safe to say that did he live in the city, he would soon be on one of the Intermediate teams. He was the only man on the team who handled his stick in a really smart manner. None of the West Enders showed up in particular."



In the second week of play a match between the New Westminster city "Junior aggregation" and the Brownsville Indians ended in regulation time tied four all, with New Westminster scoring a deciding goal in overtime.

"The match was witnessed by a crowd which made up in enthusiasm what it lacked in size. Many of the spectators were Indians, and their encouraging kiahowyas resounded wildly across the field. The sympathies of the white spectators too were entirely on the side of the redmen, and it was not through lack of support that they failed to win."

In other matches of the 1907 season Brownsville squared off against the Tecumsehs and Squamish.
Many thanks to "Nelson" for sharing a number of clippings on a subject about which we had no knowledge at all.
The Brownsville reserves, Langley and Musqueam, were not known to have a large population at this time, so the make up of the team appears to have been drawn from various lower Fraser communities. 
It is rather an honor that they chose to represent Brownsville  and it would be great to learn more about this team and perhaps see a picture of the jersey they wore.

Postcard photo of a Queen’s Park lacrosse match derived from New Westminster Public Library.

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