History of the A's


The A's In The Victorian Age


When the Athletics Lacrosse Club were formed in 1877, St. Catharines had been a city for only a year and had a population of just around 4,000. 

The Athletics’ 1883 move to their permanent home at the new lacrosse grounds on Catherine Street would occur a little before regular passenger steamship service would commence between Port Dalhousie and Toronto. This would be an important development for the future of local lacrosse as it gave the team ready access to the good teams playing out of Toronto and beyond. The team’s excursions that were accompanied by several hundred supporters and the local regimental band on the “Empress of India” or the “Garden City” to the Toronto Island or Scarborough Beach lacrosse grounds would be an enjoyable part of being a St. Catharines lacrosse fan in the late 19th century. 

By 1887 an electric streetcar service was opening up in St. Catharines (the first in North America) and this provided the means for many more fans to attend the team’s home games. The N. S. & T. terminal on Geneva Street was just a short walk from the lacrosse grounds and eventually this system would extend to Niagara Falls and across the peninsula to Port Colbourne. 

The St. Catharines Standard newspaper would publish its first issue in 1891 and William Bartlett Burgoyne would then purchase this business a year later. From the start, the local daily would be an important supporter of the Athletics, a reputation it has maintained to the present day.   

The Athletics scrapbook for this era includes:              

July 2, 1881 Athletics play Brants at the fairgrounds
May 28, 1884 A's win match but lose tug-of-war versus Native team
late summer of 1885 A poem to John "Zip" Carlisle
August 20, 1886 Athletics host team from Ireland
July 6, 1887 The indignant Athletics
June 17, 1889 "Our citizens were elated"
July 19, 1889 The indignant Brants
July 30, 1889 Montreal Shamrocks defeated
July 30, 1890 Athletics play at nearby Niagara Falls
August 18, 1890 A's win second consecutive C. L. A. championship
August 1, 1895 The Brampton Excelsiors in St. Catharines
June 6, 1896 "And the band played on"
May 30, 1898 "The Athletics of '98 are all right!"
August 8, 1898 City merchants encouraged to close shop
July 20, 1899 Editorial response to "a tendency to roughness"
July 24, 1899 Unrepentant A's walk off the field
July 22, 1901 Clean, fast lacrosse returns
August 26, 1901 A's are champions of District No. 2!
September 9, 1901 Athletics play for the Globe Shield

The Athletics are alright !                                      

photo courtesy of Nickerson Appliances, St.Catharines     


see "faces from the past" collage