CLA History: The Founders Cup

Photo Courtesy of Two Row Times                                                                                                                   

As summer starts to wind down so does the summer box season across Canada, and that means that the Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA) national championships are on the horizon. 

This year, I wanted to take a dive into the history of each of the four CLA National Championships that will take place from August through September. I will be going in order of when each takes place. So, first up is the Founder’s Cup which is the championship for Junior “B”. 

Just like anything else, the Founders Cup has gone through many changes in throughout its history. The first Junior ‘B” championship in Canada occurred in 1964, but it wasn’t the Founders Cup that they were playing for. The Castrol Cup, a silver cup donated by Castrol Oils, was the original trophy for the Junior “B” championship. 

During the Castrol Cup era, the Elora Mohawks (Ontario) were the most dominate team. They won the first Castrol Cup in 1964 as the Guelph Mohawks, and then won two straight as the Elora Mohawks in 1967 and 1968. In addition, an Ontario team won five out of the eight years that the Junior “B” championship was known as the Castrol Cup.

It wasn’t until 1972 that the CLA retired the Castrol Cup and introduced the Founders Cup. The CLA named the Founders Cup in honor of the founders of organized lacrosse, especially William George Beers. Beers wrote the first rulebook for the sport and helped found the Canadian National Lacrosse Foundation which then became the Canadian Lacrosse Association. 

While the CLA introduced the Founders Cup in 1972 it wasn’t given to the Junior “B” champion until 1973. During that ’72 season, the Founders Cup was awarded to the Long Branch PCO’s who were the Junior “C” champions. In 1973 the Niagara-on-the-Lake Warriors won the Founders Cup, making them the first Junior “B” team to hoist the trophy. 

Not only has the trophy and name changed over time, but also the structure of the tournament. While it is a round-robin style tournament that plays down to the championship nowadays, the Founders Cup used to be an invitational style championship. 

The one thing that has not changed about the Junior “B” championship over the years is the dominance of Ontario teams. Since moving from the Castrol Cup to the Founders Cup, the Junior “B” championship an Ontario team has won each year except three years, 1980 with the Enoch Tomahawks (Alberta), 1999 Edmonton Miners (Alberta), and 2009 Calgary Mountaineers. 

In terms of the number of championships, the Six Nations Rebels hold the record with seven while the Elora Mohawks had six titles. Also, the Clarington Green Gales and Point Edward Pacers have each won four titles in their teams’ histories. 

The longest winning streak is owned by the Six Nations Rebels who captured the championship four years in a row from 2011 to 2014. During those four years, the Rebels had players such as Vaughn Harris, Zed Williams, Austin Staats, Doug Jameison, and others that made up all-star caliber rosters each year. 

In 2019, the Founders Cup will be played in Winnipeg, Manitoba from August 12th-18th. There will be seven teams participating from six different provinces as well as a First Nations team. As of writing this, the Manitoba Blizzard (Host team), Saskatchewan SWAT, and North Shore Kodiaks are the only three teams that have qualified for the Founders Cup thus far. The four slots left are Alberta (RMLL), British Columbia (WCJBLL), First Nations Lacrosse Association, and Ontario (OJBLL). 

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