CLA History: The Minto Cup

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Photo Credit: Elaine Fleury/Tri City News                                                                                                       

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. After looking at the history of the Founders Cup, we move onto the Minto Cup which is the championship for Junior “A”. 

The Minto Cup is by far the oldest trophy competed for amongst Canadian lacrosse, pre-dating box lacrosse. Donated by the Governor-General of Canada, Sir Gilbert John Murray Kynynmond Elliot 4th Earl of Minto, in 1901, the Minto Cup was intended to be for amateurs only. The Ottawa Capitals won the first Minto Cup in 1901, defeating the Cornwall Colts. The Montreal Shamrocks won the next seven seasons (1902-1907), becoming the first Minto Cup dynasty. 

By 1910, The Minto Cup had essentially been taken over by professionals and the Mann Cup was introduced for the Senior amateur championship. However, the last amateur challenge for the Minto Cup was in 1913 when the Mann Cup champions Vancouver Athletic Club challenged the Minto Cup champions New Westminster Salmonbellies. It is the only time in history that the Mann Cup champions and Minto Cup champions ever faced each other. 

From 1909 until 1924 the Minto Cup was a professional competition, completely escaping its amateur roots. During the professional era of the Minto Cup, the New Westminster Salmonbellies dominated the competition as they held the cup 21 out of 29 years, including sitting on the cup from 1925-1937. The only time during this period that the Minto Cup was not contested was during World War I in 1916 and 1917. Also, the Minto Cup was only competed for by teams in British Columbia from 1913 onward and had been in the hands of a British Columbia team since 1908.

In June of 1924 the Coast Professional League-known as the British Columbia Lacrosse Association-folded, thus marking the end of the Minto Cup’s professional era. The cup was brought back the the Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA) in 1937 to be the trophy for the Canadian Junior “A” champions. 

The Orilla Terriers won the Minto Cup in 1937, becoming the first junior champion to win the cup. However, it is unclear if they were ever given the cup or if they were just given the title due to the Minto Cup going missing following the passing of Charlie Welsh, the last surviving trustee of the Minto Cup. 

In 1938 the Mimico Mountaineers won the series and became the first team outside of British Columbia to hoist the cup in 31 years. The modern era of the Minto Cup as we know it today really started in 1960 when the practice of adding players to the provincial champion to create a sort of all-star team was abandoned. 

Since 1960, there have been multiple streaks, but nothing compares to the Oshawa Green Gaels dynasty. The Gaels won seven straight Minto Cup’s from 1963-1969. While they were led by many greats of the game, from 1964-1967 the Gaels were led by the legendary Gaylord Powless. Each Minto Cup winning Green Gaels team was collectively inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2000.

Peterborough and Burnaby have also won at least three straight Minto Cups as well. The Coquitlam Adanacs have been in every Minto Cup since 2014, but have only won two of those five times, 2016 and 2018. 

In 2019, the Minto Cup format is the same as it has been for quite sometime. The top two teams of the BCJALL (British Columbia), winners of the OJALL (Ontario), and winners of the RMLL (Alberta) will all compete in a round robin style tournament. The top two teams then face each other in a best of five series to determine to gets to hoist the cup. 

The 2019 Minto Cup will be played in Langley, BC from August 15th-26th. 

For a much deeper look at the history of the Minto Cup and lacrosse on the west coast, I highly suggest you check out Dave Stewart-Candy’s Old School Lacrosse website.

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6 thoughts on “CLA History: The Minto Cup

  1. I believe that for 2019, the BCJALL voted to have the top two teams of their playoffs represent BC in the Minto, rather than awarding the host, Langley Thunder, an automatic bid.

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  2. Some corrections: first off it is Salmonbellies not Salmon Bellies. second it was the Vancouver Athletics (or Vancouver Athletic Club) that challenged for the Minto in 1913, they were a different outfit than the Vancouver Lacrosse Club. Third, New Westminster “won 21 out of 29 years” is not really true, as they they sat on the cup between 1925 until 1937 – those 13 years don’t really count as them “winning” since the cup wasn’t up for competition. Lastly, the Coast Professional League was officially called the British Columbia Lacrosse Association and was a completely different and unrelated organisation to the modern amateur body that has that same name.

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