On Friday, the McCord museum unveiled a historic exhibit; the 150th anniversary of lacrosse.
“This weekend is a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the modern day of lacrosse,” said event organizer Jim Calder. “We could have held this party anywhere in Canada, but Montreal was chosen because this is where it really happened. It changed from traditional medicine game from the first nations, into the modern game.”
Lacrosse was first adapted into a modern sport in 1867.
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Calder credits a Montrealer for helping to make it popular.
“The rules were given to us by a Montrealer by the name of George Beers, who created the rules and was a great promoter of the game in the late 1800s,” he said.
In the 1900s, lacrosse became known as Canada’s national summer sport.
It then eventually spread from Canada to other parts of the world.
“Now we’re 60 countries playing the game worldwide and we’re maybe within eight years of Olympic status for the sport,” said Calder.
But the sport wouldn’t have been, if it wasn’t for the First Nations community.
“It’s called a creator’s game, given to us by the creator,” said lacrosse stick maker, Alfred Jacques. “When we play a game, we have a tobacco-building religious ceremony before we play our traditional game. It’s part of our culture, it’s part of who we are as a people.”
Jacques has been making lacrosse sticks for 56 years.
He makes them out of hickory or ash. Although modern lacrosse players now use plastic sticks, he says, that is what spread the game to people around the world.
“It’s still our game, with their rules, but the plastic sticks took it to a lot more people and a lot more people are enjoying our game, and I do appreciate that,” he said.
The exhibition is being held at the McCord Museum from June 16-18. Admission is free.