Western Canada Baseball 1903

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NORTH WEST TERRITORIES - Assiniboia & Saskatchewan
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With much of the prairies yet to be settled (and the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan yet to be created) the major centre for baseball was Winnipeg. Although baseball games began to flourish in the Calgary area, BC's Lower Mainland and even in the BC Interior.

1903 marked the beginning of my home town, Lloydminster.

At the end of March, 1903 the S.S. Lake Manitoba sailed from Liverpool for Canada with nearly 2,000 men, women and children crammed on board.

They were responding to efforts by the Canadian government to settle the prairies.

" ... When they left the train that had brought them across the country from the docks of Saint John to the shacks of Saskatoon, many of them had never driven a horse let alone harnessed one to a plow. Their transformation into farmers began on the 320-kilometre trek north and west to colony headquarters. They learned to pitch tents, dig for potable water, cook bannock over a campfire, battle mosquitoes and rescue oxen and horses from the mire of one slough after another. Steeply sided creek beds and raging prairie fires did not stop them. Through scarlet fever, diarrhea and the birth of babies - the All-British Colony persevered."

They put down roots in a place they would call Lloydminster, named after Reverend George Exton Lloyd a leader of the colony.

The provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan would be created in 1905, with the border running through the middle of the new settlement.

The Canadian National Railway track was completed to the new settlement in August of 1905.

Baseball was not far behind.

"The townspeople have organized football, baseball and cricket teams, and in the winter two good hockey teams played each other and the teams of neighboring places at frequent intervals." (Edmonton Bulletin, July 24, 1906).

(Of course, that reference to football, from a European perspective, points to "soccer").

Baseball was already pretty well established in Manitoba with amateur leagues in Winnipeg and Brandon, semi-pro teams in Brandon and Virden and the professional Winnipeg nine in the Northern League.

George DuquetteThe Brandon semi-pro team garnered much attention, especailly lefty pitcher George Duquette (right) who was reported to have won 21 of 22 decisions, losing only the second start of a double-header. He was signed by the Detroit Tigers but does not appear to have pitched in any major league games.

Not all the action happened on the field.

Brandon, Man. Sept. 9 -- One of the prominent members of the Brandon senior baseball league left the league yesterday, jumping his job in one of the large stores here. He also left several unpaid bills behind him, and it is said did not forget to take the fur-lined overcoat belonging to his roommate.
The name of another Brandon citizen's wife is coupled with the baseballer's departure, as report says he was upon intimate terms with him and disappeared at the same time." (Free Press Prairie Farmer, Winnipeg, September 16, 1903)