All outstanding entities enjoy greatness and longevity when, at their inception, the organization is given a solid foundation on which to build the future.
When folded his Bluebirds lacrosse franchise and joined and to established the Vancouver Burrards club in 1937, one of the first players he signed was his Bluebirds’ netminder Walt Lee.
That bright decision established a tradition of stability that has sustained the lacrosse club throughout its 70 years of life.
All-star goaltenders such as Stan Joseph, and have all followed, but Walt Lee was the cornerstone that set out the tradition.
Reporter Jim Kearney once wrote: “Veteran Walt Lee, No. 1 firehall’s gift to the Burrard lacrosse team, was a good deal hotter at the Forum last night than any blaze he ever attended as a smoke-eater.” Writer Jack Richards observed: “To say that the portly gentleman in blue was terrific would be an understatement of the rankest sort — he was so hot that the paint almost peeled off the goalposts.”
During an 18-year, 479-game career (15 years and 406 games with the Burrards), Walt faced an incredible 16,965 shots. Little wonder he announced retirement on several occasions, but always bounced back. Then, before he finally packed away his gear at the age of 38, Walt spent a season tutoring Jack Green on the shooting idiosyncrasies of opposing players.
Walt was considered a gentleman in a violent sport, receiving only 21 minutes in penalties in his 479 games. But he did have his moments! For example, there was the night at the Forum in 1938 when Walt’s injudicious actions led to a near riot. Teammate cracked Indians over the eye. Walt then fell on the prostate of Newman with both knees in the back.
When peace was finally restored, the sharp-eyed referees, and, penalized an innocent. Perhaps, this was Walt’s secret of keeping his penalty total as low as it was. Oh, well, in any case, Walt was the winner of the Maitland Trophy in 1941 for his outstanding play and sportsmanship.
Walt took part in five Canadian championships — 1940, 1945, and 1951 with Burrards and 1943 and 1944 as a pickup player with Salmonbellies. He was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1967.