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He was a star shining brilliantly in the world of box lacrosse.

Then, in one tragic moment in 1959, that brilliance was snuffed out.

Jim “Peewee” Bradshaw was returned to Victoria from a May game in Nanaimo, asleep on the back seat of a car driven by a Shamrocks teammate, when the vehicle suddenly careered off the Malahat Highway. Peewee was killed.

In his book “Lacrosse 100,” author Cleve Dheensaw wrote that Bradshaw”…was a heavy set but sturdy little player who was a gifted ballhandler and scorer, and was one of the most popular Shamrocks ever. He died in his prime…”

Jim Bradshaw grew up in St. Catharines’ East End, excelling at such sports as softball, baseball, and swimming. But, like his older brother Bill, lacrosse was his passion.

After working his way through the Ontario community’s minor division, Bradshaw joined the St. Catharines Junior “A” Athletics in 1950 and was instrumental in leading his club to the Minto Cup championship.

Now affectionately dubbed “Peewee,” he spent another two seasons with the Junior Athletics. In 1952, his last year in the junior level, Bradshaw was picked up by Brampton to bolster its lineup in Excelsiors’ successful quest for the Minto Cup.

Peewee was an immediate success when he joined the senior Athletics in 1953 accumulating 36 goals and 38 assists for 74 points. He bettered his personal statistics the following season but they unfortunately have become lost with time. But the Peterborough club knew his value, adding him to its roster in the event his scoring prowess was required in the 1954 Mann Cup battle against Victoria.

The Shamrocks may have lost the national title but the B.C. club still came back a winner-Victoria had persuaded Bradshaw to “Go West, Young Man” for the 1955 season, joining other transplanted Easterners Bob Dobbie, Nip O’Hearn, and Geordie Johnston.

The Victoria fans immediately fell in love with the 24-year-old Bradshaw. The Newspapers gushed that he was “Brilliant,” “industrious,” ” a spunky little import,” even “the ever-hustling lad who plays with head as well as heart and legs.”

Three times he was voted Victoria’s most popular player

Victoria captured the 1955 Mann Cup over Peterborough four games to one, Bradshaw and teammate Bill Bamford equalling Eastern superstar Ike Hildebrand’s 16-point output in the five games.

Nanaimo, noting Victoria’s success, also imported a handful of Easterners for the 1956 season – Arnie Dugan, Don Ashbee, Bob Allan, and Harry Wipper -successfully capturing the Western Canadian title. When Nanaimo flew to Peterborough for Mann Cup play, Bradshaw had been added to the lineup.

Victoria returned to Mann Cup competition in 1957 against Long Branch and, once again, it was Bradshaw topping the point getters with six goals and eight assists in four games.

Meanwhile, Bradshaw had taken up the coaching reins of the Shamrocks junior squad, guiding the boys to Minto Cup finals in 1957 and 1958. Peewee accumulated 177 goals and 132 assists for 309 points in his four seasons with the senior Shamrocks. His St. Catharines’ statistics are incomplete but what is known is that he gathered at least 53 goals and 46 assists for 99 additional senior-level points.

Another St. Catharines’ alumnus, Hall-of-Famer Harry Wipper, recently observed:

“Peewee Bradshaw was short in size, short in playing years, short in coaching but it should not shorten his time to one day entering the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.”

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