1932 ARGONAUGHTS- MANN CUP FINALISTS
In the early 1900s, Winnipeg’s population exploded and a number of amateur athletic associations and leagues were established to serve the expanding number of young and adult Winnipeggers.
One of these organizations developed in the city’s West End and was called The Argonaught Athletic Association, or “Argos” for short. Under the leadership of local businessman Harold F. McKinley, the group’s goals were “keeping young peoples’ minds occupied with good thoughts, organizing lacrosse and hockey participation in local house leagues, representing the west end in the city leagues, and competing for provincial and national championships.”
A change building and rink were constructed on a lot north of Preston Ave. (the site of today’s Vimy Ridge Park), but the association decided its emphasis would be on developing a competitive lacrosse program. And what a program it was! In 1919, the Argos challenged for the Mann Cup, the group’s first foray beyond our borders. They were Midget champs in 1921 and ’22, Juvenile and Midget winners in 1924, Midget champs again in 1926, and Manitoba Senior victors in 1927.
And then came 1932. As Manitoba Senior champions, the Argos hosted the Squamish Indians, the BC champs, in a two-game total point Western playoff. Playing at the Winnipeg Amphitheatre (now the site of Great West Life’s parking lot), the Manitoba champions dominated and defeated the boys from BC 28-19.
Next came the best of three Mann Cup finals in Toronto against the Mimico Mountaineers, where a combination of travel fatigue and a depleted roster due to work commitments left the Argo team a mere shadow if its true self. Still, they held the high-powered Mountaineers to just 16 goals in losing two straight matches.
Two members of the ’32 Argos, Dick Buckingham and Frank Hawkins, were chosen to play for Canada at the 1932 Olympic Summer Games in Los Angeles. A third member – Sam Thompson – joined Buckingham and Hawkins and this year’s honourees Harold and Charlie Benson, as members of the Manitoba Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
Argo lacrosse and hockey continued until the 1950s, when the newly-formed community centres such as Orioles, West End Memorial, and Isaac Brock took over minor sport in the west end of Winnipeg. Nevertheless, the accomplishments of the Argonaughts, especially that great 1932 squad, will never be forgotten.