William George Beers

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William George Beers
A portrait of Beers taken in 1868
Born(1843-05-05)May 5, 1843
DiedDecember 26, 1900(1900-12-26) (aged 57)
Montreal, Quebec
Known for"Father of modern lacrosse"

William George Beers (May 5, 1843 – December 26, 1900), a noted Canadian dentist and patriot, is referred to as the "father of modern lacrosse" for his work establishing the first set of playing rules for the game.


William Beers was involved with lacrosse from a young age. As a teenager in 1856 he was a member of the Montreal Lacrosse Club. He was selected at the age of 17 to be a goalkeeper for a Montreal exhibition team that played a match before the Prince of Wales.

In 1860, Beers began to codify the first written rules of the modern game. Prior to this, all rules of the game needed to be decided prior to each game. Some of the rules established by Beers were the size of, and the use of a rubber lacrosse ball, that the lacrosse stick could be any length, but the pocket needed to be flat in the absence of a ball, length of the field to 200 yards (180 m), size of the goal and goal crease, twelve members of a team on the field at a time, and the length of a match to first to reach five goals, or lead by three.[1][2]

In 1867, as lacrosse was growing significantly in popularity, Beers created the Canadian National Lacrosse Foundation. In 1869, Beers published a book on lacrosse entitled Lacrosse: The National Game of Canada. In 1876, Beers organized a team of Canadian players and Indians players to tour England, Scotland, and Ireland to showcase the sport.[3] During this trip in 1876, Queen Victoria witnessed an exhibition game and was impressed, saying "The game is very pretty to watch." Her endorsement was enough for many English girls' schools to adopt the sport in the 1890s.[4] Again in 1883, Beers returned to England to showcase lacrosse. This time Beers brought two teams to play exhibition game.[3]


The first issue of the Dominion Dental Journal

Beers was a successful and notable dentist. After finishing his schooling in 1856, Beers completed a dental apprenticeship. By the early 1860s, Beers was a successful dentist and began publishing article in journals.[5] In 1868, he founded Canada's first dental journal, the Canada Journal of Dental Science.[6] Although this publication failed, he went on to start the Dominion Dental Journal in 1889, which eventually became the modern day Journal of the Canadian Dental Association. He also served as dean of Quebec's first dental college - the Dental College of the Province of Quebec, founded in 1892. In 1896 this College became affiliated with Bishop's University as their Dental Faculty. He held the position of Dean at Bishop's for only a short time; differences in opinion regarding curriculum and concerns over the use of untrained dental assistants led Beers to resign from the position.[7]


Beers was a strong Canadian nationalist. Besides advocating for lacrosse to become the national sport of Canada believing it would serve as "unifying symbol for the emerging Canadian nationality," Beers also defended the country against the Fenian Raids in 1866 and 1870.[8] During the raids, Beers helped establish the Victoria Rifles of Canada.[9]


Beers, William George (1869). Lacrosse: The National Game of Canada. Dawson Brothers (sanctioned by "National Lacrosse Association of Canada"). p. 256.


  1. ^ Scott, Bob; Scott, Robert (1978). Lacrosse: Technique and Tradition. JHU Press. ISBN 0-8018-2060-X.
  2. ^ "Lacrosse History". STX Lacrosse. Archived from the original on April 6, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
  3. ^ a b "Death of Noted Lacrosse Player" (PDF). New York Times. January 6, 1901. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
  4. ^ "Origin of Men's Lacrosse". FIL.
  5. ^ West, J. Thomas (1990). "Beers, William George". In Halpenny, Francess G (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. XII (1891–1900) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  6. ^ "Bibliography of Canadian Health Sciences Periodicals". Retrieved 2015-07-01.
  7. ^ Nicholl, Christopher (1994). Bishop's University, 1843-1970. McGill-Queen's Press. pp. 373 pages. ISBN 0-7735-1176-8.
  8. ^ Fisher, Donald M. (2002). Lacrosse: A History of the Game. JHU Press. ISBN 0-8018-6938-2.
  9. ^ "Victoria Rifles of Canada fonds (P190)". McCord Museum of Canadian History. Retrieved 2008-12-30.

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