Lance Isaacs | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Lance Isaacs

Lance Isaacs, Mohawk athlete (born 1907 in the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation, ON; died 23 July 1937 in Toronto, ON). Isaacs and his brothers Bill and Wade became some of Canada’s most outstanding lacrosse players.

A Lacrosse Legacy

Bill Isaacs was the son of Freeman Joseph Isaacs (1869–1937), also known as “Man Afraid of the Soap.” The elder Isaacs represented Canada at the 1904 St. Louis Olympic Games on the Mohawk Indians lacrosse team, which won a bronze medal. Another Canadian lacrosse team, the Winnipeg Shamrocks, won the gold medal. The two lacrosse medals helped Canada secure third place in the overall medals count, although only a few nations had competed that year. The only other time that lacrosse was a competitive sport at the Olympics was in 1908, while it was a demonstration sport in 1928, 1932 and 1948. Three of Isaacs’ sons, Wade, Lance and Bill became star lacrosse players for various teams in Canada and the United States.

Lance Isaacs

Lance Isaacs began his lacrosse career with the Haldimand Rifles Indians, playing with his younger brother Bill. They led their team to the Ontario championship against Peterborough in the finals.

In 1937, Lance was on his way to become one of the top-10 scorers in the league, when tragedy struck. At the end of the second quarter, playing for the Marlboro Lacrosse Club, Lance walked into the dressing room with his teammates, including brother Bill, and sat down on the edge of a table. Lance stiffened, gasped for air, whispered a barely audible “hey” and fell backward onto the table, where the trainer caught him in his arms. Bill was seated only a few feet away from his 29-year-old brother and scrambled to help him. But it was too late as Lance was already dead, the victim of a stress-related heart attack. Bill was devastated, but soon rallied. The game was cancelled with a score of 7 to 5 in favour of the Marlboros. Ironically, Lance had scored the seventh goal with less than a minute left in the quarter. In a show of sportsmanship, the opposing team from Brampton requested that the game be awarded to the Marlboros, so that Lance’s last goal in life was a winning one.


Lacrosse is one of the oldest organized sports in Canada and originated in First Nations communities. Box lacrosse was developed in Canada in the 1930s to use hockey arenas left empty during the summer. Today, there are four versions of lacrosse played in Canada: men’s field lacrosse, women’s field lacrosse, box lacrosse and inter-crosse.