Bruce Wanless

Humble beginnings for Bruce, who is considered one of lacrosse’s all-time great defensive players.

March 31, 2021 | | Over the Next Hill

Snapshot: Meet a Community Elder

Local lacrosse legend Bruce Wanless credits his love of the game to serendipity. “When we were kids, a neighbour gave my brother and me two well-used lacrosse sticks. We spent countless hours whacking the ball against a brick wall of our farm house that was a perfect backboard,” he said.

Bruce Wanless won three MVP awards in Ontario lacrosse leagues and played on four national championship teams. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

Bruce Wanless won three MVP awards in Ontario lacrosse leagues and played on four national championship teams. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

Growing up as one of five children on the family farm in Caledon’s former Chinguacousy Township, Bruce, now 82, remembers riding bareback on a horse to a one-room schoolhouse with two of his siblings. “When we got there we’d send our four-legged friend home while we headed to class,” he said.

Humble beginnings for Bruce, who is considered one of lacrosse’s all-time great defensive players.

He would eventually claim three MVP awards in Ontario lacrosse leagues and be part of four national championship-winning teams. He was inducted into the Brampton Sports Hall of Fame in 1987, the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1997, and the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2002. In addition, the Canadian Lacrosse Foundation named him a Lacrosse Legend and created a YouTube video to honour his achievements.

In the mid-1960s, Bruce briefly played professional lacrosse with the Detroit Olympics, making enough money to buy a colour television, but the league didn’t survive.

It was the camaraderie of the game that Bruce treasures most. “The train trips from Ontario to Western Canada to play in national competitions are some of my fondest memories,” he said.

One wonders what might have happened if instead of lacrosse sticks the neighbour had dropped off hockey sticks, or perhaps tennis rackets.

At the beginning of his working life, Bruce briefly owned both a dairy and a variety store, but when he joined the Brampton Fire Department in 1971 he knew he had found his professional calling. He retired as district fire chief 28 years later at the mandatory retirement age of 60.

For the next 20 years Bruce worked as safety manager for Graham Bros. Construction and was honoured to give the eulogy at founder Bill Graham’s funeral in 2019.

As pandemic restrictions ease, Bruce and Donna, his wife of 59 years, are eagerly anticipating resumed visits from their two daughters and six grandsons.

About the Author More by Gail Grant

Gail Grant is a freelance writer who lives in Palgrave.

Related Stories

Covid-19 Has Changed Us

Mar 31, 2021 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

And some of those changes may be for the better.

In his long career in the space program, Alex Rodrigues travelled regularly to the Kennedy Space Center for work on the Canadarm. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

Alex Rodrigues

Nov 24, 2020 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

This award-winning senior writes a newsletter for more than 400 of his peers.

Anne Livingston was the first woman to receive the Brampton-Caledon Farmer of the Year Award. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Anne Livingston

Jun 20, 2019 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

When the family started Broadway Farm’s Market in 2002, Anne kept the books and did the baking for the shop.

Bill Hayes, whom the kids call “Mr. Bill,” at Alton Public School with students Faith (rear), Ruby (left) and Brooke. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Bill Hayes

Sep 16, 2019 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

Bill Hayes spent his early childhood on a farm property that is now the Caledon Riding and Hunt Club on the Third Line (now Creditview Road).

On her first solo trip, Barbara McKenzie had the pleasure of feeding a koala at the Sydney Zoo in Australia.

Faraway Places are Still Within Reach

Nov 22, 2017 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

Travel helps us see things from a different perspective and lean away from old age.

Hanging Up My Apron

Sep 18, 2020 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

After turning 70 Gail Grant found cooking a chore. Here’s how meal kits, poached eggs on toast and guilty-pleasure dinners have kept her happily fed.

The Northmen women’s U19-1 team, shown here at Barbour Field in Hillsburgh last summer, was ranked fourth in the province by the end of the season. Photo by James MacDonald.

Lacrosse: Game On!

Mar 26, 2018 | Anthony Jenkins | Leisure

A curious hockey enthusiast turns his sights to lacrosse, a sport with deep roots — and avid fans — in Orangeville

Lacrosse Leader: Jeff Henrick, 21, Orangeville. Photo by Casey Cascaldo.

Lacrosse Leader: Jeff Henrick

Nov 20, 2018 | Nicola Ross | 25 Under 25

Orangeville’s Jeff Henrick is junior at Ohio State University, where he plays the game he honed with the Northmen here at home.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

By posting a comment you agree that IN THE HILLS magazine has the legal right to publish, edit or delete all comments for use both online or in print. You also agree that you bear sole legal responsibility for your comments, and that you will hold IN THE HILLS harmless from the legal consequences of your comment, including libel, copyright infringement and any other legal claims. Any comments posted on this site are NOT the opinion of IN THE HILLS magazine. Personal attacks, offensive language and unsubstantiated allegations are not allowed. Please report inappropriate comments to vjones@inthehills.ca.