15 November

The Paris Crew

Ned Hanlan Wins World's Sculling Championship

Canadian athletes have always been among the world's best in winter sports, especially hockey and skating. They have also won world titles in skiing and bob-sledding. Boxing is another sport in which Canadians have excelled (see February 23). The first Canadians to win world renown were oarsmen.

It was natural that Canadians should take to boats like ducks to water. Regattas were great social occasions, and were held in Toronto Bay as early as 1848. The first crew of oarsmen to win distinction came from Saint John, New Brunswick. In 1853, in an eight-oared boat, they defeated the American champions for a purse of $2,000. In Confederation year, a four-oared crew from Saint John went to Paris and won the World's Championship. It became known as the "Paris crew."

More modern rowing, using sliding rather than fixed seats, was introduced in 1868 when Dick Tinning won the Canadian Championship. He was beaten later by Thomas Loudon, and then the two of them helped to train perhaps the greatest sculler the world has ever seen, Edward Hanlan of Toronto. On May 30, 1876, Hanlan gained prominence by winning the Philadelphia Centennial Race of three miles. Then he was invited to meet the world champion, E. A. Trickett of Australia, in a race in Britain.

It was held on November 15, 1880, on the famous Thames River course of about 41/2 miles from Putney to Mortlake. The event drew international attention and betting was heavy, most of the money backing Trickett. In fact, bookmakers found it difficult to persuade bettors to place money on Hanlan. They must have made a fortune because the race was no contest. Hanlan drew ahead so quickly that he stopped rowing every now and then to thank the people on the banks of the river for applauding him. Towards the end of the course, he lay down in his shell and rested until Trickett caught up with him! Then he easily beat him to the finish line.

Edward Hanlan won the World's Championship six times, earning $50,000 in prize money. Hanlan's Point on Toronto Island is named after him.



15 November

-1765    An ordinance admitted French-speaking jurors to courts and permitted lawyers to plead in French.

-1877    The Northwest Council passed laws to conserve the buffalo.

-1948    W. L. Mackenzie King resigned as prime minister and was succeeded by Louis St. Laurent (see April 21).