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Tom Longboat Ward Marathon Trophy


Video Transcript

[Narrator - Rylan Strachan]

[Image of Tom Longboat running, full face image and Six Nation's Reserve photo of his home]

Thomas Charles Longboat was one of the most renowned long distance runners of the early 20th century and one of the most accomplished indigenous athletes in Canadian history. Part of the Onondaga Nation, he was born on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario. Originally named Cogwagee, Longboat was proud of his culture and successfully fled from the Mohawk Institute Residential School.

[Image of Ward Marathon Trophy with many details of engraving, image of prize trophies won by Tom Longboat]

Early marathons were mostly unregulated and race distances of 15 miles or more were considered a marathon. Toronto started the 15-mile Ward Marathon in 1906 and was held every October until 1913. Longboat began racing in 1905. In 1906, he won the Ward Marathon nearly three minutes ahead of the runner-up in rainy weather. In 1907, Longboat won dozens of other races, including the Boston Marathon with a record breaking time and won the Ward Marathon again.

[Image of Longboat on a stretcher, 1908 Olympic pin, Longboat with family and with fellow athletes sitting in a car]

After collapsing during the Marathon at the 1908 London Olympic Games, he returned to the Ward Marathon and was rewarded the Ward Trophy permanently. In 1909, he began to race professionally. His success garnered the acceptance and support of many Canadians at a time where First Nations people were considered inferior by many in wider society.

[Image of Longboat in military uniform in the trenches, Longboat running]

At the peak of his career, Longboat enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces in the First World War. He served as a dispatch runner in France. Following the War, he retired from professional racing at the age of twenty- five.

[Image of Tom Longboat Award and images of Longboat running]

For many decades, the Tom Longboat Award recognized the top male and female amateur First Nations athletes in each province. Tom Longboat's legacy continues to inspire future generations of aboriginal athletes.

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