Canada's Sports Hall of Fame Canadian History and Society: Through the Lens of Sport Virtual Museum of Canada


Video Transcript

[Narrator - Rylan Strachan]

[Images of Ned Hanlan]

Following the success of the Paris Crew, Ned Hanlan became Canada's first World Champion in an individual event and the father of the modern rowing technique.

[Image of Ned Hanlan in scull and his scull]

Born to Irish immigrant parents, Edward "Ned" Hanlan was raised in Toronto, Ontario. He started rowing at age five. As a youth, he left school and honed his skills on the water as a fisherman. By age sixteen, he entered his first rowing competition and won the Toronto Bay Championship by age eighteen. In 1876, the Hanlan Club purchased an English-made shell equipped with recent innovations, the sliding seat and swivel oarlocks, to start his professional career.

[Images of rowers]

Using these innovations, Hanlan pioneered a smooth and powerful stroke that propelled him to dominate the rowing world. He won the Canadian championship in 1877, the American title in 1878, the English title in 1879, and was World Champion in 1880. His athletic success and showmanship resulted in immense popularity amongst enthusiastic spectators worldwide, but particularly inspired a national pride in English-speaking Canada.

[Image of Ned Hanlan on postage stamp]

From 1880 to 1884, Hanlan defended his title of World Sculling Champion. After losing his World and American titles, Hanlan continued to race and drew large crowds to his exhibitions until he retired in 1897. During his career, he won over 300 races and only lost six.

[Crowd's at Hanlan's Point, Toronto, image of Ned Hanlan statue]

One of the first athletes to gain international recognition, Ned Hanlan was a proud Canadian who organized his own tours to promote himself and the sport of rowing. In 2003, his statue was relocated to Hanlan's Point in Toronto, Ontario near the waterfront, where it continues to inspire Canadians today.

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