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


Video Transcript

[Narrator - Rylan Strachan]

[Image of the Fathers of Confederation and Paris Crew rowing]

Only days after Canada became the first colony to gain independence from Britain, a team of four unknown rowers took the international rowing world by storm. This helped to connect and forge a collective Canadian identity to our newly formed nation.

[Image of rowing teams]

Rowing was the most popular sport in Eastern Canada during the 19th century. Organized regattas would draw thousands of spectators. West Saint John, New Brunswick was the home of many young men who rowed homemade boats, including the Paris Crew members.

[Individual images of Robert Fulton, George Price, Samuel Hutton and Elijah Ross]

Robert Fulton, George Price, Samuel Hutton, and Elijah Ross were initially known as the Saint John Four. The team quickly became local favourites and in 1865 they won the provincial title.

[Image of cap worn by Paris Crew, Historica footage of Paris Crew reenactment rowing]

In July 1867, the men journeyed to Paris to compete at the Paris Exposition. Due to their quaint uniforms, antiquated equipment, and unorthodox rowing style, the Europeans thought they did not stand a chance. However, the group won a tight race with the French Gesling team and repeated their performance against the Oxford and London Rowing Club teams the next day.

[Numerous images of the Paris Crew members]

After these victories, the team became known as the Paris Crew. In 1868, they travelled to Springfield, Massachusetts to defend their title of World Champions after the American Ward brothers claimed to be better. Once again, the Crew won and remained undefeated until 1870.

[Drawing of Paris Crew]

After years of success and numerous international awards, the Paris Crew disbanded in 1876.

[Image of Parliament buildings in Ottawa and Canadian Red Ensign]

As the first Canadian athletes, they united a new nation as "our fellow countrymen in name and in fact." They also started a tradition of Canadian rowing excellence that continues in sport today and remains a source of pride.

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