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Sketches of Canada for April 19th!

Canadian History for Kids: Tom Longboat

April 19, 1907 – Six Nations Onondaga marathon runner Tom Longboat wins the 11th Boston marathon.

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive, looks at an amazing Canadian, Tommy Longboat.

This Canadian History for Kids fact starts with Longboat born at Ohsweken, on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario, on July 4, 1887. His Onondaga Indian name was Cogwagee. When he began to race competitively, he developed the ability to save enough energy to sprint just before the finish line. This became the amazing feature of his racing style.

Longboat’s first important road race took place in 1906 when he won the “Around the Bay” marathon in Hamilton, Ontario. Winning that event made him an instant celebrity and clearly established him as one of the favourites for any long-distance race he would enter.

Another Canadian History for Kids fact is how Tom Longboat won the 1907 Boston Marathon in the record time of 2:25:004, to became the world’s premier marathoner. He also won Toronto’s famous Ward’s Island Marathon from 1906 through 1908.

Before winning the world famous Boston Marathon in 1907, Tom Longboat was unsuccessfully challenged by Lewis Edwin Marsh at Hamilton’s popular Irish-Canadian Games. A former aid and coach of Longboat, Marsh is best remembered each year as Canada’s top male and female athletes are presented with the annual Lou Marsh Trophy.

He entered the Olympic marathon in London, England, in 1908 but unfortunately collapsed after twenty miles, along with several other leading runners, and a rematch was organized the same year at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Longboat won this race, turned professional, and in 1909 at the same venue won the title of Professional Champion of the World in another marathon.

This Canadian History for Kids article continues during World War I where Longboat served as a dispatch runner in France and raced professionally as often as possible. After the war Longboat returned to Canada and settled in Toronto where he worked until 1944. He retired to the Six Nations Reserve and died of pneumonia on January 9, 1949.

Longboat’s achievements as a marathoner, prior to World War I, brought him recognition as one of Canada’s greatest athletes. On July 17, 1985, Parks Canada unveiled a plaque at the Six Nations Sports Centre commemorating his superb career as one of the world’s premier Marathon runners.

And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!

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