Thursday, 19 April 2012

Tom Longboat

Thomas Charles Longboat, an Onondaga Indian, was born on the Six Nations Reserve outside Brantford on June 4, 1887.  In 1905 he started participating in foot races.  That year he won the Victoria Day race in Caledonia, Ontario.  In 1906, he won the Around the Bay Road Race in Hamilton.  He peaked in 1907, winning the Boston Marathon in a time of 2:24:24, almost five minutes faster than any previous winner.  In 1909, he won another race to become Professional Champion of the World.  He also won the Ward Marathon.

Tom married his sweetheart.  Then he went overseas to serve as a dispatch runner in France during World War I.  Sadly, he was declared dead and his wife remarried.  Tom returned to Canada in peacetime and later remarried as well, having four children with his new wife. 

He had an encore performance when he ran in the Dominion Day race of 1918, winning first prize.  He spent several years working in Toronto and then retired to Six Nations where he died from pneumonia on January 9, 1949.  He was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.

Photo of Tom Longboat with Ward Marathon Trophy courtesy

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