Wellington County, Ontario GenWeb - Thanksgiving Day Road Races, Guelph
Wellington County GenWeb
Events of Wellington's Past

The History of the
Guelph Road Race Association's

Thanksgiving Day Races

  The Guelph Road Race Association was formed in 1894 by Alex Petrie and William Robinson of the Guelph Herald . The association held annual "foot races" through the downtown streets of Guelph each Thanksgiving Day. The members were encouraged by the manufactures and merchants of Guelph, who donated prizes made in Guelph, and merchandise sold in Guelph. Other citizens made cash contributions to help defray expenses for putting on the meet. Bond's Hardware on St.George's square would often display theprizes and trophy's to be won.

Wyndham Street, Guelph, looking north, c 1950's

   Until at least the 1970's, the Thanksgiving Day Races were considered one of the biggest held in Canada. Entries were received from all over Canada and the United States. The committee's involved with this annual Guelph event had to plan weeks ahead, interviewing the manufacturers, merchants and business men of the city for their co-operation, which had always been the best.

   There were about 20 active members of the committee who all worked hard to make this event a success. There were no paid members, each man taking his position as a goodwill citizen. George H. Pearson passed away in September 1959 after 60 years of service in the organization. The association had some other life members who had given over 25 years of faithful service including Kenneth Ridsdale, a founding member, Charles Vince, Norman Ringler, Harold Western, Wilfred Peer, Gus Murray, Russell Stephens Russell Dennis and Albert Robinson.

Thanksgiving Day Road Racers, beside the City Hall in 1910

   The races would begin at 9:00 a.m. at the intersection ofWyndham and McDonnell streets, near Kelly's Music Store. All the schools in the city would holdcompetitions to choose those eligible students to enter the many races. The foot races included: fifteen mile open race, ten mile walk, ten mile cross country, five mile open, men's two mile race, junior boys three mile open race, girls one mile open, girls junior relay, and girls senior 110 yard dash. Some yearsit would rain and other years it would snow, but most of the time there was beautifulfall weather.

   Ronald Finnigan won several trophies in the mid 1940's and was one of the many winner's in 1946, being the fastest in the 2 milerace. Like many others, his winning prize included a trophy which had his nameengraved on it. These trophies were then once again proudly displayed for the next year to the citizens of Guelph, and then awarded to some of the manyhopeful participants of the next Thanksgiving Day Road Races.

Much information supplied courtesy of Margaret Finnigan and Janice Abdilla

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