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SC Rewind: Years Ago - 1960s

Published: October 6, 2018 10:01 am ET

Last Comment: October 10, 2018 10:38 am ET | 5 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

This week's Rewind is the ongoing monthly feature Years Ago. This edition features names, faces and happenings from the decade of the 1960s as Robert Smith has assembled some short stories and old photographs to recall those days.

1964 - Retta Herrington Stabled At Rideau Carleton

Miss Retta Herrington, one of the few licensed female drivers in the Canada is currently racing her stable at Rideau Carleton in Ottawa. In a recent interview with a reporter from the Ottawa Journal she shared a few of her thoughts on female drivers and also discussed how she got started in the racing business. The following excerpts were taken from that interview.

"I've never really wanted to do anything else and after training and driving horses I don't think I could find another job with enough work attached to it". Certainly not every woman could handle Retta's job. Her day starts at about 7 a.m. and if she has a horse in a late race it might not end until 2 a.m.

Herrington obtained her driver's licence from the Canadian Trotting Association in 1957. She had her first drive behind Lu Attorney in Peterborough and has been making things tough for her male counterparts ever since. Besides keeping busy training and driving horses, Retta can often be found behind the wheel of a starting gate at the fairs and one-day meets, a task she has been handling capably since 1948.

Retta feels very strongly about the. C.T.A.'s decision to refuse to issue licences to females. "Women should have the right to become licensed drivers just like men," says Retta. "I think there should be more of them. No one can find any fault, with the ones we have." Besides Retta, Rideau Carleton Raceway has another top woman driver in the very popular Mrs. Mildred Williams. Together they continue to outdrive several of the country's top male reinsmen for their share of wins.

1965 - Greenwood Drivers Receive Special Gifts

Carling Breweries Sales Rep. Dave Heggie presents "The Carling Cup" to Greenwood's leading driver George Hawke (second from right). On the far right is Allan Walker second-place finisher and on the far left is Ken Galbraith who finished third. Hawke won 18 races and posted an average of. 506 to win top honours.

When the Greenwood awards were handed out in 1965 the Carling Rep. was on hand to do the honours. A handsome trophy went to a relative newcomer named George Hawke of Toronto who won his first title in just his second year of competitive driving. Also a special gift was presented to each of the three winning drivers compliments of Greenwood Raceway which I would have to say was a bit different.

All three drivers won a set of racing silks and matching red slacks compliments of Greenwood and it was stated in a local press release "They will undoubtedly be the best dressed males at the track as Garden City opens its summer meeting on May 31st."

1965 - Garden City Opens First Full Season

A view of the Garden City layout which featured a very fast fiveeighths mile limestone racing surface.

On Monday, May 31st, Canada's newest harness racing facility Garden City Raceway, located at St. Catherines Ont., kicked off its first full season of operation. This track, now the third harness facility being operated by the Ontario Jockey Club, held its inaugural meeting last fall. Despite the cooler weather and new location, track officials were very pleased with the outcome. This season Garden City will host two extended meetings; the spring session will run until July 17. A fall schedule of six days per week with Sundays dark will begin on September 6 th and run through to October 30th.

Many in the reading audience will probably remember that Garden City was initially a successful operation well positioned to attract both horses and fans from the New York State area. In a relatively short time it proved to be a losing proposition and in 1976 it was closed and never reopened. It was eventually demolished and today I am told not a trace of its former "self" remains. I can personally recall attending the races there every night of the week while working and living in the area.

1967 - Non-Driving Trainer Doing Well

Forty-three year old London native Bill James is currently one of the most successful trainers on the Golden Horseshoe Circuit. Although he has driven for many years he now prefers to leave the driving duties of his stable to a number of accomplished young teamsters such as Bill Wellwood, Allan Waddell and Ronnie Feagan. This appears to be a developing trend in the sport where trainers are devoting their time to just training and hiring catch drivers for race assignments.

James who is part of a well-known racing family was introduced to the sport many years ago by his father Tom James. His brother Lew is currently the O.J.C. Race Secretary while another brother Harold works with Bill assisting in the training duties. By early October the James stable has already won 22 races and banked nearly $23,000 in purse money. At the present time the outstanding three-year-old Tom Jones (not the singer) is the James' stable star. The young son of Adios Judge out of Judy Chief is owned by veteran horseman Gordon Lawrence of Blenheim, Ont.

1969 - New C.T.A. Headquarters Hosts Open House

More than 250 members of the Canadian Trotting Association and the Canadian Standardbred Horse Society, and others associated with harness racing in Canada, attended an open house recently at the C.T.A's new Toronto headquarters. The recently completed facility which now boasts the latest available technology will serve as the headquarters for virtually all administrative activities of the two bodies.

Present for the occasion was Helen B. Watson, widow of the noted harness scribe Hal B. Watson. She recalled the day some forty years earlier when the Trotting Assoc. occupied a one room office located at the corner of Simcoe and Adelaide St. in Toronto. She also remembered that just one person, Mr. W.A. McCullough, was on staff and handled all of the duties. Almost daily a gentleman named Charlie Ray stopped by for a visit around the lunch hour. At this time the lone employee could step out for a short time if he wished and Mr. Ray would answer the phone. This kindly fellow was the brother of Nat Ray the man who won the very first Hambletonian in 1926 driving Guy McKinney.

With a new horse themed mural in the background a group of ladies employed by the C.T.A. and C.S.H.S. pause from their duties to enjoy a bit of socializing during the open house at their new quarters in downtown Toronto. Unfortunately no names were supplied with the photograph. Perhaps someone in the reading audience can identify a few of these gals. (Hoof Beats Sulky Scene)

Happy Thanksgiving to all in the Rewind reading audience. This is a wonderful time of year; I hope that everyone enjoys this day.

Who Is It?

Today's photo quiz is a "Daily Double"

First Half - Can you correctly identify this well known gentleman who was quite active in the sport in days gone by ? He is accompanied by his son in this 1953 photo taken at Thorncliffe Park in 1953 which was that track's final season (Michael Burns)

Second Half - Can you identify the location of this old grandstand and racing scene?

Correct answers to be posted after the second race.

October 10, 2018 - 10:38 amThis week's quiz featured two

This week's quiz featured two old photos . Termed "Daily Double" , the first half was driver Gordon Kitchen following a victory with Dandy Hanover a 14 year old trotter at Thorncliffe Park . His young son was at the horse's head .The owner was Jack Reid of Orono .This venerable U.S. bred trotter was "easing ' into retirement as he made just 61 starts in his final season on the track .
The second half was correctly identified as New Hamburg Ont. and would have been taken on a "Derby Day" during the annual Canadian Pacing Derby held there from 1936 - 1957 .

October 10, 2018 - 8:30 amI too miss beautiful Garden

Luis Willis SAID...

I too miss beautiful Garden City,it sat for years as an empty field but you could faintly make the outline of the oval. Today it is an ugly concrete outlet mall..

October 7, 2018 - 12:41 pmHi Where can we find your


Where can we find your answers from your last week Richelieu Rewind

Thanks to respond

Robert Galardo

October 6, 2018 - 9:24 pmSecond Half - New Hamburg

Sheldon Rose SAID...

Second Half - New Hamburg

October 6, 2018 - 4:42 pmNew Hamburg.

New Hamburg.

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