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SC Rewind: In Days Of Yore

Published: August 29, 2020 11:30 am ET

Last Comment: September 3, 2020 9:02 am ET | 9 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

In this week's edition of Rewind Robert Smith takes a very long trip back in time as he displays a collage of vintage pictures from the long and colorful past of harness racing.

These old pictures give a nod to the past and show what our sport looked like way back when. Each of the old photos include a short caption to briefly explain the subject matter.


This very old undated photo is titled "A Close Finish N.Y., State Fair". I have no idea of the year but it looks to have some age on it. It is interesting to see how elaborate the judge's stand and surrounding area were. On the left side of the stand the words "Dan Patch" can be seen in very faint letters (I think that's what I see)


This 1952 photo shows a panoramic view of a field of horses in the stretch at Quebec City. This was taken on a Sunday afternoon and the gathering was huge. (Photo courtesy of Sheldon Segal)


In the old days of racing when an accident occurred on the track fans and bystanders invariably rushed onto the scene to try to assist in restoring order. The chaos that ensued at times was almost as bad as the accident.


This great oldie dated 1889 is a rather rare shot of the finish of a race in the high wheeled sulky era. It indicates the picture was taken at Hartford, Conn. and shows the names and order of finish of the first four horses. Nelson, one of the horses mentioned here, appears elsewhere in today's Rewind in the old program from 1892. Time of the mile 2:17 1/2.


Over one hundred years have passed since the era of Dan Patch but the name of this famous horse still lives on. Here the great Dan appears at Grand Forks, South Dakota in 1909 where a huge crowd assembled to watch this wonder horse in action. I am amazed at how modern his all white sulky appears. Most of this horse's appearances were in exhibition races or special events as little competition existed for a traditional race.


A recent Rewind talked a lot about the past of harness racing at the Ottawa Valley Town of Shawville, Quebec. The above undated photo is identified as being taken at the Shawville track. Based on the sulky style it would have probably been taken around 1900 or so. The early low wheel sulkies positioned the driver much higher than the ones that followed. The term "Tail Sitter", which is an old name for a driver, was said to have originated from this very early sulky.


A horse named Kalol appears with his driver J.M. Nichols at the Montague track in this 1906 photo (Photo courtesy of Jerry McCabe)


A full grandstand at Montague takes in a day of harness racing in this 1915 photo (Photo courtesy of Jerry McCabe)

Montague, a small town in P.E.I., has a long and rich history in Canadian harness racing including the introduction of the photo finish camera in 1947. The above two photos were taken at the Montague track as dated.


The photo of the above program is the oldest one I have on file. It is dated 1892 and was for a race day at the famous Kite Track at Old Orchard Beach, Maine. A close study shows some interesting information including the purse amounts which were unusually high for 128 years ago. It also included an ad for beer at $1.50 per case.


This undated picture was taken at a Southern Ontario location and is typical of a lot of old race days. If you couldn't stand a bit of dust then you better stay home because there was never a shortage. Some locations had water wagons that were used to sprinkle the track but on real hot and dry days their effectiveness was often minimal.

Quote For The Week: This week will be substituted by a short story.

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of doing a Rewind about one of the great horsemen of the modern era, Dr. John S. Findley. It was a lot of fun and quite a learning experience for me personally. Shortly after, I had a cute note from someone who had known "Doc" from way back when and later encountered him in an official capacity as this person eventually served as a racing judge.

The story goes that Doc was racing at Rideau Carleton Raceway on the date of his 65th birthday. Shortly after the race was completed and all the participants were back in the paddock, a call came for Dr. Findley. On the phone was the Presiding Judge. He started off the conversation by wishing him a Happy Birthday but soon added that he had no choice but to impose a $50.00 fine for what he termed "a ridiculously slow quarter" in the just finished race.

Somewhat shocked Doc replied "I thought for sure you were just calling to wish me Happy Birthday, but I suspected something worse...By the way can I wait to pay my fine until after my first pension cheque comes in??"

My thanks to the late Ron McGee for passing this little story along to me.

On the subject of Birthdays, next Wednesday (September 2nd) Dr. John will be observing a special day. This will be No. 96 if my math is correct. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Who Is It?

Can you identify this fellow? Also, just for a little diversity, what vegetable was he closely associated with for many years?

Who Else Is It?

Who is this gent? Can you put a correct name on him? If you can, send it along and be sure to stay tuned for the correct answers during the next week.

September 3, 2020 - 9:02 amThis week's photos were both

This week's photos were both correctly identified. In the upper photo was John Bosworth of Newmarket, Ont., who was known for not only his long time involvement in harness racing but also his many decades as a potato farmer. In the lower photo was Norm Campbell, a man who successfully managed two careers, one as an accomplished trainer and driver as well as being a Union Gas service technician for many years. Both men are now gone but their memory remains.

August 30, 2020 - 1:15 pm#2 Norm Campbell from

Bob Belore SAID...

#2 Norm Campbell from Thorndale, On.

August 29, 2020 - 8:24 pmThe Big B John Bosworth in

The Big B John Bosworth in photo 1

August 29, 2020 - 7:26 pm#2 Norm Campbell

Bill Harris SAID...

#2 Norm Campbell

August 29, 2020 - 6:01 pmBig B Potatoes Mr John

Big B Potatoes Mr John Bosworth..... the best horseshoe player i have ever meet.. Not sure of the second picture
Ron Bosada

August 29, 2020 - 5:34 pmJoe Obrian Shelley Goudreau ?

Kevin Morris SAID...

Joe Obrian
Shelley Goudreau ?

August 29, 2020 - 3:25 pmJohn Bosworth of Newmarket.

Gord Brown SAID...

John Bosworth of Newmarket. Potatoes. 2nd one very familiar

August 29, 2020 - 2:47 pmThe first one is easy. Big

The first one is easy. Big John, Mr John Bosworth. The Potato Baron. I knew John well. Always had a good Trotter.
As for #2 I won’t embarrass myself as I’m not sure.

August 29, 2020 - 1:51 pmThe 1st picture is the Big B

The 1st picture is the Big B John Bosworth

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