U of T Olympic 8 Earns Induction into Row Ontario Hall of Fame
The Row Ontario Hall of Fame gained another famous crew on Thursday as the 1924 University of Toronto Eight was announced as the latest inductee into the 2022 Hall of Fame class.
Best known for winning the silver medal at the 1924 Olympics in Paris, the U of T Eight consisted of Norman Taylor, Harold Little, John Smith, Warren Snyder, Robert Hunter, William Langford, Arthur Bell, William Wallace and coxswain Ivor Campbell. Coached by Thomas Loudon, all members of the crew were U of T students who learned to row between 1920-23. They were successful from the outset, winning the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta in each of those four years.
Their success at Henley prepared them for a big year in 1924. The eight got on the water in April and battled through an unseasonably cold and stormy spring on Toronto Bay. On June 14, the U of T crew punched its ticket to the Olympic Games, handily winning the Canadian trials in St. Catharines. The following week, they loaded themselves and their shell onto the CPR steamship Minnedosa for the seven-day crossing to Cherbourg, Paris. From there, they went to the Paris suburb of Asnières to train on the Seine in preparation for their Olympic regatta.
The crew opened the Olympic regatta by finishing in second place to the United States in the preliminary round, which left them competing for a spot in the final in the repechage. They raced against four other boats in the repechage round and came in first place, beating second place Argentina by five seconds. In the final, the Canadians competed against the US, Italy, and Great Britain and finished in second place, again behind the Americans who claimed the gold medal. Their silver medal performance was the best by a Canadian Olympic eight before the Second World War and was the precursor of a proud Canadian tradition of success in the event.
Canada only earned four medals at the 1924 Olympic Games, two of which were in rowing, with the silver in the eight drawing significant public attention. The result made rowing even more popular in Toronto, particularly at the University of Toronto where students flocked to try out in subsequent years. McGill University soon afterwards created a rowing team, and the first Canadian Intercollegiate championships were held in 1926.
One member of the crew, Robert Hunter, was the author of the pioneering book, Rowing in Canada since 1848 and later became head coach of the Leander Boat Club. Stroke William Wallace as well as Warren Snyder, who was also a medical student were recruited to rowing by Loudon from the Varsity Blues football team. The other six members of the crew, like their coach, were all veterans of the First World War.
Row Ontario has been announcing the inductions of the 2022 Hall of Fame class since Monday as part of ‘Hall of Fame Week’. Inductees announced this week include Judy Sutcliffe (Umpire), Paddy Cline (Coach), Max McDonald (Builder), and Joseph Wright Sr. (Heritage – Athlete). Stay tuned for the announcement of the final inductees on Friday.