Paris Crew

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Paris Crew

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The Paris Crew were 4 fishermen from Saint John, New Brunswick who won a series of international rowing competitions between 1867 and 1873. Their first international event was the World Amateur Rowing Championship, at the International Exposition held in 1867 in Paris. The Saint John crew, composed of Robert Fulton, George Price, Samuel Hutton and Elijah Ross, with their manager Sheriff James A. Harding, travelled to France with the help of money raised by the citizens of Saint John and a donation from the province

The crew was not treated well by the European press who called them "quaint" and "strange looking". Their boat, described in the European newspapers as "a curious old-fashioned outrigger" outweighed the sleek European boats by more than 100 pounds. The Canadians also had an unconventional rowing style with a foot-guided rudder instead of a coxswain. The crowd was astonished that the Saint John team took the first event with ease and in the second event out-distanced the competition by a full three lengths. News of the Paris Crew's victories spread quickly at home. They were greeted by huge crowd with a 21-gun salute, a reception and a cash prize.

In the summer of 1869 the Paris Crew travelled to Lachine, Quebec, Toronto and Niagara to defend their title. In August 1871, the Paris Crew met the English champions on the Kennebecasis River just outside Saint John. They won but their victory was marred by the sudden death of James Renforth, an English sculler, who collapsed from overexertion. The Paris Crew disbanded in 1876 due to disagreement among the members over the ownership of their training boat. They had engaged in no contest since 1873.

Robert Fulton (1844 -1906) was a boatman and tide waiter with the provincial government. Elijah Ross (1845-1920) was born at Parrsboro, Nova Scotia and came to Saint John as a young child. He was considered one of the finest boatbuilders in Saint John, his work including the yachts, "Maple Leaf" and "British Queen". Samuel Hutton (1845-1894) was a boatman with the Department of Customs. He drowned in a yachting accident. George Price (1841-1909) sailed as a Canada Customs officer on the Saint John-Boston liner of the International Steamship Line after his sporting career was over. He was married to Angeline Christopher and they had 4 sons and 4 daughters.

Sources: Brian Flood, Saint John A Sporting Tradition, 1785-1985


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