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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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This collection consists of various items related to the career of the Paris Crew.. There is a photograph taken at Southampton, England, in 1867 just before they left for France. It includes information about the crew and the races as well as the names of their business manager (Sheriff Harding) and the spare man (Robert MacLaren). There is an agreement between James Renforth and 3 other English oarsmen and the Saint John crew which outlines details of the Anglo-Canadian boat race of 23 August 1871 and sets a prize of £500. A map showing the course is also included.
An official program commemorating the 50th anniversary of the race between the Paris Crew and the Tyne Crew of England provides considerable information about the rowers. There is also a certificate of induction into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame, 3 June 1972. Miscellaneous ephemera includes 2 copies of the "Rowing Song" performed at the Mechanics Institute, Saint John, in 1868, a photocard reproduced from the 1867 photograph, a press clipping of information about the Great Boat Race and poetry by Byron DeWolfe.
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