New Brunswick

Rowing race in Heritage Minute reenacted on St. John River

To mark the 150th anniversary of the Paris Crew's rowing victory in France, a reenactment took place on Saturday in Fredericton on the St. John River.

July 8, 1867 race saw 4 Saint John rowers defeat teams from England and France in Paris

Participants in Saturday's reenactment donned clothing similar to that worn at the 1867 race, including the Paris Crew's pink hats. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

In "absurd pink hats and brown suspenders" this weekend rowers in New Brunswick revisited a piece of history many Canadians learned of in a Heritage Minute. 

Three fisherman and a lighthouse keeper from Saint John came together in 1867 to form the rowing team that finished first at the World's Fair Regatta in Paris, defeating the powerhouse teams from Oxford and France.

On Saturday, the Paris Crew, as the team became known after the 1867 victory, took to the St. John River in Fredericton one more time.

Krista Steeves, organizer of reenactment, said the Paris Crew team from Saint John had a different rowing style than other teams. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

"Their boats were heavy, much heavier, twice the weight of the other crews, and people laughed at them. They didn't have sliders, they took short strokes, and they won all their races. So this was Canada's first international victory," said Krista Steeves, organizer of the Paris Crew reenactment.

Famous pink hats

To look the part, the participants donned clothing to resemble that historic race — wool pants, suspenders and fake moustaches as well as the famous pink hats worn by the Paris Crew — Robert Fulton, Samuel Hutton, George Price and Elijah Ross.

The New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame has a display to mark the Paris Crew's 1867 victory in France. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Dreama Galbraith, rowing for the Oxford team, said the historical clothing and warm weather on Saturday were a couple of challenges that the participants would have to overcome.

"Maybe I'll row in a sloppy manner today just to cool off," she said.

World champions

Ken Burke was part of a crowd of people who went to watch the reenactment.

"For a number of years they were world champions, no one could beat them. And so that's a really proud thing that Canadians should remember," he said.

The New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame currently has a display to mark the 150th anniversary of the Paris Crew and the historic race.

With files from Matthew Bingley