ONONDAGA COGWAGEE (TOM LONGBOAT) DIED—FAMED LONG-DISTANCE RUNNER
Born June 4, 1887, on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario, Longboat was forced into Canada’s residential school system. Refusing to speak English or adopt Christianity, Tom left. He began running competitively as a teen in Ontario. At age 20, Tom became the 1st First Nations runner to win the Boston Marathon, shaving 5 minutes off the previous record. He was greeted by thousands and given the keys to Toronto upon his return. Longboat only lost 3 races in his running career and was one of the most celebrated athletes of the pre-World War era. In 1916, he served with the Canadian forces in France where he ran messages and orders between units-and continued to win inter-battalion running contests. He was also wounded twice. Longboat, who died on the Six Nations Reserve, was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1955. Starting in 1951, the “Tom Longboat Awards” annually recognize Aboriginal athletes for “outstanding contributions to sport in Canada.”
Source: “Tom Longboat: Google doodle honours Canadian marathon runner,” BBC News, 6/4/2018. Retrieved 6/27/2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44360826 Photo: Charles Aylett, 1907. Public Domain.