It is a short run from my door to the Rideau Canal and not much further from there to where the sun on a bright day in May dazzles the diamond expanse of Dow’s Lake and leads round in its beckoning way to Hartwells Locks and on to Hog’s Back Falls. The runners of Ottawa know this trail as they know few others, its images committed to memory. They know where urban fishermen dangle their lines, where lovers nestle, where the students of Carleton University fret over books and where the tumbling white of Hog’s Back first hoves into view.
I usually turn there, glistening with sweat, and swing back through Vincent Massey Park, a placid refuge where squirrels scatter and fountains sparkle and pines in lordly silence rise against the sky. If George Sheehan is right, and we should trust no thought arrived at sitting down, then this five-mile journey is as good a place as any to decide to write a book.
The idea at the outset was to compile the stories of the eleven largely-forgotten Canadians, dating back to 1900, who have won the Boston Marathon. Along the way, as simple ideas have a habit of doing, the book expanded into a chronicle of the early years of road racing and marathoning in Canada, and it also became, from a uniquely Canadian perspective, the story of the development of the Boston Marathon from a bizarre local footrace to a world-renowned sports spectacle.
A friend cautioned as the book was being completed to beware of acknowledging contributors. “There are always so many,” he said. “You can’t possibly remember everyone.” As the author of several books himself, Barry Wilson should know. Yet I feel compelled to name some of the individuals to whom I am most indebted, Barry included.
I extend special thanks to The Canada Council which assisted with research expenses, to the unflaggingly cheerful staff in the newspaper microfilm section of the National Library, and to the nameless legions of journalists whose work from bygone years made this book possible.
My thanks also to Richard Gwyn and Ian Urquhart of The Toronto Star, Terrance Wills and Andrew Phillips of the Montreal Gazette, Peter Bregg of The Canadian Press, Bill Armstrong, Bernice Solomon and John Curtin of Canadian Runner, Jean Tebbut of the Hamilton Spectator, Earl Gouchie of the Amherst Daily News, Joe Concannon of the Boston Globe, Gilles Chiasson of the Sport Information Resource Centre in Ottawa, Tom West of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, Michael Cobb of Veterans Affairs Canada, John Paveling of Public Archives Canada, Alice Connolly of the Prudential Insurance Company, Charles Longley of the Boston Public Library, the executive of the Boston Athletic Association, the staff of the Nova Scotia Public Archives, the Hamilton Public Library, the Metropolitan Toronto Library and the Library of Parliament, and to Bill Rodgers, Eleanor Thomas, Byron Tindel, Yuvaraj Dufresne, Del Carrothers, Doug Long, Dr. John Miles Williston, Eva Blaikie, Mr. and Mrs. Matti Komonen, Mary Caffery, John and Bess Miles, Gerard Cote, Jacqueline Gareau, Gilles Lapierre, Dorothy Cameron, Walter Young and Jerome Drayton.
Finally, this book would not exist without the support and inspiration of four special people: Connie Salamone of Brooklyn, New York, Alan Wright of Rimouski, Quebec, Joe Henderson of Eugene, Oregon, and Susan Rosidi, my adviser, best friend and partner in life.