Édouard Fabre

In 1908, Fabre became a member of the Association Athlétique Amateur Nationale, an important French Canadian sporting club later known by the name the Palestre Nationale. Under the colours of Le Nationale, he took part in racing events on foot in summer and on snowshoes in winter.


Édouard Fabre

 Édouard Fabre, (born at Saint-Henri, Que, 21 Aug 1888, died at Montréal 1 Jul 1939). The first runner to arouse the pride of French Canadians, Édouard Fabre took part in the Stockholm OLYMPIC GAMES in 1912 in TRACK AND FIELD, and won the Boston MARATHON in 1915.

In 1908, Fabre became a member of the Association Athlétique Amateur Nationale, an important French Canadian sporting club later known by the name the Palestre Nationale. Under the colours of Le Nationale, he took part in racing events on foot in summer and on snowshoes in winter.

In the summer of 1910 he scored his first significant victory in a 16 km race in Ottawa, followed by another victory in an 8 km event organised by the Montréal Police Athletic Association. He continued on his stride in January 1911 when he scored a record in the 10.4 km "steeplechase" held under the auspices of the newspaper La Presse.

During that winter, the directors of Le Nationale suggested that he train in long distance running to be in shape for the Boston Marathon, an event that was on its way to becoming the most important race in North America. On 19 Apr 1911, Fabre proved himself among the best runners in America by finishing with a third place in Boston the very first time he took part.

The next year, at that same event, he improved his time by three minutes but had to be content with eighth place. One month later, in Hamilton, he qualified for the Canadian team in the Stockholm Olympics.

On 14 Jul 1912, the Olympic Marathon runners suffered from the heat. Half of the pack of 64 runners did not finish the race that took place in a temperature of 30º Celsius. Still, Édouard Fabre did well, completing the event in 11th place and ranking second among the three Canadians present.

After a fifth place in the Boston Marathon in 1913, he was back in force the next year when he placed second to Canadian James Duffy by 15 seconds.

After this race, he lost his amateur status for taking part in a PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING match. His one year suspension imposed by the AMATEUR ATHLETIC UNION OF CANADA (the national organization that managed the amateur code), was reduced to six months when thousands signed a petition to lessen it.

Then on 19 Apr 1915, the Montréal runner delighted his supporters by becoming the first French Canadian to win the Boston Marathon. Several months later, he did it again with a victory at the San Francisco Marathon that was part of the Panama Pacific Exposition. On Fabre's return to Montréal, despite the late hour, more than 5,000 people met him at the Grand Trunk (railway) Station.

He enrolled in the Canadian army in 1916, and contracted the Spanish FLU in 1918. To cap it off, he underwent two operations in 1919. In early April 1921, he took up the marathon habit again placing third in Detroit and sixth in Boston a few weeks later. He competed for the last time in 1928. Meanwhile, in April 1925, he took part in an exhibition race at the Montréal Forum with the famous Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi, winner of five gold medals at the Paris Olympics in 1924.

In February 1930, at the age of 44, Fabre realised his greatest feat when he won a 300 km snowshoe race, closely fought in six stages from QUÉBEC to Montréal. During the final leg, more than 75,000 people assembled between Assomption and the end of the race at Montréal Forum to cheer on the valiant snowshoer.

In 1937, when the celebrated runner was stricken by illness and was without means, the Montréal Athletic Commission raised funds in his aid.

At his death on 1 Jul 1939, Québec lost one of its greatest athletes of the early 20th century. Édouard Fabre was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1964.


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