HISTORY LIBRARY

HISTORY OF TRACK AND FIELD IN ALBERTA AS REMEMBERED
BY DOUG KYLE IN 2011

Track and Field

HISTORY OF TRACK AND FIELD IN ALBERTA AS REMEMBERED

BY DOUG KYLE IN 2011


PRE-1900:

Formal track and field did not start yet, but long distance running races were held set up by promoters, who took bets on the outcome of the races. The distances were usually 10 or 15 miles, and usually run in arenas where the crowd could watch and bet. Deerfoot, an Indian runner, was the most famous runner in Alberta in those days, and won many races against all comers from all over Canada, but often got bilked out of his rightful share of the winnings, as the promoter took more than his share for expenses, he called it. The first recorded track and field meet in Alberta was held in Fort McLeod in 1876 with the RCMP, settlers and Indians participating. The Mounties did this to get the settlers and Indians mixing with each other. Long distance races were also held in Edmonton during this period, just like Calgary, so betting could be done.


TRACKS:

After 1900 tracks were built around the province, mostly in Calgary and Edmonton. The first major track and field facility was built in 1918 in Calgary, and called Mewata Track, as it was next to Mewata Armories. It was a 440 yard shale track and lasted until 1998 or 80 years, when it was demolished for a skateboard facility. Also the Stampeder Football Club played at Mewata until 1960, when McMahon Stadium was built. Canadian Championships were held at Mewata in 1922, 1932 and 1948. Edmonton, Lethbridge, Red Deer and Medicine Hat and other smaller towns followed with building track mainly so they could run their school programs and meets.


TRACK CLUBS:

Small groups with usually one coach trained in the pre- War II era. After the War Clubs sprang up in Edmonton and Lethbridge. In 1958 Carol and Doug Kyle, both track and field athletes from Montreal and Vancouver got married and moved to Calgary so Doug could work in the oil industry. There was no club in Calgary so they formed on and built it into a dynamic club. They were President and Vice-President, and also coached the club along with a few others. In 1969 they moved to Toronto, but left the club in good hands and the club continued to flourish. In 2008 the 50th anniversary was held to a sold out crowd of former and present members. In the late 1960’s the Spartans and Road Runners Clubs started. Today there are about 6 clubs in Calgary and 9 in Edmonton--- plus many around the province in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, etc. The key is to have someone in that town who is willing to coach the potential athletes.

FIELD HOUSES: Edmonton has the only 2 field houses in Alberta that can hold an official track and field meet. Calgary is working to build one, but the funds are still not available. However both Calgary and Lethbridge have indoor training and running facilities associated with the Universities.


OLYMPIANS FROM ALBERTA:

1908 Art Burns, J.T. Fitzgerald

1912 Alex Decouteau

1948 Ernie McCullough, Don Pettie, Lionel Fournier

1952 Jim Lavery

1956 Doug Kyle, Dorothy Kozak

1960 Doug Kyle, Gordon Dickson

1972 Debbie Van Kiekebelt, Ian Gordon

1984 Jillian Richardson, Ian Newhouse

1988 Jillian Richardson, Brian Morrison, Michael Smith

1992 Jillian Richardson, Karen Clarke,, Michael Smith, Tim Berrett

Georgette Reed, Janice McCaffrey, Lisa Harvey

1996 Michael Smith Tim Berrett, Janice McCaffrey

2008 Brian Barnett

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