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Tom Longboat at High Park toboggan hill, Toronto, 1909. Image: City of Toronto Archives

The interior of The Great Hall, 1087-1089 Queen Street West, a property nominated for the 2017 Heritage Toronto Awards.

Detail of pattern-tile ceiling, Longboat Hall, The Great Hall, November 5, 2017. Image by Herman Custodio

  • Tom Longboat

    Tom Longboat enlisted to serve in World War I at the age of 29. He served as a dispatch carrier with the 107th Pioneer Battalion in France, running messages and orders between stations. He continued to participate in inter-battalion sporting contests, winning many of them. Notably, he won the eight-mile race at the 1918 Canadian Corps Dominion Day competitions. Longboat was wounded twice during his service. There were rumours and instances where he was declared dead, but he survived the war and returned to Canada in 1919.

    Longboat’s service in the war highlights the contributions of Indigenous Canadians to our war efforts. Despite facing discrimination and challenges at home, many Indigenous individuals volunteered to serve overseas, exhibiting their dedication and commitment to a country that did not always treat them fairly. Longboat broke barriers in the world of sports, challenging and overcoming racial prejudices of his time.

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  • Tom Longboat

    The commemoration of Tom Longboat aligns with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action regarding sports and reconciliation (87-91); however, much more can be done to tell the national story of Indigenous athletes in Canadian history.

    Learn more about Tom Longboat at the Heritage Toronto plaque, located outside the Great Hall in Toronto at 1087 Queen Street West, where Longboat trained for the Olympics and Boston Marathon.

    Additional Resources:

    Six Nations of the Grand River Website 

    Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario (ISWO) Website

    Aboriginal Sport Circle Website 

    North American Indigenous Athletics Hall of Fame 


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