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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

EMILE ST. GODARD

Inducted in 1956

Member Details

Date of Birth: August 15, 1905
Place of Birth: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Date of Passing: March 26, 1948
Sport: Dogsled Racing
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1925-1929

First place, The Pas Dog Derby

1925-1932

Numerous victories over arch rival Leonard Seppala

1932

First place, Demonstration race, Olympic Games

Honoured Member EMILE ST. GODARD
Inspire

Story

Following the First World War, when dogsled racing was at its heights, Emile St. Godard of Manitoba was Canada's most revered champion. Between 1925 and 1935, St. Godard raced approximately 1,500 miles per season, claiming the sport's most significant races across Canada and the United States. St. Godard won his first major race, The Pas Dog Derby, in Manitoba in 1925. One of the world's premier dogsled races at the time, The Pas Dog Derby was a 200-mile event divided into four, daily 50-mile laps. St. Godard dominated the race for the rest of the decade, collecting victories every year until 1929. St. Godard's most thrilling competitions were against his arch rival, Norwegian-American dogsledder Leonard Seppala. Seppala had earned fame throughout the continent after leading his dogs on a treacherous journey to deliver diphtheria serum to the disease stricken town of Nome, Alaska, in 1925. St. Godard and Seppala were pitted against each other annually at the Eastern International Dog Derby in Quebec City. In six years of competition, St. Godard claimed the race four times, while Seppala was victorious twice. The pair also faced off at races in The Pas, Alaska, Minnesota, Laconia, and North Conway, and it was St. Godard who dominated the majority of these competitions. His greatest victory came in 1932, when dogsledding was featured as a demonstration sport at the Olympic Games in Lake Placid. After St. Godard's decisive victory over his long-time rival, Seppala finally acknowledged the Canadian's superiority and ceased to compete with him thereafter. St. Godard was known not only for his winning record, but also for his concern for the well-being of his dogs. He once withdrew from a race just after reaching the homestretch because his dogs were cutting their paws on the jagged ice that covered the trail. In the end, he preferred to relinquish a victory than cause harm to his huskies. Legend has it that his dogs derived their incredible speed and stamina from a steady diet of Lake Winnipeg Goldeye fish. Proving that they were more than just a team, St. Godard fondly referred to this canine clan as his "family." His lead dog, Toby, who was half-husky, half-greyhound, was such an integral part of this crew that, when he was no longer fit for racing, St. Godard retired from competition. St. Godard remains the only dogsled racer to be inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.


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