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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

CLAUDE SAUNDERS

Inducted in 1982

Member Details

Date of Birth: January 25, 1912
Place of Birth: Hamilton, Ontario
Date of Passing: April 30, 2007
Sport: Rowing
Member Category: Builder

Career Highlights

1934, 1935

National 8's titles

1936, 1948

Member, Olympic Rowing Team

1940

Henley National Junior Double Sculls Title

1944

Henley Single Sculls Title

1948

President, Leander Boat Club

1958-98

Chairman, Royal Canadian Henley Regatta

1960

FISU referee

Manager, Canadian Olympic Rowing Team

1978, 1979

Manager, Canadian World Championship Rowing Team

Honoured Member CLAUDE SAUNDERS
Inspire

Story

Through tireless efforts, patient encouragement, and dedicated leadership, Claude Saunders helped to establish rowing as one of the healthiest and popular sports in Canada. He promoted an increased national participation in the sport as well as an international reputation for excellence in competition and officiating. Saunders, better known as "Sandy," was an outstanding oarsman in his youth with the Leander Boat Club in his native Hamilton. He stroked the eights to the national title in 1934 in 1935 and represented Canada at the Olympic Games in 1936 and 1948. He won the Henley national junior double sculls in 1940, and, in 1944, he claimed the Henley single sculls title. Sandy retired from competition following the 1948 Olympics but remained involved with his hometown rowing club. After being named its president in 1948, Sandy was instrumental in rebuilding and expanding the Leander Boat Club, which had fallen on hard times in the wake of the Second World War. Throughout the next three decades, Saunders expanded his efforts to encompass the development of rowing programs across the country. He encouraged the development of regional rowing associations as well as high school rowing programs. This led to the establishment of the Secondary School Rowing Association in the mid 1950s which provided the first secondary school national athletic championship in Canada and spawned an early interest in the sport among young people. In 1958, he became regatta chairman of what is now known as the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta. He ran the event for 40 years, during which time he transformed it from a small competition to an international five-day festival, one of the largest regattas in North America. Saunders also raised the standards and improved the reputation of Canadian rowing competitions by helping to establish officiating standards among Canadian judges. In addition, Saunders was a strong advocate for the participation of women in the sport. When women's rowing was introduced in 1972, he saw that it was incorporated directly into the Royal Canadian Henley, rather than establishing a separate organization. This helped to increase participation among female rowers and immediately integrated women into the established competitive community. In 1957, Saunders became president of the Canadian Association of Amateur Oarsmen (now known as the Canadian Amateur Rowing Association), and in 1960 he became Canada's first FISA licensed referee. He was manager of Canada's rowing team at the 1960 Olympics where they claimed a gold and a silver medal, and team manager once again at the world championships in 1978 and 1979. Canadian rowing wouldn't be where it is today if it weren't for the dedicated and groundbreaking administrative work of Claude Saunders. For his contributions to the sport, Sandy was named to the Order of Canada in 1992. In his honour, Rowing Canada established an award bearing his name which is bestowed each year upon the Canadian rower who has best exhibited voluntary services towards their club and their sport.


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