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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

GEORGE BROWN

Inducted in 1956

Member Details

Date of Birth: February 7, 1839
Place of Birth: Herring Cove, Nova Scotia
Date of Passing: July 8, 1875
Sport: Rowing
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1864-68

5 straight Cogswell Belts as Halifax single-scull champion

1871

2nd place finishing to world champion Joseph Sadler at Halifax Aquatic Carnival

Honoured Member GEORGE BROWN
Inspire

Story

An able-bodied fisherman from Nova Scotia, George Brown easily transferred his rowing skills from the fishing dory to the single shell. With a number of significant local and international victories between 1864 and 1874, Brown brought glory to his native fishing town of Herring Cove and established himself in the ranks of Canadian heroes. During the late 1800s, professional rowing was an esteemed sport in the Maritimes, each competition attracting thousands of spectators. Brown lost his first single-scull championship in Halifax in 1863. The following year, however, he was victorious, took the coveted Cogswell Belt, and held on to his title for five consecutive years. So dominating was he that he was finally told to keep the prize permanently. The year 1871 saw the beginning of the Halifax Aquatic Carnival, an event which attracted international scullers from England and the United States. Brown found himself competing with some of the world's finest rowers, but he still managed to finish a mere four seconds behind world champion Joseph Sadler. While Brown did not succeed in beating the champion sculler, Sadler consistently refused to race against him after this narrow victory. Perhaps Sadler's fears of defeat were justified as Brown went on to conquer numerous international rowing greats over the next two years. In July 1873, he beat Robert Fulton of the famed Paris Crew and in September he defeated American champion John Biglin at the Bedford Basin. In 1874, Brown continued to dominate the waters, defeating American singles champion William Scharff in July and American Evan Morris in September. The race between Brown and Scharff sparked so much excitement that bets were taken on the outcome in Halifax, Saint John, Springfield, Boston, Pittsburgh, and New York. It was estimated that over $250,000 was wagered, and it is said that Brown himself gambled his whole life savings on his own victory. Luckily for him, he did, indeed, win. Joseph Sadler finally agreed to row against Brown in 1875. While training for this race, however, Brown suffered a stroke that put an end to his life. His career was cut short, but his fantastic feats still stand out in the history of Maritime sport. A monument was erected at Herring Cove in his honour.


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