The Beginning of a Legacy: The Paris Crew

The Paris Crew was a group of four men from Saint John, New Brunswick named George Price, Elijah Ross, Samuel Hutton, and Robert Fulton. Elijah Ross was a lighthouse keeper and the others were fishermen. They would row together on the Saint John River after work and on weekends. They won lots of races in Saint John so they decided to go to a big race in Paris in 1867.

This race was important because people from all over the world were there. Men from a lot of different countries were going to be racing. It was at this race that the Paris Crew got their name. Nobody thought they could row and people made fun of them because they were wearing pink hats and brown suspenders.

The Paris Crew won the first race of the day by a lot and everyone was very surprised. They won every other race that day too. Canada was very proud of them because they were the first International Champions from Canada.

An International Champion is someone who wins an event (like a race or a game of hockey) where people from all over the world compete.

When the Paris Crew came home to Saint John there was a big party. Everyone was very happy and very excited. When people rowed in races they bet money on who would win. Since no one thought the Paris Crew would win no one except people from Saint John bet on them. So, people in Saint John won a lot of money.

The Paris Crew won every race for the next three years. Then one day in 1870 they were racing against James Renforth in Quebec. James Renforth was from England and with him he had three other Englishmen. The day of the race the water was very choppy and dangerous. The Paris Crew lost the race. They said it was because of the bad weather.

The next year the Paris Crew challenged James Renforth to another race to prove they were better. James Renforth agreed and so in 1871 on the Kennebecasis River in New Brunswick the "Great Race" took place. There was a lot of money bet on the race because everyone from England believed that James Renforth and his crew were the best and everyone from Canada believed that the Paris Crew was the best.

The day of the race almost everyone from Saint John went to Renforth (which was then called The Chalet) by train, car, horse and buggy, sailboat, or steamboat. There were thousands of people watching from the shore and thousands more watching from boats on the water. It was the biggest event in Saint John's history. Everyone was very excited.

The water was very calm when the race was set to begin. When James Renforth and his crew appeared the crowd clapped but when the Paris Crew came out wearing their pink hats and brown suspenders the crowd went wild!

They started the race and the Paris Crew was ahead by quite a bit. Renforth's crew decided to row really quickly for a few minutes but once they started James Renforth stopped rowing. He fell back into the arms of one of his teammates. They stopped racing and rowed James Renforth to shore.

At the shore everyone was very upset because they thought that James Renforth had given up. His teammates were upset because they knew that James Renforth was hurt. They rushed him to their doctor who took him to a nearby hotel where he was staying. After a few hours he died. The doctor wasn't sure of the reason but problems with his heart were blamed because they thought he had over exerted himself.

Everyone was very upset when they learned that James Renforth was dead. All of the celebrations that were scheduled for that night were canceled. England was extremely upset. James Renforth had been their best athlete and they were very proud of him. Some people thought that James Renforth had been poisoned but the doctor said there was no poison in his body.

Thirty years after James Renforth died. The Chalet decided to change their name to Renforth to honour the famous rower.

After the race between the Paris Crew and James Renforth the Paris Crew kept rowing. They were successful for four more years and then they lost a race and then in 1876 they won one race and then lost to a crew from Halifax. That was the last race they rowed together.

The rowers still rowed separately for a few years and were successful. Elijah Ross joined another group of four rowers and they were very successful but none of them had as much success as they had as the Paris Crew.