It’s great to see Canadiana in the mighty Google’s great “Google Doodle” feature today, as they are honouring Tom Longboat, an Onondaga distance runner from the Six Nations Indian reserve near Brantford, Ontario; who for much of his career, was the dominant long distance runner of the time.
Today would be the 131st birthday of Longboat, whose career was marked by numerous titles and broken records. He won the Boston Marathon in 1907 at just 19 years old, and broke the previous record by a full five minutes in doing so.
Did you know that Boston Marathon champ Tom Longboat of Canada is today’s @Google Doodle? In honor of what would be his 131st birthday, Google is recognizing the 1907 Boston champ & legendary Onondaga Nation runner! Longboat was a member of the First Nations. pic.twitter.com/6a91UJt63e
— Boston Marathon (@bostonmarathon) June 4, 2018
Thomas Charles Longboat was born June 4, 1887. his Iroquois name was Cogwagee, which means “everything”. He was also known as the “Bulldog of Britannia”. In his four years as an amateur runner, Longboat only lost three races.
In 1916, Longboat gave up his running career to enlist. He served as a dispatch runner in France in the First World War, and was wounded twice during his service. He was even declared dead.
But Longboat returned to Canada in 1919, and lived out the rest of his life quietly. He worked for the City of Toronto, before returning to the Six Nations Reserve. He died in 1949 at the age of 62.
CBC did a great piece on Longboat as part of their Canada 150 celebrations.
Quartz also ran a great blog today featuring some great classic photos of Longboat.
In 2008, June 4th was officially declared “Tom Longboat Day” in Ontario.