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Down Memory Lane- Peninsula Inter-Town School Sports

Cecil Lake of Fortune clears the bar at 5ft. 2 inches on Burin Peninsula School Sports Day held at Burin on June 5, 1959. Burin went on to win with the most points over the day’s activities.
Cecil Lake of Fortune clears the bar at 5ft. 2 inches on Burin Peninsula School Sports Day held at Burin on June 5, 1959. Burin went on to win with the most points over the day’s activities.

The Burin Peninsula Inter-Town School Sports Day was a much-anticipated annual event from the mid-1940s up to the early 1960s. School athletes from Burin, Fortune, Grand Bank and St. Lawrence regularly competed, with participants from Garnish, Marystown and Lawn also vying to make their mark.

Andy Crewe of Grand Bank won the high-jump event at the Burin Peninsula School Sports Day competition held in Burin on June 5, 1959.

Initially under the auspices of the Burin Peninsula Athletic Association, the well-organized, one-day affair would be hosted on a rotating basis by the larger towns. Featuring several football games as well as various track and field events, the day would usually conclude with a banquet and dance for the athletes and their supporters in the evening.
I have in my possession two of the eight-page printed programmes for the years 1947 and 1949. The printing cost of these programs was obviously taken care of by local businesses; for example, the 1947 booklet carries 15 individual ads promoting the services and wares of Fortune and Grand Bank entrepreneurs.
In addition to regular larger retail outlets, we see an ad by Eric Stoodley with the headline “Winter Is Coming - sharpen your skates,” and by J. Wilson Osborne, “Blacksmith.”
In 1949, the Town of Fortune hosted the annual sports meet with ads in their program booklet including “South West Coast Bakery - Bread, Cakes, Pastries and Cinnamon Rolls” and “Walter Bennett - Fortune Barber.”
The 1947 Peninsula Schools Sports Day took place at Grand Bank and featured 12 events, including three football (soccer) games, 100- and 220- yard dash races for both girls and boys, plus the high jump, mile run, and tug-of-war. The football matches featured teams of six players each, no doubt due to the smaller playing surfaces available in that era.
At the Grand Bank event in 1947, other attractions for spectators included soft drinks, guessing contests, and bowling (no doubt it was lawn-bowling).
By 1949 the number of events had increased to 15 with a junior category added for all races.
I remember vividly back in the early to mid-1950s when I was a student that the rivalry between Burin and Grand Bank was intense. The athletes would naturally give a 100 per cent plus effort representing their communities, but it was the principals of the schools in the two towns who took centre stage.
Frank Pearce of Burin and John Davis of Grand Bank would go at it verbally, tooth and nail, trying to bend every rule to give their respective team an advantage. It was entertainment to us students to say the least.
In 1958 I began reporting for The Evening Telegram, and this included the annual Peninsula School Sports Day. That year it was held at Grand Bank, with the home team capturing the silverware. In 1959 Burin, with the highest point total, took top honours, while in 1960 St. Lawrence, led by Leonard Slaney, garnered the most points and also took home the football trophy.
In 1959, Hazel Marsh and George Crocker, both of Fortune, were the top point-getters of the day.
In the 1940s the Peninsula Sports Day was held in the fall, whereas by the mid-1950s it was changed and usually took place in June.
Allan Stoodley resides at Grand Bank. He can be reached at amstoodley@hotmail.com and he welcomes comments on this or any other article he has written.
 

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