A personal remembrance of the St. Catharines Kiwanis Horse Show based on photos and speeches in the collection of Hartley M. Barlow. By Janis Barlow Presented to Kiwanis Club of St. Catharines.
St. Catharines ‐ Not Just Another One Horse Town
Throughout the 19th and early 20th century, St. Catharines was home to a number of horse race tracks.
It even hosted the Queen’s Plate and harness races like the Grand Match of 1863.
St. Catharines ‐ Highlights of 1927
- Lincoln County Humane Society was reorganized
- Charles E. Patterson, St. Catharines‐based inventor and builder of the world’s first electric street car died
- The Grand Opera House was converted into bowling alleys
- A committee was struck to organize and host a Horse Show in the Phelps Street Coliseum for three days in October. The patrons included the M.P., M.P.P and the Mayor and their wives. The committee included Major and Mrs. H. B. Burgoyne, Mrs. E.E.H. Wright, Lieut.‐Col. and Mrs. A.L. Bishop, Major and Mrs. H. M. Campbell, A.W. Butler, Wm. Newman and Charles Taylor.
- By 1928 the committee organized themselves into the St. Catharines Riding and Driving Club and bought Bill Traver’s farm at the end of Derby Lane (where Kernahan Park School is now).
Representing the St. Catharines Riding and Driving p g g g Club, George D. Newman (1900 ‐1980), was a sponsor and booster of the St. Catharines Horse Show. A former President of theCanadian Hackney Association, he was inducted into the Hackney Hall of Fame in 2004.
Meanwhile, the Kiwanis Club . . .
- In 1954 established an “Old Folks’ Residence” Committee co‐chaired by Dick Robertson and Harry Cavers. There were 60 club members.
- By 1957 Kiwanis was screening applications for apartments and two units were ready for occupancy. There were 84 club members. The Club was desperately trying to raise money to lift the notes members had signed – the club sponsored a touring religious play and wound up further in debt to the tune of $675.
- In 1957, they agreed to partner with the St. Catharines Riding and Driving Club on their outdoor Horse Show. It rained and rained but everyone worked hard and they made a surplus of $1,900.
Rothmans of Pall Mall Canada Sponsorship
Rothmans of Pall Mall Canada became a partner and sponsor of the St. Catharines Show in the 1960’s. They helped to produce a high gloss souvenir program, sponsored the jumping grand prix, offered marketing and media relations support and provided the Rothmans Special Event Caravan which was an Window announcing facility and show office.
Their goal was to create an Olympic stadium atmosphere. They negotiated the first television contract for show jumping in Canada and single handedly raised the credibility and profile of the sport of show jumping to the general Canadian population in the 1970’s.
In 1963, Kiwanis was building two more senior’s units and President Roy Cairns chaired the opening celebration in 1964.
Meanwhile, a new opportunity and a fourth partner for the Horse Show was on the horizon.
Garden City Raceway Opens in 1964
The 400 acre site on Glendale Avenue and Taylor Road was deluxe. It included
barns with 728 box stalls and accommodation for approximately 900 horses.
St. Catharines Standard Page Nine, 1965
In 1965, the Horse Show moved to the new Garden City Raceway and the show dates changed from June to July. Western Horse events were on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday a full range of English Horse events were held – Saddlebreds, Harness Horses, Hunters and Show Jumpers. Western barrel racing and pick up events were crowd pleasers that remained in the evening line‐up.
The main show ring was built in front of the grandstand. A hunter course was laid out on the infield grass. Other judging “rings” were set up as needed during the day on the track or in front of the off‐track temporary standing stall area.
1976 ‐ 1977
- After a mere 12 years in operation it was clear that the Garden City Raceway was not achieving the profits expected, possibly as a result of competition from harness racing tracks in Western New York.
- The Ontario Jockey Club took the decision to shut down the track in 1976. In 1977, the OJC rented the facility to the Kiwanis but it was a much bigger task to get the shuttered facility ramped up for the 50th Anniversary Show.
Horse Show Chronology
1927 – Inaugural 3‐day Horse Show, Phelps Street Coliseum
1928 – Riding and Driving Club buys 13 acres on Queenston St.
1957 – The Club asks Kiwanis to partner on the show A Rothmans sponsorship is acquired at some point
1964 – Riding and Driving Club wants to sell their property
1964 – The Garden City Raceway opens
1965 – The show moves to the new Garden City Raceway
1976 – The Ontario Jockey Club closes the Garden City Raceway
1977 – The show celebrates its 50th anniversary, loses $525 The City rejects a request for support
1978 – Kiwanis announces end of Horse Show operations
Under Kiwanis management, the St. Catharines Kiwanis Horse Show grew from a three day event with 400 horses to the largest outdoor horse show in Canada hosting over 1,200 horses in three or four rings over five days.
The Horse Show raised up to $7,000 per year and $80,000 in total for Kiwanis charities. For the volunteers involved, the Horse Show was about community service, family and friendships but it also helped finance units for seniors.
From a speech in 1955
In closing, let me say I deem it a privilege to be a member of this Kiwanis Club. The law of association teaches us that we become like those with whom we are associated – I can’t think of a group of men with whom I would rather be associated than a group such as this which gives primacy to the human and spiritual values rather than the material values in life. Our services rendered on behalf of others creates a most satisfying responsibility and the emotions one experiences in rendering such services are noble ones. Let us continue to exemplify in our lives everything that’s meant in our motto when we say, “We build.”
H. M. Barlow