Women In Sport : Pre-Confederation Newfoundland
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One novelty attracted some attention, the rowing of women upon the lake [Quidi Vidi] in two gigs, a practice hitherto not adopted in St. John’s - (Newfoundland Ledger, 15 August 1856)

In 1856, a crew of women from Quidi Vidi competed against a crew from Southside, St. John’s on the waters of Quidi Vidi Lake. Although St. John’s had held an annual regatta (Royal St. John’s Regatta) since 1818, this race was the first of its kind. It was also the last, until the 1940s. Fortunately, the local newspapers reported the event, and recorded the winning boat and crew for posterity.

It was almost another century before women participated again in the St. John’s Regatta. In 1941, members of the American military took part in the races, including crews of WAF (Women in the Air Force). Further initiatives to include women in the races were rebuffed. A 1945 newspaper column “Notes on the Regatta” reported the decision of the Regatta Committee not to include a “Ladies’ Race” in the Victory Regatta. In 1949, the decision was overturned, and four crews of women competed in the historic event. The spectators gathered to cheer the women on numbered well over 8,000, one of the largest crowds reported at Quidi Vidi Lake.

Apart from the St. John’s Regatta, women sometimes participated in rowing competitions held during church picnics. Other Newfoundland towns also held their own “Day at the Races.” In the 1940s, for example, Harbour Grace hosted a Ladies’ Race at its Regatta. The St. Joseph's Parish Regatta was very popular in the 1930s and also included a women's race.


SANL 1.502.151

Bowring’s Ladies Championship Crew
St. John’s Regatta, 1949

Pat Ring (Coxswain), Olive Wiseman, Dinah Martin, Joan Dowden, Louise Wiseman, Elaine Noseworthy, Dallas Cornick

SANL 1.502.130

Quidi Vidi Ladies Crew
Winners of Ladies Race (1930)

First Row, left to right:
Kathleen Maher, Susan Mallard, Hanna Hennebury, (Coxswain Art Snow), Queen May

Second Row, left to right:
Margaret Morris and Dolly Byrne

Missing from photo is Margaret Bragg


Audio Women At The Royal St. John's Regatta
Audio Royal St. John's Regatta