School rowing regatta championship trophy on display at St. Catharines Public Library after 29 years in Toronto

Niagara This Week – St. Catharines
Tuesday, April 25, 2006

ST. CATHARINES — The Calder Cleland Memorial Trophy has come home to stay.

For the past 29 years the trophy has been on display at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, returning to St. Catharines each year in June to be presented at the Canadian Secondary School Rowing Association championship regatta.

William Cleland donated the trophy to the Henley Aquatic Association July 27, 1945, and it was competed for originally at the 1946 Royal Canadian Henley Regatta with a crew from St. Catharines Collegiate Institute winning in a time of 5:28.4.

Cleland’s wish was to encourage young men of high school age in a sport which stressed team work, was truly amateur and cleanly competitive and he chose high school eight-oared rowing.

In 1973, when the Henley decided not to run high school races, the trophy was assigned to CSSRA regatta and awarded to the winners of the senior men’s eight.

After nearly three decades at the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in Toronto, the trophy will be on display year-round in its own case at the main branch of the St. Catharines Public Library.

“The Sports Hall of Fame was not a community institution, it is a for-profit business and it went bankrupt,” explained John Lehnen, past president of the Canadian Henley Rowing Corporation. “Our agreement was that we would have it back for a week each year for presentation at the regatta. The other 51 weeks of the year it would be on display and they would cover the cost of insurance. That was fine, but when they went bankrupt we had the trophy and the insurance bill and needed somewhere to house it.”After discussion with members of the library board, Lehnen said it was decided to display the trophy at the library where all of the Henley trophies are.

“The problem, of course, is that we don’t want it to be seen as a Henley trophy,” said Lehnen. “Because it’s not, so it needs to be in its own display case.”The Calder Cleland Memorial Trophy is an Omar Khayyam Wine Jug wrought in sterling silver, inlaid with gold and designed and processed by The Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Guild of London England. It was created as a present to Princess Eugenie, the daughter of the Spanish Count of Montigo, and wife of Louis Napoleon the Third of France in 1853.

William B. Cleland renamed the trophy the Calder Cleland Memorial Trophy in memory of his son, Calder, who was killed in action over Sicily on July 3, 1943, while serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

“The Cleland family are a St. Catharines family and the trophy has been awarded only in St. Catharines and nowhere else so it is fitting that it is on display here,” said Lehnen.

The trophy was unveiled by Al Dunn, who has his name on the award four times. Dunn rowed for Collegiate during the school’s streak of seven consecutive victories (1949-1955) in the men’s senior eight.

“The last time I saw this trophy was in 1952,” said Dunn after unveiling the award. “We were always on the water and it was a long ways away.”