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Calgary – 1983- The Black Trophy

Author : Graham Barton

Introduction : This story was found on the special page of the CKC website on this special trophy. The Black Trophy is awarded to the Men C4 1000m at the National Championship for decades now and is an important part of history of our sport in Canada. Mr. Barton remembers the 1983 race when he paddled for the win with the North Bay Canoe Club

Story: Here is a stab at a story for our crew. Unfortunately I have lost contact with the boys. One of them sadly died way too young succumbing to an allergy.

When I look back on my time with North Bay I have very fond memories of the experience. In many ways it was like paddling at the cottage. Summers putting on the kilometers while enjoying the camaraderie of the athletes and staff. While this may sound relaxing the spirit of excellence in the club was not lacking. There was a long history of success, former Olympians and a strong high performance program. In 1983 we knew we had a strong group and felt we had a chance at the Burgee even although we knew that Burloak was the favorite. We had a good lead going into the last afternoon of the National Championships with more than a dozen National Championships secured. However we could not make up for the depth in the Senior ranks that the Burloak brought down the course that afternoon so North Bay had settled for second. One of the races that made the event even more special was winning the Black. This was my second opportunity with a crew that had the potential to win.

Almost a decade earlier paddling for West Rouge at the time we had a great local battle going on with the eventual winners from Balmy Beach. Although total wins were in our favor going into the Championship we edged out of the lane between two buoys and were disqualified. Of course as you age the story always gets better and short of lightning hitting us which in our minds is exactly what happened, we would have, of course, won that race had we not been disqualified. When I had a chance again in 1983 to challenge for the Black, we did not want to let this one slip through our hands. With teammates Scott Brough, John Armstrong and David Tafel we had a string of strong victories going into the Nationals. Our competition came from an Olympic Gold Medalist and his crew. We did not meet in the heats and our times were similar so we knew we had a fight on our hands. To be honest we were a little intimidated knowing Alwyn Morris was in the other boat. It was a tough race but we held on to win. The feeling of knowing that we had won the Black is one that only Black winners can know. The Black became a focal point of all the success that day. It did not take away from all the other National Champions who contributed to the success of the club that year but the Black is just too big and too prestigious to not take centre stage. There were Black parties to celebrate; there was much reminiscing with previous Black winners. The Black is a part of our heritage and for those of us who have enjoyed the sport of paddling for most of our lives the Black holds a special place in our heritage and our memories.

This Black story is in memory of Scott Brough who was taken from us far before his time and to Dave and John who encouraged me in every race to “pick up the stroke rate”.