The Lou Marsh Legacy - Honouring Canada's Top Athletes

Lou Marsh

The Athlete

1926 Birely Cup medal won by Lou Marsh

A gold medal from the L.S.S.A ANNUAL REGATTA. On the back of the medal an engraving reads "1926 BIRELY CUP - FIRST LOU E. MARSH N.Y.C." Date 1926 CollectionCanada's Sports Hall of Fame

His athletic resume contains few gaps. It is of a man consumed with sport. Naturally muscular and strong, Lou Marsh was well suited to many sports.

His physique was predisposed to sprinting; reputedly he ran the 100 yards in 10.24 seconds. Marsh coached and ran with Bobby Kerr, one of Canada's best sprinters and once trumped him in a hurdle race. He coached the great marathon runner Tom Longboat at his victory in the 1907 Boston Marathon.

In rugby football, the robust Marsh started as an inside wing with the Wellesley Juniors, and finished as a quarterback with the Toronto Argonauts.

It was on or in the water he seemed happiest. He swam like a duck and once battled the swift currents of the Niagara River from Lewiston, New York, to Queenston, Ontario, on a bet. Walking back across the Lewiston Bridge to collect, he took on another dare, this time a swim to the bell buoy off the Niagara mouth and back, a distance of 14 miles.

Bronze medal with Lou Marsh engraved in the centre

A rectangular bronze pin with "L. MARSH" engraved in the centre. Date 1920's CollectionCanada's Sports Hall of Fame

He loved to sail sloops in the summer; ice-boats in the winter. He coined the term "sea-flea" to characterize small outboard racing boats that buzzed about the Toronto shoreline. Marsh owned and raced seven sea-fleas each named 'Pick and Shovel' (I, II, III etc.).

A capable boxer, a decent baseball player, he also indulged regularly in golf. To the delight of his readers he created 'wambeazles,' 'whiffenfish,' and other fictitious creatures to describe his adventures when he took up angling and fishing later in life.

Gold lapel pin inscribed with CNE Press

Gold CNE Press Pin. Date 1920's CollectionCanada's Sports Hall of Fame

Marsh distinguished himself as a first-rate referee in boxing, wrestling, and hockey. In the latter he worked the gamut from the amateur ranks to the NHL. He refereed the first professional NHL game at Madison Square Gardens in December, 1925 and officiated at the 1932 Olympics.

A fearless referee he was never afraid to "call 'em as I see 'em." In the Northern Ontario Hockey Association, partisan small-town crowds often blamed the referee for a loss. He exited countless arenas by the back door or window, sometimes still wearing skates, to avoid hostile mobs. In fact, it was in the northern leagues that his patented cow-bell was introduced to keep boisterous games under control. That stern patented jerk of the thumb over his shoulder, that motioned a delinquent player to the penalty box, has been immortalized into a statue.

That a trophy for outstanding athlete also bears his name seems quite appropriate!

In the news

“Fair, Fearless Sportsman” Is Tribute to Lou Marsh Adobe PDF Transcript