The Regatta Hall of Fame was established in 1987. In its first year, two crews and nine individuals were inducted in three categories:
The Regatta draws crowds of up to 50,000 people annually to the shores of Quidi Vidi Lake. It is widely known as “The Largest Garden Party in the World” because it has been about socializing as much as amateur sport.
For more information about the history of the Royal St. John’s Regatta, be sure to visit the Collections Canada website: “The History of the Royal St. John’s Regatta Project”.
Many local historians believe that rowing and sailing competitions between the crews from various ships in the harbour and the local populous pre-date any of the records we have been able to verify. St. John’s, with its magnificently sheltered harbour, had become a growing centre of activity and early settlement in the early 1700’s. The fishing and trading season generally lasted from May to September. This gave the transient and local population only a few months to form summer friendships and raise a challenge to each other’s sailing and rowing skills. The boat racing, which later became our Regatta, came into existence as a natural form of friendly competition among a seafaring people.
The rivalry amongst the crews of the various ships in the harbour sparked both sailing and rowing challenges. Brief early records give reference to the use of “gigs”, “jolly-boats”, and “whale” boats which were used in early competition. A “gig” is defined as: a light, narrow clinker-built ships boat, adapted either for rowing or sailing. Little else is known of a “gig”s dimensions or use. Most of the boats used during this early period were owned by the local merchants.
The very earliest verifiable mention of a rowing competition dates back to 12 August 1816. In its early days the boat races were held over a space of three days, and old-fashioned gigs and yawls and long boats were manned by brawny sailors and fishermen who won monetary rewards and fleeting fame and the plaudits of a merry crowd of holiday makers.
In the early years challenges were for either sailing or racing. Crews and boats had to be classified or matched so that all challenges could be met. Sailing matches were initially held in the Harbour with rowing matches reserved for Quidi Vidi. Eventually all races moved to Quidi Vidi, perhaps to avoid interfering with a busy port’s activity and possibly to accommodate the growing crowds of spectators so eager to watch the festivities.
In 1966, Jack Reardigan was interested in sliding seat rowing. He consulted Gerry Angel, then President of the St. John’s Regatta Committee, to see if sliding seat rowing could be introduced into Newfoundland. With much opposition, Gerry sent Reardigan to Wyandotte, Detroit, to purchase the first coxed four sliding seat shell. This shell was later used to train a crew to compete in the first Canada Summer Games in Halifax.
Long before Newfoundland was granted a Representative Government there was Regatta in St. John’s. The Royal Gazette in its issue of 6 August 1816 records the arrival in the port of St. John’s of:
the sloop, George
the schooner, Elizabeth
the brigantine, Fame
the brig, Azores
the brig, Unanimity
the brig, Lightning
In the same issue of the Royal Gazette there is a report on a rowing match (which) will take place on Monday next between two boats upon which considerable bets are depending. They are to start at half past one o’clock from alongside the prision ship. The prision ship was moored in the harbour and there are references to boat races being held on the harbour in these early years.
Throughout the history of Newfoundland the ardent loyalty of Newfoundlanders to the King/Queen and Country remains a proud facet to their character. The evolution of the Regatta also shares very strong links to the major events which surround the Monarchy. The races of 1818 were held on September 22 in order to coincide with the 47th anniversary of King George III’s official coronation on September 22,1761. It is from this date that the Regatta Committee takes its anniversary.
|Female Amateur||4:56.10||2018||M5 Group|
|Female Mercantile||5:15.82||1997||North Atlantic Petroleum|
|Female Juvenile||5:25.66||2002||Noble Drilling|
|Female Midget||5:48.39||2001||Noble Drilling|
|Female Commercial||5:33.19||2001||Thrifty Car Rental|
|Female District||5:29.86||2001||CFS St. John’s-Sports Shop|
|Female General Workers||5:30.56||2004||RJG Construction|
|Female All Comers||5:45.91||2001||Appleton Rum|
|Female Masters||5:12.53||2012||OZ FM|
|Female Memorial||5:31.49||2016||Port Authority|
|Female Club||5:44.23||2005||Bella Vista|
|Female Service||5:55.68||2011||Labrador Motors|
|Female Squirt||2:37.60||2016||FW Connolly|
|Male Amateur||8:54.06||2007||Crosbie Industrial Services|
|Male Labour||9:22.99||1987||H.M. Penitentiary|
|Male Intermediate||9:23.27||2001||Academy Canada|
|Male Masters||9:40.11||2012||3M Masters|
|Male Midget||5:00.79||1995||East Coast Marine|
|Male Juvenile||9:43.07||1989||Outer Cove-East Coast Marine|
|Male All Comers||9:24.80||1995||Concrete Products|
|Male Service||9:03.64||1991||Smith Stockley-Outer Cove|
|Male Squirt||2:26.90||2016||GreenSleeves/Men’s Den|
|Male Commercial||9:17.79||1991||RNC Sportscraft|
|Male General Workers||9:15.72||1981||Smith Stockley|
|Female||4:57.78||2005||Compusult A/Canada Games|
|Male||8:51.32||2007||Crosbie Industrial Services|
|Full Course (2.450 km.)||8:51.32||2007||Crosbie Industrial Services|
|Half Course (1.225 km.)||4:56.10||2018||M5 Group|
|1874||CANCELLED DUE TO RAIN|
|1892||CANCELLED DUE TO FIRE|
|1915||CANCELLED DUE TO WAR|
|1916||CANCELLED DUE TO WAR|
|1917||CANCELLED DUE TO WAR|
|1918||CANCELLED DUE TO WAR|
|1940||CANCELLED DUE TO WAR|
|1947||U.S. Army Docks||09:59.4|
|1949||Higher Levels (Intermediate)||10:45.0|
|1954||U.S. Air Police||09:56.0|
|1955||U.S. Air Police||10:06.0|
|1959||William Summers Jr.||09:49.2|
|1960||William Summers Jr.||09:51.0|
|1961||William Summers Jr.||10:10.0|
|1962||William Summers Jr.||10:01.4|
|1963||William Summers Jr.||10:08.0|
|1964||William Summers Jr.||10:07.8|
|1966||Newfoundland Light & Power||10:03.0|
|1968||William Summers Jr.||10:27.0|
|1969||Newfoundland Light & Power||10:03.0|
|1971||Newfoundland Light & Power||10:02.0|
|1974||NF Light & Power and Hickman’s (Dead Heat)||10:10.0|
|1981||Boys and Girls Club||09:23.2|
|1987||Smith Stockley||09:55.1||The Native|
|1988||RNC-Lakeshore Homes||09:29.3||The Viking|
|1989||RNC-Lakeshore Homes||09:01.2||The Blue Peter|
|1990||RNC-Lakeshore Homes||09:10.0||The Viking|
|1991||Smith Stockley-Outer Cove||08:59.4||Good Luck|
|1992||Smith Stockley-Outer Cove||09:04.5||Good Luck|
|1993||Outer Cove-Coldwell Banker||09:20.2||Dictator|
|1994||Smith Stockley-Outer Cove||09:08.3||Good Luck|
|1995||Butternut Bread||09:01.1||Good Luck|
|1996||RNC-Grand Banks Alliance||09:22.6||Miss Molson|
|1998||RNC-Discovery Springs||09:16.3||Captain Morgan|
|2003||NF Power||09:05.6||Miss Molson|
|2005||The Independent||09:04.0||Miss Tubular|
|2006||Crosbie Industrial||09:24.5||Miss Tubular|
|2007||Crosbie Industrial||08:51.3||Miss Tubular|
|2008||O’Dea Earle||09:22.2||Miss Molson|
|2009||East Coast Maintenance Services||09:09.7||Miss Tubular|
|2010||Rogers Bussey Lawyers||09:32.8||Miss Tubular|
|2011||Rogers Bussey Lawyers||09:10.8||Miss Tubular|
|2012||Rogers Bussey Lawyers||09:16.6||Miss Tubular|
|2014||Bussey Howrood Lawyers||09:14.5||Iceberg Gold|
|2015||Max Arts. Athletics Wellness||9:26.32|
2017 Outer Cove 8:59.70 Iceberg Gold
2018 Outer Cove 9:06.34 Cougar
2019 Fine Strokes Painting and Plaster Ltd. 9:04.71 Miss Tubular
2020 CANCELLED DUE TO PANDEMIC
|1987||Ryan’s Construction||05:53.0||The Blue Peter|
|1988||OZ FM||05:20.3||The Native|
|1989||OZ FM||05:22.1||The Native|
|1990||OZ FM||05:08.3||Blue Peter VI|
|1991||Trinity Bay Offshore||05:11.0||Dictator|
|1993||OZ FM-Mark’s Work Warehouse||05:11.7||Dictator|
|1994||OZ FM||04:59.5||Good Luck|
|1995||Keyin Tech||05:02.0||Good Luck|
|1996||Keyin Tech||05:18.6||Miss Molson|
|1997||Keyin Tech||05:10.3||Captain Morgan|
|1998||OZ FM||05:04.5||Good Luck|
|1999||Keyin College||05:03.6||Good Luck|
|2000||OZ FM||05:07.8||Good Luck|
|2001||Keyin College||05:11.4||Good Luck|
|2002||OZ FM||05:08.3||Miss Tubular|
|2003||OZ FM||04:58.7||Miss Tubular|
|2004||Jungle Jim’s||05:06.5||Miss Tubular|
|2005||Compusult A/Canada Games||04:57.8||Miss Molson|
|2006||OZ FM||05:16.2||Miss Tubular|
|2007||O’Dea Earle||05:06.2||Miss Tubular|
|2008||H.J. O’Connell Construction||05:03.5||Miss Tubular|
|2009||JAC Marketing & Advertising / Canada Games||05:08.3||Good Luck|
|2012||Roebothan McKay Marshall||05:04.2||Miss Tubular|
|2013||Max Girls 1||05:12.4||Miss Tubular|
|2014||Max Athletics Women||05:11.8||Pomerleau|
|2015||Roebothan McKay Marshall||05:18.44|
2017 M5 05:00.71 Cougar
2018 M5 05:03.58 Pomerleau
2019 Hyflodraulic Limited 05:02.23 Miss Tubular
2020 CANCELLED DUE TO PANDEMIC
From champions of the past to our latest record breakers, you’ll find them below. Each name is a testament to the spirit of sportsmanship that embodies the Royal St. John’s Regatta.
This year marks the 114th anniversary of the CLB Regimental Band. In the beginning, it was just a small fife and drum band, but it eventually evolved into the full military band which we all enjoy today.
Over the years, the band has performed on many special occasions including the visits of various members of the Royal Family, the visit of Pope John Paul II, for the veterans of both World Wars, when the band lead them at their departure and upon their return home. In fact, the CLB Band still provides music at parades for the various branches of the armed forces in the St. John’s area.
Since 1964, the CLB Regimental Band has been a well known and important feature at the annual Royal St. John’s Regatta. The Band’s rendition of “The Banks of Newfoundland”, what has become known throughout this province as “Up the Pond”, is as much a part of Regatta tradition as each race at which it is played.
The Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee thanks the the CLB Band for providing the music during Regatta Day. We salute all members of the Band and thank them for the past 46 years of continuous service at the Walter F. Learning Bandstand.
The Bandstand at Quidi Vidi Lake represents a long-standing icon of the Royal St. John’s Regatta, providing a “home” to the Church Lads Brigade (“CLB”)’s Regimental Band on the day of the Royal St. John’s Regatta as the band entertained spectators and rowers alike.
Major Walter Francis Learning accepted the position of Bandmaster of the Regimental Band in 1964 and provided guidance and leadership to the band for 36 years, until his retirement as Bandmaster following the conclusion of the 2010 Royal St. John’s Regatta.
Major Learning was a long time member of the Church Lads Brigade, having joined the CLB in 1939 under the regimental number 5293. Throughout his 73 year involvement, he progressed through the ranks of the CLB and took a fond interest in music and joined the CLB’s Regimental Band. Major Learning was a member with the Band for 68 years and played a leading role in recruitment classes, wherein he, and others, taught new recruits how to play, eventually taking on the position of Assistant Bandmaster for several years.
Through his involvement with the CLB Band, Major Learning participated in or lead the Band in the Royal St. John’s Regatta for 47 years, performing numerous songs from the Bandstand at Quidi Vidi Lake, at the start and finish of each race, and at various times throughout the day. Rain or shine, cold or heat the Band under Major Learning’s guidance, performed admirably.
Major Walter F. Learning was awarded the highest award of the CLB, the Medal of Merit in 1992. He was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 1995. In 1996 he was named the Knights of Columbus Citizen of the Year and in 2000, was presented with the Freedom of the City, by the City of St. John’s. With the unfailing support that wife, Marjorie, provided for Walter throughout his career with the CLB band and the Regatta over those many years, these achievements could not have happened.
The Learning family has had a long involvement with the CLB and The Royal St. John’s Regatta. Walter followed in his father’s footsteps as he too played at the regatta, and his son Donald and son-in-law Gunnar were also members of the band. Mrs. Learning worked at the CLB concession and daughter Sheri sang the opening to the Regatta, the Ode of Newfoundland for many years. In fact with that involvement, encouraged by Walter, they didn’t take their family vacation until after the first week in August!
With this background, passion for the Regatta and the CLB Regimental Band, it seemed only fitting, and truly deserved, for the Bandstand to be named the Walter F. Learning Bandstand in recognition of Major Learning’s almost 50 years of contributions to the CLB Regimental Band and the Royal St. John’s Regatta!