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Gertrude Phinney

Phinney a Decorated Track Star

Born in 1910, Gertrude Phinney was in some ways a women ahead of her time. She was a superb athlete, competing in basketball and tennis in both high school and university and was the outstanding woman track athlete in the Maritime provinces during the late 1920s.

As a student at Wolfville High School, Phinney played on the basketball team and represented Wolfville in tennis meets. After several years at Dalhousie University in Halifax, she entered Acadia University’s Home Economics program. Once at Acadia, she was a member of the championship women’s basketball team, she was captain in her fourth year. She played varsity tennis, was campus champion in women’s singles and was a member of the Tumbler’s Club. She not only received her athletic “A,” she received distinction in basketball.

It is in track and field, however, that Phinney attracted most notice. In an era where many “experts” felt women should not exert themselves or compete in track and field, she was unable to participate in track at Acadia University; there was no women’s team. Instead, she competed for the Halifax-Dartmouth Athletic Club and soon became the talk of the track circuit. In a June 1927 meet, in the presence of over 1500 people, “Miss Gertrude Phinney...won five championships, including all the sprints and hurdles and the running broad jump, second in the standing broad jump, and lowered four Maritime records. Her work seemed tireless, as in the sprints and hurdles she competed in no less than 14 heats besides participating in three jumps.”

At the Maritime championships in 1928, she won the 60 yard hurdles, the 60, 100, and 220 yard dashes and the javelin, and was part of the winning 4 by 100 relay; she was also second in discus. In July 1929, at the Canadian women’s track and field championships in Montreal, Phinney “forced Myrtle Cook to a record in 60 yards.” Of the 17 points scored by her club, Phinney scored 11. In September that year, she equalled the world record time for the 60 yard dash. After graduation with a BSc in 1932, she taught Home Economics in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia, married and raised a family.

(Acadian Recorder, 23 June 1927; 3 July 1929; 4 September 1929)

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