Sunday, February 12, 2012

New Stratford road to honour runner, respected citizen

New Stratford road to honour runner, respected citizen

Published on January 28, 2012
Nigel Armstrong

STRATFORD - A new waterfront road will bear the name Michael Thomas Way in honour of the famous Stratford resident.

The new road has been constructed as part of the waterfront development now underway just south of the Hillsborough bridge approaches.

The Great Michael Thomas, as some Halifax newspapers at the turn of the last century called him, had an international reputation for long distance running. He was born on Lennox Island in 1885 but set up a fishing business in what was then called Southport.

Thomas first came to prominence when he won the Charlottetown Patriot newspaper's 10mile race in 1909. Thomas would go on to win the same race three years in a row plus other races in the Maritimes.

He became known as the Island Longboat, a name derived from a world- famous long distance runner at the time, Tom Longboat.

Thomas was the first Islander to run in the Boston Marathon, placing 26. He was inducted posthumously into the PEI Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.

In the late 1920s Thomas moved his family to Southport to give them better opportunities.

"His family home was situated near the water at the approach to the Hillsborough Bridge," said Stratford councillor Diane Griffin as she recently presented the street naming resolution to town council.

"He lived in what was then Southport and remained a champion of aboriginal rights," said Griffin. "He retained the respect of the community for his accomplishment and convictions."

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