This Week in History: 1922: The Sun denounces the menace of horse racing

Horse racing has been around Vancouver since the pioneer days.

On Oct. 29, 1888, a race between steeds like Coquitlam Jim, Slow Dick and Bryan O’Lynn attracted so many local politicians that a city council meeting was cancelled for lack of a quorum.

In 1889 and 1890, the masses thronged the sidewalks along Howe Street to watch Dominion Day horse races downtown. Racing fans and owners then began to agitate for a civic racecourse, and on Sept. 15, 1892, one opened at Hastings Park.

It’s still in operation 127 years later.

But horse racing’s popularity also brought controversy, because people gambled on the outcomes.

By Jan. 15, 1922, the moralists at The Vancouver Sun had had enough. In a front-page editorial, the paper attacked the “Menace of Horse-Racing.”

“Those knights of the itching palm who have specialized in horse-racing as the method whereby the fool and his money can be most easily parted, are preparing for their seasonal invasion of Vancouver this coming summer, with intent to gather up another million dollars or more of easy money,” said the unsigned missive.

“Sport and recreation are just as necessary to a well-rounded life as food and fresh air, but sport commercialized loses the up-building effect, and sport tied up to a gambling orgy becomes a corroding vice striking infection into the vitals of the community.

“Open racetracks bring to the city a horde of unmoral men and immoral women — intent on getting money without work — and not caring to what extent they contaminate the crowds who are attracted to the races.”

Vancouver Sun editorial on the Menace of Horse Racing, Jan. 15, 1922.

The following day, The Sun received support from the Rev. J.S. Henderson, who gave an address on “Does Gambling Pay?” at the Colonial Theatre.

“(Horse racing) is spoiling our legitimate sport,” he said. “Horses were made to …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

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