Joseph Wright (rower)

(Redirected from Joseph Wright (Toronto))

Joseph Walter Harris Wright (14 January 1864 – 18 October 1950) was a famed Canadian rower, municipal politician, and all-round athlete who had success in a variety of sports in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.[1]

Joseph Wright
Personal information
Full nameJoseph Walter Harris Wright
Born14 January 1864
Villanova, Canada West
Died18 October 1950 (aged 86)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Height6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Weight195 lb (88 kg)
RelativesJoseph Wright Jr. (son), George F. Wright. (son)
ClubArgonaut Rowing Club, Toronto
Medal record

As rowing competitor and coach Wright had more than a 130 titles to his credit in numerous rowing classes, including taking the U.S. National Fours and Pairs titles in 1895. He competed in the 1904 Summer Olympics and was a member of the Canadian boat which won the silver medal in the men's eight. He retired from competition at 42 years of age in 1906 after winning two heats of the Grand Challenge Cup in the men's eight at the Henley Royal Regatta - just missing winning the event in the final. He then devoted his time to coaching at the Argonaut Rowing Club. He coached the legendary crews of Geoffrey Barron Taylor helping them win the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta five times in 1907.[2] He also coached stroke Taylor's Argonaut eights crews, representing Canada, at the 1908 Summer Olympics winning the bronze medal, and again at the 1912 Summer Olympics.

Off the water Wright was an accomplished athlete in track and field, sprint, and billiards. He claimed amateur titles in both wrestling and boxing and set throw records in shot put and hammer throw. He also served as coach-captain of the Toronto Argonauts rugby-football team, an adjunct of the rowing club, in the 1890s.

Hired in 1916 to coach at the University of Pennsylvania, Wright, who had seen the popularity of lightweight rowing grow after its introduction to the Canadian Henley in 1906, advocated for its adoption at US colleges. The first intercollegiate lightweight contest, set between Penn and Yale for May 12, 1917, was cancelled by the onset of WWI. Following the end of the war, on May 31, 1919, the first event on the program of the American Rowing Association, a "Special Eight-Oared Shells (150 Lb. Crews)" featuring Navy and Penn, marked the beginning of intercollegiate lightweight rowing in the US. Wright resigned his position in 1925 over a dispute regarding the boating of his varsity eight. Since 1938, the trophy awarded to the winner of the intercollegiate lightweight varsity eight race, initially sponsored by the American Rowing Association, and then by the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges, has been the Joseph Wright Trophy.

He was elected to Toronto City Council in 1928, and served three terms before being defeated in the 1931 election.

His eldest son George F. Wright, won a bronze medal at the 1908 Summer Olympics and his younger son Joseph Wright Jr. won a silver medal in the double sculls competition at the 1928 Summer Olympics.


  1. ^ "Joseph Wright". Olympedia. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  2. ^ Jason. (1911). Historical sketch of the Argonaut Rowing Club, 1872 to 1911. [publisher not identified]. p. 33. OCLC 1007739679.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)

External linksEdit