Well, the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics are now officially at hand, and in the spirit of such, I thought I’d take the opportunity to sync today’s post and have a look at not only the Island’s first Olympic medallist, but also its first Olympian (yes, there have been more than one in both of those categories). To do so, we need to wind back the clock to a different era, an era long before Summerside’s Heather Moyse pulled off gold medals in 2010 and 2014 (bobsleigh), beyond Charlottetown’s Dave “Eli” MacEachern’s golden win in Nagano in 1998 (also bobsleigh) – heck, even further back than Bill MacMillan’s bronze with the Canadian National hockey team in 1968 in Grenoble. No, we must go all the way back to the 1912 Stockholm Games and the Island’s greatest track and field athlete, whose pole-vaulting prowess took him to new heights (literally) and earned him wide acclaim: William “Bill” Halpenny (‘Hay-penny’, not ‘Hall-penny’ or ‘Ha-penny’ – I know, it’s weird).
Having said all that, it is here that we actually part ways. But there’s no need to panic, because I’m leaving you in the hands of two very informative articles. The first is Charles Ballem’s excellent “Bill Halpenny, First Island Olympian” (The Island Magazine 15, Spring/Summer 1984); the second is Halpenny’s entry on the PEI Sports Hall of Fame, into which he was inducted in July 1970. So have a go at those bits, and we’ll meet up again on Friday!
PEI History Guy
P.S. – The above image is a postcard from the Stockholm Games, specifically, the Stockholms Olympiastadion (if you need a translation, that would be Stockholm Olympic Stadium).