George Orton

First Canadian to win Olympic gold

Born: 10 January 1873 in Strathroy, Ontario
Died: 26 June 1958

On July 15, 1900, George Orton became the first Canadian to win an Olympic gold medal. Competing at the Paris games, he finished first in the 2500-metre steeplechase with a time of 7:34.4. On the same day, he won the bronze medal in the 400-metre hurdles in 58.5 seconds. However, Orton was not competing for Canada; he was competing for the Americans, as part of the University of Pennsylvania team.

The Strathroy, Ontario native did his undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto and his graduate studies at Penn. Before he was invited to compete at the Olympics, Orton was one of the top runners in North America. By 1900, he had 121 wins, 27 second place finishes, and 20 third place finishes. He was the University of Toronto champion in the mile and half-mile for 1891 and 1892, as well as the quarter-mile champion in 1892.

After the Olympics, the King of Belgium gave Orton an award for "skill and sportsmanship" and he was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1977.

See also:

Etienne Desmarteau

More information on:

1900 Olympics in Paris, France

Sources include:

Kearney, Mark, and Randy Ray. The Great Canadian Trivia Book. Toronto: Hounslow Press, 1996.


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Added 14 April 2002.