Man running in a road race with a car alongside him.

A new donation all the way from New Mexico has given some additional context to this photograph of a road race between Trenton and Belleville.

A young man in athletic clothing with a trophy.In a family album of otherwise unidentified people, was one photograph of Harry Palmer, taken by Clarence Herington of Trenton. In the picture, a young man poses in athletic clothing, a number on his chest. On the table beside him is the trophy he won by running from Trenton to Belleville in one hour and sixteen minutes.

A few minutes of searching the online copies of the Belleville newspapers delivered a date for the race: it took place on Labour Day, September 7th, in 1908 and there were 15 contestants, nine of whom finished the race. The Daily Intelligencer described the plans for the race in its September 4th edition:


Report on planned Labour Day race

Daily Intelligencer report, September 4th, 1908

Things Look Well For Labor Day Race

There Will be at Least Sixteen Entries - A Purely Amateur Affair - Contestants and Officials

The Deacon Road Race, on Labor day, is going to be a red-hot sporting event, and at least 16 husky young men, equally divided in number between Trenton and this city, will gallop over the course. Following are some particulars which may be of interest:

The race is under C.A.A.U. [Canadian Amateur Athletic Union] sanction, which means that all competitors must take the amateur declaration.

It will be known as the Deacon Shirt Co.'s Road Race.

The runners will start from in front of the Post office at Trenton and finish in front of the Post office in this city.

Trenton runners will be distinguished by having a cipher in front of the numbers to be worn on their breasts, thus: 01, 02, etc.

Belleville's men will have the plain numbers, thus: 1, 2, etc.

The winner will capture the silver cup, which will become the absolute property of anyone winning it three times. There will also be prizes in kind for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th men.

The day after the race, The Daily Intelligencer reported on the chaotic closing stages:

The only regrettable circumstance in connection with the race is the fact that hundreds of people, who were old enough to know better, persisted in obstructing the runners. People on foot were bad enough, but to have drivers of all sorts of rigs, from automobiles to democrats dating back to the days of Noah, pocketing the plucky runners and forcing them off the road was surely the limit. There is, however, no doubt at all that the obstruction had nothing to do with the result in the case of young Palmer, the Trenton lad who won...

The photograph of the race at the top of this post was taken by Clarence Herington. Harry Palmer can be seen running along Bridge Street West (approximately where the Belleville Courthouse is today) approaching the Lower Bridge and the Belleville Post Office, the finishing point of the race. Thanks to the Dehlinger family for returning this photograph album to Hastings County, 113 years after Harry won his race.

Postcard of the former Post Office on Bridge Street in Belleville