Ladies Don’t Run

This blog tracks the origin & evolution of Jo Napier’s 2011 art exhibit/portrait series honoring “The Nova Scotia Nine- Great Women of N.S.

How could you not fall in love with Aileen Meagher?

Back in the day when ‘a lady did not run’, she cut off her brother’s trousers, fashioned a pair of running shorts and tried out for the Dalhousie track team in 1928. The track coach mentioned the Olympics. Aileen had never heard of the Olympics. Soon, all that would change.

She quickly beame Canada’s record holder for the 100- and 220-yard events and, by 1932, was part of our nation’s Olympic contingent. (A charley horse kept  her out of competition.) By 1935 she was named both Most Outstanding Canadian Athlete and Most Outstanding Female Athlete.

She took home gold and silver medals at the 1934 and 1938 Empire Games and – the year Hitler hosted the 1936 Olympics in Berlin– Aileen arrived at the Halifaxairport with an Olympic Bronze Medal for the 400 relay.  

Meagher at 1936 Olympics, Photo Credit: NS Archives and Record Management

That’s her, at the front of the group, with her Canadian team, the U.S.team, and British team prior to presentation with medals in Berlin.

She went on to become a talented artist who traveled the world – filling notebooks with watercolor sketches and captivating snippets.

Hugh Townsend interviewed Aileen for The Chronicle-Herald back in June 1976. In the interview, she recalled how she became a world-class athlete:

 “. . . I didn’t have a diet, no special conditioning, I didn’t know much about training. I just prepared myself to run as fast as I could.”

Later, as a teacher, she used her running medals as a paperweights on her school desk. When her Olympic medal went missing, she was unperturbed. “I know I did it – so, why worry?

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