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Memorable Manitobans: Cyril Hillyard Coaffee (1897-1945)

Runner.

Born in England in 1897, son of Frank Skerman Coaffee (c1871-1945) and Harriott Ettie Coaffee (c1872-1968), he came to Winnipeg with his family in 1905. He first came to prominence as an athlete in 1920, when he won the 100-yard-dash trials for the Canadian Olympic team but was initially left off the team for financial reasons. Winnipeggers raised the funds to send him to Antwerp. In 1922 he tied the world record in the 100-yard dash at 9.6 seconds. He was Canada’s team captain at the 1924 Olympics, and he travelled internationally as a runner in the latter 1920s. Coaffee had an unusual running style caused by partial paralysis of his left arm, which gave him an extreme forward lean. During the Second World War, he served in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps from 1939 to 1943. He died at his parents’ Winnipeg home, 178 Good Street, on 2 July 1945 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery. He was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame (1982). He is listed on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.

Sources:

“Cyril Coaffee, former spring champion, dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 3 July 1945, page 9.

Obituary [Frank Skerman Coaffee], Winnipeg Tribune, 1 August 1945, page 14.

Obituary [Harriott Coaffee], Winnipeg Free Press, 6 February 1968, page 21.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 24 February 2018

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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