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Alex Decoteau was Canada’s best long-distance runner

  • Alex Decoteau was a long-distance runner, Canada’s first Aboriginal police officer and a local hero.

Alex Decoteau was born in Saskatchewan on the Red Pheasant Reserve

  • November 19th, 1887: Alexander Decoteau (pronounced Alec Dakota) was a Cree Aboriginal, born on the Red Pheasant Reserve near North Battleford, Saskatchewan. His family name was most likely “Dakota” originally. His father (Peter Decoteau) was one of Poundmaker’s warriors at the battle of Cut Knife Hill on May 2, 1885. His mother was from the Wuttunee family, whose descendents included lawyers and university professors.

  • Feb 3, 1891: The death of Decoteau’s father resulted in his attendance at the Battleford Industrial School in Saskatchewan. He participated in and excelled at boxing, cricket soccer and running.
Alex Decoteau was encouraged to become an athlete when he was young
  • 1903:  Decoteau was encouraged to become an athlete by a group of visiting Irish police. They taught the mission school children to play soccer. Decoteau and his brother Peter become members of the Battleford Industrial High School soccer team. The team became Provincial soccer champions of Saskatchewan.

Alex Decoteau won a violin in one of his races in Saskatchewan

  • While in Battleford, Saskatchewan, Decoteau purposely placed second because the second place prize was a violin. Alex knew his mother loved music and particularly the violin, so he asked his cousin Peter to win the race. The violin is stamped inside “Made in Cremona, Italy, 1645.”

Alex Decoteau lived with his sister Emily and her husband David Latta who was a blacksmith

  • 1909: Alex Decoteau had two brothers and one sister. He left Battleford to live with his sister Emily in Edmonton. Emily was married to David Latta, an Irish born former member of the North West Mounted Police. David had retired from the police department and opened a blacksmith shop. Decoteau was later hired by the City of Edmonton Police Department in 1911.

Alex Decoteau lived in Edmonton

  • 1909: Alex Decoteau lived with his sister Emily and David Latta during the time he was a police officer with the Edmonton Police Department. They lived in a home at 91st Street and Jasper Avenue. The house no longer remains, but the historic Latta Bridge marks the site.
Alex Decoteau won second place against policeman Dan Fraser
  • May 24th, 1909: Decoteau competes in a one-mile race at Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta and places second to policeman Dan Fraser.
Alex Decoteau won his second competitive race
  • June 29th, 1909: Decoteau won his second competitive race in 28 min 41 sec, which was the five mile race that marked the opening of the Edmonton Exhibition. He broke the previous record, which had been set by an Olympic athlete.

  • August 5th, 1909: At the Caledonian Sports Event in Edmonton, Decoteau won the five mile race in 27m31s and the one mile race in 4m 49s. One month later at the Provincial games in Calgary he won both the five and one mile races again.

  • 1909: C.W. Cross, Alberta’s first Attorney-General, established the Cross Cup race to be run four times a year, along the same course. The course consisted of running to the Y.M.C.A. building, going north on First Street, for two and a half miles and returning back. Alex easily won the five-mile race, which had a field of seven competitors and managed to set a new record of 26m 34s.

  • May 24th, 1910: Decoteau won the ten-mile and the one-mile races at the Fort Saskatchewan meet. He was also the first winner of the Edmonton Journal’s Special Prize in the event for winning both races on the same day.

Alex Decoteau won four races in one day

  • July 1st, 1910: Decoteau entered the Provincial championships in Lethbridge. In the course of one day, he won the four events he entered – the half-mile, the one-mile, the two-mile and the five-mile. Two days later in Lloydminister, he set a new Western Canadian record for the same event covering five miles in 27m 45s, winning the Mayberry Cup.

  • 1910 Decoteau entered the Calgary Herald Christmas Road Race for the first time. The race was held on December 25th of each year. It was the biggest sporting event of the year. The trophy was highly coveted by all distance runners. He ran a magnificent race and won by setting a new record that was never broken in the history of the race.
Alex Decoteau became Canada’s first Aboriginal police officer
  • 1911: Decoteau became the first Aboriginal police officer in Canada when he went to work for the Edmonton Police Force. For the month of January, he worked for the last half of the month and was paid $33.55 for his police work.
Alex Decoteau won the Cross Cup race for the fifth time
  • 1911: The Cross Cup was permanently awarded to Decoteau after he won the race for the fifth time in six years

Annie Jackson was Canada’s first female police officer

  • 1912: Annie Jackson becomes Canada’s first female police officer, joining the Edmonton Police Force. Annie’s hiring was considered so remarkable that she was mentioned in newspapers as far away as Toronto and London, England. She resigned from the police force in 1918.

  • May 24th, 1912: At the Olympic trials in Fort Saskatchewan, Decoteau won the ten mile race in 59 minutes one full minute under the Olympic qualifying time.
In 1912 Alex Decoteau competed at the Olympic games in Stockholm, Sweden
  • 1912: The police force granted Decoteau leave to compete in the 5000 metre race at the Olympic games in Stockholm, Sweden. He was the only Albertan on the Canadian team. In the final, Decoteau was in third place during the first part of the race but he developed leg cramps and had to withdraw. He was back at his job the day after his return from Stockholm.

Alex Decoteau was one of the first motorcycle policemen in Canada

  • 1913: Decoteau was part of the police escort for the party of dignitaries that opened the High Level Bridge. He was later assigned to lock the bridge each night, riding a motorcycle to carry out his duty. He was one of the first motorcycle policemen in the city and in Canada.

  • July 1, 1913: Decoteau won the one-mile race at the Alberta Championship meet.

World War I begins in Europe

  • 1914: World War I begins in Europe. A folklore legend exists about Decoteau being enthusiastic about the war effort and wanting to enlist with the Canadian Army. At that time, the services of Aboriginals were absolutely voluntary.
Alex Decoteau was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in the Edmonton Police Department
  • 1914: Decoteau was the first Aboriginal Canadian to be promoted to the rank of Sergeant in any municipal police force. He was put in charge of the No. 4 Station at 121 Street and 102 Avenue.
 

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