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Timeline
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Alex Decoteau set a new Alberta record for the 2-mile run in Edmonton

  • 1914: Alex Decoteau sets a new Alberta record for the 2-mile run at the city’s Amalgamation Day sports event, which celebrated the uniting of Edmonton with Strathcona in 1912.

Alex Decoteau won the Calgary Herald Road Race again

  • 1914: Decoteau is again the winner of the Calgary Herald Christmas Road Race.

Alex Decoteau won the Calgary Herald Road Race trophy permanently

  • 1915: Alex Decoteau won the Calgary Herald Christmas Road Race for a third time and was awarded the trophy permanently. He protected himself against the cold wind, with a toque pulled down over his face. He also protected his legs with stockings and his hands with gloves.

Alex Decoteau joined the Canadian Army

  • April 24th, 1916: Alex Decoteau resigns from the Edmonton Police Department. He joins the Canadian Army as a private in the 202nd Battalion also nicknamed “ Edmonton Sportsmen’s Battalion.” He was later transferred to the 49th Edmonton Regiment.

King George V gave Alex Decoteau his gold pocket watch

  • During the time Decoteau was stationed in Europe, he participated in two memorable races in England. He entered a five-mile race in a military sports day in England and won. King George V, who attended the event, awarded Decoteau his own gold pocket watch because the trophy was late arriving. Decoteau treasured this watch as one of his finest awards and carried it with him throughout his stay in Europe. The next day, thinking that the race he entered in was a foot race, he ran to the location of the event. Upon arrival, he discovered it was a bicycle race. He borrowed a bike and won the race.

Alex Decoteau wrote a war letter to his sister from Belgium

  • Sept 10, 1917: Now stationed in Belgium, Decoteau wrote a letter to his sister about the many acquaintances from home he had met, including the Aboriginal runner Tom Longboat. He also related his experience with trench fever, wartime conditions, missing his country and the soldiers’ attitudes.
     
  • October 30th, 1917: Alex Decoteau was killed in battle at Passchendaele by a sniper’s bullet. There is a folklore legend about how a German sniper who shot Alex managed to take the pocket watch that Alex received from King George V and that the watch was later recovered when Decoteau's comrades killed the enemy sniper. The watch was sent home to his mother as a memento. Decoteau was buried in Flanders Field at Ypres, Belgium. He was only 29 when he died, when he was still considered Canada’s greatest marathon runner.

  • November 1917: An article in the Edmonton Bulletin read “Decoteau’s Name in the List.” Decoteau’s name was included under the heading “Killed in Action” in the weekly casualty list. “In all probability this is none other than Alec Decoteau, Edmonton’s premier middle and long distance runner, whose next of kin reside at Battleford, Saskatchewan.”

  • 1966: Edmonton police officer Sam Donaghey helps revive the story of Alex Decoteau. While helping to move files, Donaghey discovers a news clipping about Decoteau in the bottom of a file drawer. He begins to research and write about the story of Alex Decoteau.

  • 1967: Decoteau was inducted into the Edmonton Sports Hall of Fame for his accomplishments in Track and Field events.

  • 1977: Sam Donaghey was inducted into the City of Edmonton Historical Hall of Fame for his research on the history of the police service in Edmonton and on Alex Decoteau.

  • 1983: The Alex Decoteau Run was organized by the Alberta Native Education Foundation. It was established to raise funds for Alberta Aboriginal students and to commemorate Decoteau’s athletic legacy.

  • 1985: A special ceremony was held by the Red Pheasant First Nation on the Red Pheasant Reserve in Saskatchewan to bring Alex Decoteau’s spirit home from Belgium for a proper Aboriginal burial. It was believed that without an Aboriginal burial, his spirit would be left to wander the earth.

  • 2000: Decoteau was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, honoured for his play with the Provincial soccer champions in 1903.

  • 2001: The theatrical play “Running – The Alex Decoteau Story” written by playwright and teacher Charlotte Cameron, premiered at the Edmonton Fringe Festival and received great acclaim. The play chronicled the life of Alex Decoteau.

  • 2001: Decoteau was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum by the efforts of retired police officer Sam Donaghey. Decoteau was awarded the Pioneer Award posthumously.

  • May 4th, 2001: The Alex Decoteau Run at Rundle Park was organized as a way of celebrating his life and legacy for all students.

  • May 3rd, 2002: The 2nd Annual Alex Decoteau Run at Rundle Park was attended by the Edmonton Police Chief and children from eight schools including a school from Saddle lake. More than 1,000 kindergarten to Grade 9 school children participated in the event, running distances from 400 to 5,000 meters.
Alex Decoteau was a great Canadian athlete
  • Alex Decoteau was an outstanding athlete and served his community as a police officer, family member, friend and soldier. He overcame many challenges and made important contributions to his city, province and country.

This timeline was developed by the Heritage Community Foundation with generous help from Izola Mottershead.


 

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