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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
Alex Decoteau was encouraged to become an athlete when
he was young
- 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.
- 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
- 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,
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
won second place against policeman Dan Fraser
- 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 his second competitive race
- May 24th, 1909: Decoteau competes in a one-mile race at Fort Saskatchewan,
Alberta and places second to policeman Dan Fraser.
- 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
Alex Decoteau won four races in one day
Alex Decoteau became Canada’s first Aboriginal police officer
- 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 won the Cross Cup race for the fifth
- 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
- 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
In 1912 Alex Decoteau competed at the Olympic games in Stockholm,
- 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
- 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
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
World War I begins in Europe
Alex Decoteau was
promoted to the rank of Sergeant in the Edmonton Police Department
- 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
- 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.