CANADIAN HACKNEY SOCIETY
HACKNEY HALL OF FAME
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Thomas Crow and James Murray
The Toronto firm of Crow and Murray, was considered to be the city's most recognized dealer in high class show horses from the late 1890s until 1925. The clientele that James Murray and Thomas Crow served were the leading exhibitors in Canada as well as in the U.S.
They exhibited their horses at the leading shows, as far as Kansas City, Atlanta, and memorable trips to Olympia in London, England in 1909 and 1910. They would travel with as many as 20 horses to show in the many harness and saddle classes offered. Jim Murray was outstanding rider of a jumper and a joyful, popular character in the show ring. Tommy Crow was very quiet and business like. On their showing excursion, they would find new horses that would suit their clients and sell to other exhibitors. They usually had a small army of grooms and trainers, many gaining valuable experience working with show horses and would move on to other stables, often returning to their previous employer for horses for their owners. Tommy also operated the T.A. Crow Carriage Works, specialized in carriages for the show ring.
They did not specialize in any one type of horse, they brought in many Hackney and Standardbred horses from the U.S, imported horses from England, and had contacts throughout the countryside scouting for thoroughbreds and crossbreds that would be suitable for all weights of hunters and jumpers. Often a horse bought for one purpose might be retrained for another use, such was the case with Confidence. Confidence was a half Hackney that was bought out in the country and was mated with a like looking horse of type for a private carriage pair in Toronto. In pair harness, he often liked to canter and shortly after was returned to Crow and Murray for another horse. Jim Murray decided to try him under saddle, and to put him over a few jumps. Showing great promise, he was sold in 1909 to Captain Evans of Montreal, who competed at Olympia and won the high jumping class, clearing 7 feet. Winning many classes, Confidence was sold in 1910 to Sir Clifford Sifton of Toronto, where he set a record of 8 feet, 1/2 inch that stood for 11 years. Jack Hambleton, one of many who started their careers at Crow and Murray became the rider and stable manager for the Sifton Stable.
In 1915, Jim Murray was driving a horse on Avenue Road in Toronto when a running horse drawing a delivery wagon collided with Jim and he was thrown from his rig. His injuries were substantial and he died a short time after. Tommy Crow continued to buy and sell under the Crow and Murray name, and continued to send out a good number of show horses to the leading shows. After 1925, he closed down the sales stable in downtown Toronto, moving to facilities in Scarborough, where he stood Hackney, thoroughbred and standardbred stallions. He kept a few mares as well, and quit travelling the show circuit. He would continue to show young horses in breeding classes, both Hackney and Thoroughbreds as well as young horses in harness, which would soon have a ready buyer. Invasion, Mrs. Combs's top harness horse of the late 1930s and 1940s was bred by Tommy Crow, sired by a Hackney horse, out of a Standardbred mare. Invasion was the winner of the heavy harness stake at the 1935 and 1946 Royal Winter Fair. Scarboro Princess, champion mare in hand for James Franceschini and Lance Rumble was also bred by Mr. Crow.
Tommy was for many years a director of the Canadian Hackney Society and President in 1934 and 1935, director of the Canadian Hunter Improvement Society, on the Stallion Enrollment Board, and served on committees for the Royal Winter Fair and CNE horse show. He continued to enter horses at the Royal and the CNE until 1948, when his name is no longer listed in the entries. He died in 1956.
Thomas Crow and James Murray were one of the greatest exhibitors of a bygone era.
(Inducted April 2018)
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