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Champion beverages

The September 7 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad for O’Keefe beverages, in which they were endorsed by two famous rowers.

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Bobby Pearce (1905-1976) was an Australian rower who won gold in the 1928 and 1932 Olympic Games. This did not protect him from the Great Depression: he entered the 1930 Empire Games in Hamilton, Ontario only due to the charity of friends. He managed to land a job in Hamilton after the games, which must have been a blessed relief.

Ted Phelps was a British rowing champion. He doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, but there is newsreel footage of him being interviewed, and I found an article on him and his brother Eric, both of whom were professional rowers.

Pearce and Phelps wound up in an O’Keefe ad because the World Sculling Championship took place in Toronto in 1933, in which Pearce beat Phelps before a crowd of approximately 30,000. Phelps had won the three previous titles, so this was an impressive accomplishment.

Pearce won the next two title matches, in 1934 and 1938, and retired undefeated. He spent the rest of his life in Canada, and is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto.

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