Waterloo Region Generations
A record of the people of Waterloo Region, Ontario.

John Joseph Thorpe

Male 1885 - 1974  (89 years)


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  • Name John Joseph Thorpe 
    Born 1885  , Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2, 3
    Gender Male 
    Occupation 1901  Waterloo City, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Horseman 
    Occupation 1911  Toronto, York Co., Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    trainer 
    Died 1974  [2
    Honoured 2002  Toronto, York Co., Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame 
    Name J. J. Thorpe 
    Name Johnny Thorpe 
    Eby ID Number Waterloo-42223 
    Buried Mount Hope Cemetery, Waterloo City, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Person ID I42223  Generations
    Last Modified 12 Jun 2019 

    Family Sybilla Sophia Peppler,   b. 28 Jul 1888, Waterloo City, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1960  (Age 71 years) 
    Married 13 Jun 1911  Toronto, York Co., Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Children 
     1. John Joseph Thorpe,   b. 1911,   d. 1999  (Age 88 years)
     2. Robert Lloyd Thorpe,   b. 1919,   d. 4 Mar 2012, Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 93 years)
     3. Eileen Thorpe,   b. Abt 1920, Of, Elmira, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
    Last Modified 14 Jun 2019 
    Family ID F11246  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 1885 - , Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsOccupation - Horseman - 1901 - Waterloo City, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsOccupation - trainer - 1911 - Toronto, York Co., Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 13 Jun 1911 - Toronto, York Co., Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsHonoured - Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame - 2002 - Toronto, York Co., Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Mount Hope Cemetery, Waterloo City, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Photos
    John Joseph Thorpe
    John Joseph Thorpe

  • Notes 
    • John J. Thorpe trained race horses in Waterloo
      Yesterday's Heroes

      By Jeff Hicks, Record Staff

      If John J. Thorpe were still around, he'd likely light a cigarette to celebrate his recent induction into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Of course, the late head trainer for the once-mighty Seagram Stable of Waterloo would first have to find someone to bum a smoke from. For Thorpe, who died in 1974 after suffering a stroke at age 89, that was a quirky trademark of a man considered to be one of Canada's greatest thoroughbred trainers. "He never bought a cigarette but he sponged off everybody," chuckled 79-year-old Eileen Dreisinger, a Waterloo resident and one of Thorpe's three children, including Bob Thorpe and the late Jack Jr. "But, you know, he never inhaled. He would just puff on them. I guess that's what saved him because he lived a good, long life. And he had a remarkably successful and lengthy career: Thorpe galloped and exercised winners of 13 King's and Queen's Plates, Canada's pre-eminent prize in thoroughbred horse racing. He took over as Seagram's headman in 1933 and saddled Queen's Plate champion Sally Fuller two years later. Thorpe, who was born in Toronto's Cabbagetown in 1885, first went to work as an exercise boy for the famous Seagram Stable at the age of 13. He was initially hired after Joseph E. Seagram, patriarch of the Canadian whiskey distiller, saw him hanging around the old Woodbine track in Toronto. After being hired, Thorpe moved to Waterloo, where the main Seagram stables were located off Bridgeport Road for more than 80 years. The last beams of those barns, which once housed 160 horses, were removed in 1969 to make way for an apartment tower at Lincoln Road and Weber Street. The Seagram family's connection to the racing dynasty faded by the late 1970s. By that time, Seagram horses had won the Queen's Plate 20 times. Still, the legend of John Thorpe endures, as his October induction into the Hall of Fame at Woodbine proves. Thorpe served 62 years for the Seagram family before retiring in 1960. "He was a very wise horse guy," said Bob Thorpe, an 83-year-old Waterloo resident who worked with his father for 21 years. "He was never thrown off a horse. The only time he came off, the horse had fallen. And he was back on before the horse could get up. He could handle any kind of horse. It wasn't strength. It was all horse wisdom." As Bob recalls, his father's favourite horse was Canada's first great race horse, an ill-tempered rogue named Inferno. That horse kicked down so many wooden stall gates at the Waterloo stable that an iron door blocked the entrance to Inferno's stall. Thorpe regularly galloped Inferno, the bay colt which won the King's Plate in 1905. For Dreisinger, memories of her father and the Seagram Stable remind her of a happy childhood in Waterloo. "As children, we lived over there," she said. "That was our playground, the Seagram stables." But there are sad memories too. Thirteen years ago, Dreisinger's son, Mike Chris, was killed on the training track at Woodbine after being thrown from a horse into a rail. Chris, an exercise rider at 39, had been following in the footsteps of his grandfather and his father Bill, also a trainer. "Michael, like his grandfather, loved horses," Dreisinger said. "He was a fantastic young lad with horses too." And that's how John Thorpe will be remembered. A fantastic horse man who had a young man's mischievously-playful attitude, especially when he was conning colleagues into giving him free cigarettes. "He wouldn't have cigarettes with him, although he did smoke all his life," said Bob, who once pressed his father on the issue of his tobacco habit. If he didn't inhale, why did he smoke? That's what Bob wanted to know. Thorpe's answer was simple. "I just enjoy it," he said.

      \bThe Record, Sports, December 14, 2002

  • Sources 
    1. [S135] Census - ON, Waterloo, Waterloo City - 1901, Waterloo (Town/Ville) D-2 Page 9.

    2. [S192] Cemetery - ON, Waterloo, Waterloo City - Mount Hope CC#4500 Internet Link.
      Thorpe/ in loving remembrance
      (A) John Joseph/ Thorpe/ 1885-1974/
      (B) Sybilla Peppler/ 1888-1960/ beloved wife of/ John J. Thorpe/
      (C) Henry Wurm/ born Feb. 15, 1875/ died Mar. 13, 1905/ all the pain and grief is over/ every restless tossing passed/ I am now at peace forever/ safely home in heaven at/ last/
      (D) John Joseph/ Thorpe/ 1911-1999/
      (E) Frances J. Thorpe/ nee Hergott/ 1911-2003/ beloved wife of/ John J. Thorpe

    3. [S721] Vit - ON - Marriage Registration, marriage certificate 21176 (1911), John Joseph Thorpe-Savilla Sophia Peppler.
      John Joseph Thorpe, 24, trainer of Toronto, s/o Robert Thorpe (Jeweller) & Annie Connelly married Savilla Sophia Peppler, 24, residence. Town of Waterloo, d/o George C. Peppler (clerk) & Dorothy Trapp married 13 Jun 1911 Toronto.