John Wilfrid Loaring
Athlete; Olympian; Naval Officer; Businessman
Born on August 3, 1915, in Winnipeg Manitoba, John was one of three children of Charles Wilfrid Loaring and Ethel Mary (Witney) Loaring. When Johnny was eleven his family moved again, this time settling in Windsor Ontario. During the summer before his first year at Kennedy Collegiate, Loaring contracted rheumatic fever. As part of his recuperation, he began training in track and field events. In 1935 Loaring’s medals for hurdles at W.O.S.S.A., and the Ontario and Dominion track and field competitions, led to his being chosen as a member of the Canadian track team that traveled to the Centennial Games in Melbourne Australia. In 1938 he represented Canada in the Olympics held in Germany. Loaring captured silver for the 400 m hurdles. He was the youngest to compete in the event and finished just 3/10ths of a second behind the world record holder. Loaring’s time for the 400 metre race was a Canadian best and earned him sixth place in the finals. For the 4X400 metre relay, he ran the anchor position, and provided a come-from-behind sprint to give the Canadian team a fourth place finish.
Two years later John Loaring returned to Australia to participate in the British Empire Games where he received three gold medals and set a new time of 52.9 seconds in the 440 yard hurdles – a record that held until 1966. As a result of his performance, Loaring was awarded the J. W. Davies Trophy for Canada’s Track and Field Athlete of the Year in 1938. While attending the University of Western Ontario John Loaring swam for the varsity team and won the Intermediate Intercollegiate Swimming Championship four times.
When World War II exploded, John Loaring enlisted with the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve. In May of 1940, he competed and captured three titles at the Navy and Marine Championships held in England. As a Sub-Lieutenant, and then later as a Lt. Commander, Loaring served as a radar officer on British ship, achieving further acclaim by being part of the crew of a British destroyer that rescued survivors of a torpedoed passenger liner. In 1941 the Loaring family feared for John’s life after the battleship Fiji, on which he was aboard, was sunk by German submarines off the island of Crete, but he survived by swimming and clinging to remains of the ship until rescued.
After the war he returned to Windsor, to be in charge of the HMCS Hunter. In civilian life, John Loaring joined the family construction business, taking over as president after his father’s death in 1946. During the 1950s, the company designed and built projects worth in the millions of dollars, including Herman Collegiate Institute, St. Barnabas Church, and several of the buildings within the Allied Chemical complex in Amherstburg. The outdoor swimming pool was built by Loaring Construction. Throughout the rest of his life John Loaring maintained his interest in athletics. He headed the Windsor Swimming Club, as well as playing and coaching water polo there. In 1956 he was elected to the Canadian Amateur Athletic Hall of Fame. John Wilfrid Loaring died on November 20 1969.
Posthumous honours included induction into the Windsor/Essex County Sports Hall of Fame, the University of Western Ontario’s Athletic Hall of Fame, the Ontario Track and Field Association’s Hall of Fame and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
Kent, Jack.”Businessman, athlete, John W. Loaring dies”. The Windsor Star. (November 21, 1969) p. 5.
Techko, Tony. “The Loaring legend”. Windsor this month. (Feb/Mar. 1979) p. 16.
Techko, Tony and Morgan, Carl. “John Loaring: a legend then and now”. In The Olympians among us. (Tecumseh, Ont. : TraveLife, 1995).
Waddell, Dave. “Loaring legacy back in spotlight: Hall to salute 1936 silver medalist”. The Windsor Star. (Nov. 11, 2009) p. C1.
Windsor Essex County Sports Hall of Fame. “John Loaring”. [website] URL: http://wecshof.org/inductees/john-loaring/ accessed: June 28, 2016.
Additional news reports may be found using the library’s Windsor Star index.