CRHA Hall of Fame
Elmer & Kay Todd - 2017 Inductees
2017 CRHA Hall of Fame Inductees
Elmer and Kay Todd always had horses in their lives. Before they had even met, they were each involved with horses, from Kay riding her horse to school every day to Elmer building a covered sled to take children to school during the long, cold Canadian winters.
In 1945 Elmer Todd travelled 220 km southeast of Saskatoon to a small town called Foam Lake to work on the Grain Exchange. It’s here he met a lovely young woman named Kathleen Virgin who was fondly called ‘Kay’ by her friends. Elmer was quickly smitten with Kay, and courtship and marriage ensued. After they were married, Elmer brought his new bride across the country to North Gower, Ontario to meet his mother. The young couple decided to settle in North Gower to take care of Elmer’s mom who was blind.
The first show horse to be owned by the newlyweds was a hackney horse that they bought in 1955. Elmer and Kay quickly became friends with 2 other horse show couples, Morris and Noreen Douglas, and Lindy and Jean Chambers. All 3 couples were just starting out, and everyone pitched in so they could all show together. Elmer and Morris each had viceroys and all three families would share them. They had many sets of shafts and would have the horses hooked to the shafts so that when the buggies came out of the ring the horses were unhooked by removing the shafts, and the next horse was snapped in and away they’d go!
In 1957 Elmer started his own business called Carleton Pumping Service which still continues today and that same year purchased his first road horse named ‘Elma Diamond’ from Earl Geddes. She was shown for a few years and was then retired as a broodmare. Elmer had great visions of breeding and raising his next road horse, and his mare blessed him with 2 fillies. Elmer used to say he drove those mares enough miles to circle the earth and they were still no damn good! As they waited patiently to find their next road horse, Elmer and Kay switched back to hackneys. Morris had bought a team of fine harness ponies named ‘Frankie & Johnny’ and Elmer bought Johnny. Turned out Johnny showed Elmer!
Earl Geddes soon found a standardbred that was renamed ‘Toddy Dean’ in honour of the family he was about to join. Elmer now had a horse he could show in both the bike and the buggy. Two years later, Elmer arrived home with another standardbred he renamed ‘Toddy’s Victory’ and Elmer’s road horse team was born. The Todd family now had an over horse, an under horse, a team and horses they could choose to show in both the wagon and bike classes. Elmer’s love of the road horse was no solidified, and he never looked back.
‘Merle LaSalle’ was a mare purchased from Creighton Carr of Picton, Ontario. This beautiful mare was followed by a horse that most will remember…’The Doctor’. Purchased from Walter Foster, The Doctor was the first horse that brought the Todd family to Toronto to show at the prestigious Royal Winter Fair.
Throughout the transition from hackney’s to standardbred’s, Kay found she was most happy supporting her husband and daughter, and not showing in the ring. Kay was a quiet force who cleaned harness, made sure the show clothes were ready and kept everyone organized and fed at the horse shows. Like many horse show families still today, the weekend hobby may not have been as rewarding for the Todd’s if it had not been for Mom’s unwavering support.
Elmer’s once-in-a-lifetime horse was soon to follow. Doug Whitam from Simcoe, Ontario sold Elmer a bay gelding with a big white blaze down his face. ‘Eyre Irish Lad’, known as Laddie became a fixture on the show circuit, travelling to Manitoba on 2 separate occasions with two different Arnold’s (Dobson and Brunton) to win both the Bike Stake at the Regina Winter Fair and the Bike Stake at the Manitoba Royal. The highlight of both Laddie and Elmer’s career was the 1985 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto where they won the Bike Stake. There was quite a party at the tack room that night!
Elmer’s goal, to win a stake class at the Royal was destined to be that year, as he left us far too soon in the early months of 1986, but his legacy has lived on through his daughter and son-in-law and grandson, Todd. Judy learned to ride and drive at an early age and partnered with ‘The Leprechaun’ (Jodie), they had many wonderful years of showing on the Eastern Ontario fair circuit. Judy’s love of road horses had her both driving in the bike showing in the ladies road horse to bike division and riding the road horse under saddle classes for her dad and later for Dave. Grandson Todd started showing at the young age of 6 in the Governess cart and then continued on in the parade pony.
Elmer and Laddie had taken great pleasure in teaching Dave to drive, and yet another road horse enthusiast was born. Dave showed Laddie until his retirement and Dave carried on the family tradition over the years with both ‘Speedy Crown’ and ‘Magnificent Sir’.
Elmer Todd and his wife Kay were great supporters of new exhibitors in the ring, and always had an encouraging word, or a drink ready to steady a shaking hand. Elmer was one of the founding fathers of the Canadian Road Horse Association and held the presidency from 1972-1973. He also held director positions on some of eastern Ontario’s fall fairs such as Richmond and the Ottawa Winter Fair and was a founding Director and President of the famous Kars fair. With a legacy left behind that is being carried on by their family, the Canadian Road Horse Association is pleased to induct Elmer & Kay Todd into the Road Horse Hall of Fame.