CRHA Hall of Fame
Mary Grieve Croft - 2006 Inductee
Mary Grieve Croft of Rockwood, ON knew at an early age what career she would choose, something with horses. As a toddler standing in her mother’s flower bed reaching through the fence to pet a young foal who a few years later she knew she would eventually ride and drive.
At the age of two and three she would tie binder twine to a chair and pretend to drive it, later graduating to driving the family dog in the wagon and sleigh, then hitching calves to the sleigh and finally to horses.
She came by her love of horses honestly as her father George Grieve showed Standardbred at the Guelph Winter Fair before the Fair moved to Toronto.
Her mother Ella as a teenager was a regular hot rodder driving the family roadster. She would challenge anyone to race her on the road.
At the age of fourteen Mary bought her first mare and bred her. The result was Riddell’s Pride, a filly Mary wanted to show so badly she walked the yearling Riddle’s Pride seven miles to Fergus Fair. She got first prize and a grand total of three dollars prize money.
Pride was the dam of her first Champion stallion Lucky Locust R. Lucky was one of Mary’s many favourites. In 1956 as a yearling he won over a class of thirteen entries at the Royal Winter Fair nd was Jr. Champ and Reserve Grand to his sire “Who”. In 1957 Luck won Jr. and Reserve Grand at the Royal again.
Lucky was Grand Champion at the CNE 1958, 1960, 1961 Reserve Senior and 1963 Senior Champ and Reserve Grand. Lucky was Senior and Grand Champion at the Royal 1960, 1961. In his career he won thirteen Championships at the CNE and Royal. Another favourite was her beloved Vola Worthy who won many Champion ribbons at the CNE and Royal Winter Fair.
At the all fairs she won in turnouts, lady driver, stake classes and road races. One year she was undefeated on the race track. At Woodbridge fair in 1969 she trotted the in 1.02 winning handily and setting the track record.
Vola Worthy and Brownie Locust R. won the under pair fifteen times on the fair circuit. This pair were also named reserve Champions for their zone in 1964.
Vola and Brownie Locust R. were zone champions in 1965,
In 1967 Vola Worthy and Miss Jeanie B won the under team class at the Royal with Les Wright driving. Miss Jeanie B was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Walker.
Mary also showed Star Way B to many wins single and double with Brownie Locust R. or Vola Worthy.
J. Laird was another Croft prize winner that as paired up with Vola Worthy late in the 1973 season. They won several team classes and H. J. Laird (Skippy) won two under classes. He was later sold to a party in the United States where he showed in a four in hand Standardbred hitch, winning at Devon. Skippy was a great grandson of Mary’s first mare.
Mary competed at as many as twenty-six fairs in those days, sometimes one in the afternoon and then loaded up, show at another fair at night, then finish up the year at the Royal Winter Fair in November.
Mary quit showing her own horses in Roadster classes in 1973 but drove numerous times for other people. She drove Moorelands Joe owned by Matt and Myrtle MacDougall to many wins. Mary and Joe won the Lady’s Bike class at the Royal five years also winning the open bike and placing second in the Championship Roadster Stake. This was quite an honour as few women competed in road wagon classes.
Other favourite horses of Mary’s included Singaway Champ, a handsome dark bay stallion who in seven years of showing at the Royal captured nine Champion ribbons from Jr., Reserve and Grand Champion. Champ won Grand Champion honours in 1994 and 1995.
1996 marked Mary’s 45th consecutive year of showing at the Royal. In those years at the Royal and CNE eleven mares ad eight stallions won champion ribbons from Jr. to Grand andmost of them were homebreds.
Mary continues to reside on the farm which has been in the Grieve name for 128 years.
Beginning in 1980 she prepped and acted as agent for Standardbred sales under the name of Rockwood Stud.