Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Dr. L. Donald Morrow


The purpose of this thesis was to present a biographical account of the athletic career of Henry Robert "Bob" Pearce, a twentieth-century Australian-Canadian single sculler. The primary focus of the study was on Pearce's amateur and professional sculling career. Additional material was provided to highlight his sculling technique, training methods, and character. Information essential to the compiling of this biography was obtained primarily from the following sources: i) A variety of newspapers for the period 19281939. ii) Personal files of "Bob" Pearce's son, Robert Pearce Jr. iii) Interviews with relatives, close friends and clubmates of Henry Robert Pearce. Henry Robert "Bob" Pearce was endowed with a remarkable heritage in the sport of rowing. His father, Harry Pearce, was a seven-time professional sculling champion of Australia and contested the world title, unsuccessfully, on two separate occasions (1911 and 1913). Pearce's paternal grandfather, Henry John "Footy" Pearce, was also an accomplished single sculler. Born in Sydney, Australia, on September 30, 1905, Bob Pearce entered and won his first sculling race, a iii handicap event for boys under sixteen, at the age of six. He did not resume his competitive sculling career until 1926. In the space of one year he became the premier amateur sculler in Australia and was selected to represent his country at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. Five years later, with two Olympic single sculling championships and several other prestigious victories to his credit, he turned professional. In his first attempt, Pearce won the professional sculling championship of the world, and successfully defended the title until the outbreak of World War Two forced his retirement. Bob Pearce took up permanent residence in Canada after competing in and winning the single sculls event at the 1930 British Empire (now Commonwealth) Games in Hamilton. For a period of ten years he was the premier single sculler of the era. Renowned for his record of achievement, Pearce was also acclaimed for his exceptional sculling technique. Bob Pearce possessed a tenacious competitive spirit and his approach to training bordered on fanaticism. In a 1970 press poll he was voted Australia's greatest athlete in its two hundred year history. In 1975, approximately one year before his death, he was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. It was found in this study that the technique of using a chronological account of the athletic career of Henry Robert "Bob" Pearce was an effective biographical method.



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