Federation of Canadian Poets

About Bill Galvin

Member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of FameBill Galvin

William (Bill) Galvin is a Canadian horse racing historian, poet, author, publisher, educator, horseman, humanitarian, publicist and former Thoroughbred racing official. He has been involved with race horses since his early boyhood days growing up in the Ottawa Valley town of Arnprior, Ontario. He attended the University of Ottawa and Wayne State University in Detroit.

During school vacations he worked as a groom for Thoroughbred and Harness horses at almost every major North American racetrack from New York to California, and also on the Ohio Fair Circuit and Ontario Jockey Club tracks.

Galvin has spent equal time working in the Thoroughbred and Harness racing sports, and has a genuine love and understanding of both sports, which is reflected in his ballads about the racetrack and its Damon Runyonesque-type characters.

He spent 20 years with the Ontario Jockey Club during the growth years of Harness racing in the Toronto area. During that time he was a harness racing publicist, a Thoroughbred racing official and director of special promotions for Thoroughbred and Harness racing.

In 1959 he cofounded, edited and published the Guineas’ Gazette, a Thoroughbred racing publication, dedicated to the sport’s grooms, hotwalkers, exercise riders, and trainers.

Other noted accomplishments during that period included documenting the history of Grand Circuit Harness racing in Canada. He was Course Director for the first Canadian Racing Officials Course for Thoroughbred and Harness racing officials at Toronto’s Humber College of Applied Arts; and was the founder and coordinator of the Provincial and Canadian Intercollegiate Harness Driving Championships, and the World Intercollegiate Harness Driving Championship, which attracted students from 11 countries around the world at Toronto’s Greenwood Raceway in 1975 where students competed for over $5,000 in scholarship money.

An innovator, Galvin also initiated and coordinated the historic revival of Trotting Races Under Saddle at Toronto’s Greenwood in 1975. Jockeys who participated in that colorful event included some of the best riders on Ontario Jockey Club tracks, including Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame rider Sandy Hawley.

In 1977 Galvin was appointed Director of Publicity and Public Relations for the Canadian Trotting Association, and in 1978 was named president of the North American Harness Racing Publicists Association.

He was executive editor of Trot Magazine and also a member of the Advisory Board, School of Equine Studies at Toronto’s Humber College of Applied Arts.

In 1978 he founded and coordinated the historic revival of trotting races on ice on Ottawa’s frozen Rideau Canal. It was a unique re-creation of a century-old tradition of early Canadian history, with modern-day harness racing stars. The inaugural event attracted some of the world’s finest harness drivers and over 35,000 spectators, including Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and his young son Michel. The event was the feature attraction of Ottawa’s now annual Winterlude celebration. The races drew international media attention with live national network television, and extensive print media and radio coverage.

In 1978 Galvin was honoured by the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada for his fund-raising efforts when he founded and was National Coordinator for the Race Against MS, a cooperative fund-raising program involving the North American Thoroughbred and Harness racing industries. The program raised five million dollars for Multiple Sclerosis research and patient care.

Galvin is the author and publisher of Ballads of the Turf and Other Doggerels (2006), a racing best seller in its third printing with excellent reviews from academics, a virtual Who’s Who in Thoroughbred horse racing and Queen Elizabeth II.

Current Affiliations

Other Positions Held

Ballads of the Turf Can be found on the bookshelves of: