This archived Web page remains online for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. This page will not be altered or updated. Web pages that are archived on the Internet are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats of this page on the Contact Us page.
Louis Cyr, circa 1885-1899
The lengendary Louis Cyr from the village of St. Cyprien, Quebec, was the strongest man of his time. His feats of strength ensured that his name would not be forgotten. His mother was reported to be terrifically strong, over six feet (1.8m) tall and weighed 267 pounds (120 kg) in her prime. Little Louis followed in her footsteps. Though at five feet ten inches (1.75 m) he never attained her height, at 320 pounds (144 kg) he did exceed her weight. As a teenager he was already challenging experienced strongmen for their titles. He also gained publicity by hoisting a granite boulder weighing 480 pounds (almost 218 kg), thereby beating Michaud of Quebec, the strongest man (until then) in Canada. Louis went on to challenge strongmen in the United States and Europe and set many records including a one-finger lift of 553 pounds (about 250 kg) and a one-hand press of 273 pounds (124 kg). He also lifted a platform of 18 men on his back weighing around 4,337 pounds (1935 kg).
Perhaps one of his most memorable displays of strength occurred in Montréal in December 1891. Louis resisted the pull of four draught horses (two in each hand) as grooms stood cracking their whips to get the horses to pull harder. He completed a similar challenge in England in 1892, returning to Canada with one of the marquis of Queensberry's horses. For several years he worked as a Montréal police officer. By 1904 he weighed around 400 pounds (180 kg). Louis's health was deteriorating, brought on by inactivity and overeating. He slimmed down and won his last contest, against Hector De Carrie, before retiring in 1906. Louis Cyr died in Montréal on November 10, 1912 of a kidney ailment.
Cyr, Louis. Mémoires de l'homme le plus fort du monde. [Montréal]: Édition du Club Québec loisirs, 1983.
"Cyr, Louis." The Canadian Encyclopedia. Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1985, p. 462.
"Cyr, Louis." Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
(accessed February 11, 2005).
Livesay, Robert. Footprints in the Snow: the Heroes and Heroines of Canada. Mississauga, Ont.: Little Brick Schoolhouse, 1978.