HomeRailwayCommunityBusinessFarmingThe SeaGallerySitemap Semple Family

If any family was ever born with racing in their blood, it was the Semple family. Tyndall Semple began his career as a blacksmith in Traveler's Rest. Despite the sleepy-sounding name of the community, this was where the first race track on the Island was located, which saw local horsemen pitting their fastest steeds against one another. After moving to Kensington in 1918, he continued in the blacksmithing trade, as well as dabbling in farming. But these jobs were really just sidelines to his real love, and he went on to become one of the most respected-- and versatile-- horsemen in the Maritime provinces. Besides breeding and training some of the region's great racers, he also was in high demand as a catch driver for other horse owners. And his skills did not diminish with age. Living proof of the adage that you are only as old as you think you are, Tyndall Semple stayed in the bike until the age of eighty-six.

As soon as Tyndall Semple set up his farm outside Kensington in 1918, he immediately went about constructing a racetrack on the property. This track-- known as the Kensington Racetrack-- almost immediately became a huge drawing card in the local area, with six thousand people attending the opening day of races. Soon, Kensington was possessed with a serious case of racing frenzy, and business owners began closing their doors early on Wednesday afternoons, because customers and employees alike all refused to be absent from the weekly event. Semple also was an avid participant in the annual New Annan Races, held in a community five minutes west of Kensington. One year, while the race was in full swing, an infamous Kensington character named Jim 'Stork' Gillis was possessed with the notion to run across the track. No sooner had he set foot on the course then he was stopped abruptly, struck hard to the ground by Tyndall Semple's horse. But 'Stork' popped back up as if nothing had happened, and without even so much as a pause, asked Tyndall in a loud voice if he had perhaps hurt the horse. While 'Stork' Gillis might have managed to steal the show that year, the races provided more thrills than any other event in the yearly calendar.

Earl SempleEarle Semple, Tyndall's son, possessed the same passion for racing as his father. In fact, Earle's son, Carl, even recalls that a heated rivalry developed between Earle and Tyndall, as each tried to shave time off the other's clockings. Earle Semple's thirty year career on the racing circuit began at the age of nine. For twenty of those years, he spent six months out of the year racing in the United States, and left horsemen in his dust on tracks all around New England. Some have suggested that, if Semple had moved permanently from the Island, he could have been one of the greatest horsemen in North America. But he would always return in the winter to his native Kensington, and based on his racing record, he did not suffer much from this loyalty to home. A fellow horseman claimed that Earle Semple knew more about horse racing in his sleep than many others knew while wide awake and driving down the track. He won twenty-five hundred races during his career-- and those are only the ones that were recorded.

Besides being an expert driver, Earle Semple was famous for breeding and training champion race horses. In the 1960s, Semple acquired a two-year-old named 'Dean Gallon' for thirty-five hundred dollars, and during his third and four years, the horse won twenty of his twenty-three races. The only three races he failed to win were those where he was involved in track accidents. This amazing percentage did not remain a secret for long, and when Semple was offered twenty thousand for the horse, it proved an offer too good to refuse. However, Dean Gallon's string of good luck only lasted until his fourth race with the new owner, when he broke off stride and suffered a career-threatening blood clot in his rump. But Semple had never lost his attachment to the horse, and after buying Dean Gallon for a thousand dollars, took him back to the Island by train. When the train arrived back in Semple with one of his horses. Kensington, he had no clue where his horse was. But he simply called out the horse's name, and the horse responded to the familiar voice with loud whinnying. After arriving back at the stables, Dean Gallon went directly to the stall he had previously occupied. Obviously, Semple's careful training had resulted in a bond that even the horse recognized. While Dean Gallon never quite recovered enough from his injury to begin racing again, he became the father of another of Earle Semple's successful race horses-- 'Cappy Gallon.'

Earle Semple married Gladys Walker in 1938 and had two sons, Ivan and Carl, who accompanied their father to the races. Carl Semple enjoyed helping his father at the track and recalls spending many summers at racing ovals throughout New England. Because of Earle Semple's contribution to the harness racing industry on the Island, he was inducted into the Prince Edward Island Sports Hall of Fame in 1989. His induction represented the culmination of over seventy years of racing history, and created a permanent monument to Kensington's leading racing family.

Hockey | Rinks | Horse Racing | 'Big Jim' Pendergast | Recreation