Near Napierville in Les Jardins-de-Napierville, Quebec — French Canadian Region
The World's Strongest Man
Louis Cyr was born here, in Saint-Cyprien-de-Napierville, on October 10, 1863. By the age of 12, he was working in a logging camp in the winter and on the family farm the rest of the year. He enjoyed impressing his fellow workers with shows of his brute strength.
Although he had an average-sized father, his mother weighed 265 pounds and was 6’1” and his maternal grandfather was 6’4”. Their size, quite remarkable in that era, gave young Louis the genes that would help him become the Hercules of his time.
In 1878, the Cyr family moved to Lowell, Massachusetts. Cyr, whose birth name was Cyprien-Noé, decided to call himself Louis, a name that was much easier to pronounce in English. There too, his incredible strength got everyone's attention. At the age of 17, he weighed 230 pounds (about 104 kg). The first strongman competition he ever entered was in Boston. He was 18 and he lifted a horse off the ground.
Louis Cyr returned to Québec with his family in 1882, where he married. The year after, he returned to Lowell with his wife, hoping to profit from his fame as a strongman. He went on a tour of the Maritime Provinces, but
Cyr worked as a police officer in Saint-Cunégonde, a municipality on the island of Montréal, from 1883 to 1885, after which he went on tour with a Troupe that included a wrestler, a boxer and a weightlifter. He entered a strongman competition in March 1886 in Québec City, pitting himself against Canadian strongman champion David Michaud. Cyr raised a 218 pound (approx. 90 kilo) barbell with one hand (compared to 158 pounds – approx. 72 kilos for Michaud) and lifted a 2 371 pound (1 075 kilo) weight on his back (compared to 2 071 pounds – 939 kilos – for his adversary), winning the title of strongest man in the country.
The Canadian Sampson, as he was called at the time, amazed spectators by performing several mind-boggling feats of strength, such as lifting 553 pounds from the ground with a single finger or lifting 4 337 pounds with his back!
Just imagine: at his pinnacle, around the age of 30, Louis Cyr weighted (sic) a little under 300 pounds. He was 5 feet, 10 1/2 inches with no shoes on. His biceps were 24 inches around, his neck was 22 inches and his forearms were nearly 19 inches. His chest circumference was nearly 60 inches! On the other hand, his abdomen was a modest
Having beaten all Canadian and American records, he was named North American champion in 1885. In 1889, without bending his knees and without the weight touching any other part of his body, he successfully lifted 250 kg with one finger, 1 860 kg on his back and 124 kg over his head using only one hand.
In December of 1891, in a park in Montréal before a crowd of 10 000 people, he resisted the pulling power of four horses that were tied to his arms on either side of his body. His reputation had now spread beyond the continent and he was invited to perform in England in 1892. He won every competition and was named champion of the world. Louis Cyr was welcomed with great honor wherever he went, even by the Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria.
In fact, it was in England that he performed his most famous feats. At his physical best in 1895, at the age of 32, he lifted a platform on his back that held 18 men with a combined weight of 1 967 kg. He did it again the following May in the United States, lifting an additional 150 kilos.
The Famous Fight
At the turn of the century, wrestling was a favourite sport of French Canadians in Québec. Since Beaupré was going to be in Montréal, it was a given that the wrestling promoters would try to organize a fight between him and Louis Cyr, Québec's celebrated Hercules. The fight was scheduled for March 25, 1901. Montréal's La Presse newspaper dedicated to columns to the event:
“The wrestling match held yesterday evening at Park Sohmer between Beaupré and Cyr, the country's largest man and the country's longest, was incredibly short. Cyr triumphed with unbelievable ease. Beaupré the Giant hardly dared lay a hand on him... Never has a man seemed so timid. We expected Cyr to win, but not quite so easily. Although Cyr overthrew his adversary four times, twice it was outside of the mat and therefore declared null by the referee. Cyr quickly discovered Beaupré's weak spot, seizing him by the small of the back each time. The fight was quite a spectacle, greatly entertaining the thousand or so people who had gathered to watch. If Beaupré had been a little less hesitant, the match might have lasted longer. As it was, it was over in a few short minutes.”
In 1904, Louis Cyr's health began to decline. Giants have their limits too, you know! A lack of activity and weight gain did not help (Cyr was 400 lbs at his largest). He did his best to lose weight and train in order to beat Hector Décarie on June 26, 1906. This last major competition ended in a tie. Louis Cyr kept his title as the world's strongest man, however, having remained unbeaten.
Erected 2013 by Municipality of Saint-Cyprien-de-Napierville.
Location. 45° 10.134′ N, 73° 22.76′ W. Marker is near Napierville, Quebec, in Les Jardins-de-Napierville. Marker is on Louis-Cyr Road (Quebec Route 221) 3 kilometers north of 3rd Line Road, on the right when traveling north. Marker is incorporated into a simple roadside rest area. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 105 Louis-Cyr Road, Napierville, Quebec J0J 1L0, Canada. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 14 kilometers of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Chantier Naval de Île-aux-Noix (approx. 9.8 kilometers away); The Royal Navy (approx. 10.2 kilometers away); Fort Lennox (approx. 10.3 kilometers away); Blockhaus de la Rivière-Lacolle (approx. 11.4 kilometers away); a different marker also named Blockhaus de la Rivière-Lacolle (approx. 11.5 kilometers away); Bataille du Moulin de Lacolle / Battle of the Lacolle Mill (approx. 11.6 kilometers away); Caldwell Manor (approx. 13.3 kilometers away); La Bataille d’Odelltown / Battle of Odelltown (approx. 14.1 kilometers away).
Regarding Louis Cyr. A fantastic (mostly true) biopic movie was released in 2013 about the life of Louis Cyr.
Also see . . . Wikipedia - Louis Cyr. (Submitted on October 21, 2015, by Kevin Craft of Bedford, Quebec.)
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More. Search the internet for Louis Cyr.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 1, 2020. This page originally submitted on October 21, 2015, by Kevin Craft of Bedford, Quebec. This page has been viewed 242 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on October 21, 2015, by Kevin Craft of Bedford, Quebec.