Promotional portrait of Fanny “Bobbie” Rosenfeld in her Patterson’s t-shirt, ca. 1928. Photo by Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Bobbie worked at Patterson’s Chocolate Company on Queen Street in Toronto. The company was quick to offer her a secretarial job in the factory so that she could be a part of the company-sponsored athletic club.
Fanny “Bobbie” Rosenfeld
Born in 1904 in Russia, Fanny Rosenfeld immigrated to Barrie, Ontario with her family when she was just an infant. As a teenager, Fanny became known as a local star athlete. In high school, she excelled at basketball, track and hockey and was given the nickname “Bobbie”, because of her bobbed hairstyle – kept short to stay out of the way during competitions.
In 1922, Bobbie moved to Toronto with her family and joined the Y.W.H.A. She played center for the ‘Y’s basketball team, leading the team to victory in both the Toronto and Ontario championships. In 1923, on a whim, she entered a 100 yard dash at a picnic in Beaverton, and beat the Canadian champion, Rosa Grosse. This win ultimately led to her career in track.
Bobbie won her first major track meet in the same year at the Canadian National Exhibition. From there, her talents took her to the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, where she won a gold medal in the 400 meter relay and silver in the 100 meter. During her athletic career, Bobbie won many championships in track, softball and hockey.
In 1933, Bobbie was forced to retire from sports due to severe arthritis. She then turned her attention to coaching track and softball, and in 1937, she started writing a column called “Sports Reel” for the Globe and Mail.
In 1949, she was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, and in 1950, she was named Canada’s Female Athlete of the Half-Century by a poll of sportswriters. She is still considered to be Canada’s greatest all-around female athlete.