Born: March 18, 1916
Died: February 8, 2003
Married: Sylvia D'Onofrio
Children: Linda Piro, Deborah Trim, Arthur Charland
Art Charland set a long-standing record in running the mile for Saranac Lake High School in the 1930s. He was a member of the Saranac Lake Hall of Fame.
He won the Willard Hanmer Guideboat Race in 1977.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, February 10, 2003
Arthur J. Charland
Born in Saranac Lake on March 18, 1916, he was the son of Nelson and Amy (Young) Charland.
Mr. Charland married the former Sylvia D'Onofrio on July 4, 1938 in Lake Placid. He was a lifelong resident of Saranac Lake and was a member of the Saranac Lake High School Hall of Fame for track and field. Arthur was employed as a police officer for the village of Saranac Lake in the 1920s and 1930s, and was a Veteran of WWII serving in the Army. He later worked construction for Mayerson's and was empoyed by Swift and Co., retiring as superintendent in the 1970s after 35 years of service. He had also worked for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation at Rollins Pond and for the Saranac Lake Village Highway Department. He was the member of the Hare and Beagle Club and was an outdoorsman, enjoying fishing and hunting.
Mr. Charland is survived by his wife Sylvia of Saranac Lake; two daughters: Linda Piro and her husband Rocco of Saranac Lake and Deborah Trim and her husband Gerald of Saranac Lake; a son, Arthur Charland, and his wife Terry of Saranac Lake; four grandchildren; six great-grand-children; one sister, Dorothea Melvin of Albany and several nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by an infant son, Nelson James Charland and 11 brothers and sisters.
Visitation will be at the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. today. A Bible vigil will be held at. 3:45 p.m. and a Veteran's service will be held at 7;30 p.m. A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at St. Bernard's Church, With the Rev. Thomas Kornmeyer and the Rev. Patrick O'Reilly concelebrating. Cremation will follow with burial in St. Bernard's Cemetery in Saranac Lake in May.
Friends wishing to remember Mr. Charland may make memorial contributions to the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department Rescue Squad in care of the funeral home.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, April 15, 1970
Art Charland 'Breaks' Redskin Cinder Mark
The Saranac Lake Redskin cinder squad has yet to hear the first gun of the 1970 season and already a school standard has been shattered.
The "record breaker" is Art Charland of 38 Ampersand Avenue who laid claim to running the fastest mile ever in the Red and White after recently uncovering letter dated May 30, 1937 attesting to earlier reports that Charland had indeed held the mile mark for SLHS.
A campaign two years ago to update the Redskins' record books led to many different reports from would-be record holders but at that time only Brian Pelkey with a 4:48 could support his claim of running the fastest mile in SLHS history.
Art Charland—as the letter written by the then track coach Ken Wilson to a college coach states — covered the mile in 4:30 thus moving Charland ahead of the "modern day" Pelkey and into the record books some 30 years after the eventful day.
The letter written by Athletic Director Ken Wilson in 1937 says:
To Whom It May Concern, I have known Art Charland for the past 12 years and he was a member of my track and cross country squads during his 'four years of high school. During those years he has compiled a wonderful record.
He has run the mile in 4:30 and on that occasion he defeated Ray Trail who is now a freshman at Holy Cross. I am sure that if he had an opportunity in college that he would do well.
He is a boy that trains well and a willing worker. I hold a high regard for him and am sure that what anyone can do for him he will appreciate it.
One can rely on his word and what ever he says about his track work. I will stand back of him for any further information with regards to Arthur Charland write to
Kenneth M. Wilson Director of Athletics Saranac Lake High School Saranac Lake, N.Y.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, September 10, 1976
Saranac Lake's mid-30'S miracle miler ran a strangely parallel course with that of Ray Trail, the Mohawk sensation from Hogansburg, and was perhaps the only clear cut challenger for Trail's title as the best in the North.
Art Charland's biggest mistake was running out his eligibility in track and cross country before he was a senior in high school and substituting football, basketball, and hockey as an outlet for a strong competitive spirit.
Art came out of enforced retirement as a runner in 1936 after two years in mothballs to face the biggest challenge in his high school track career. Coach Kenneth Wilson had entered him in the National AAU indoor scholastic track carnival in Madison Square Garden. Wilson's unbounded faith in Charland's ability superseded all the laws of reason or chance.
Art was a pure running machine with a one-gear transmission labeled "speed." But he was to be matched against the best high school and prep school milers in 24 states. Ray Trail, whose tragic story we have published, reached his absolute peak form after leaving two northern league schools to compete for Mont Pleasant High School in Schenectady. Trail was already the established world and national record holder at a mile both indoors and outdoors.
Art Charland had beaten Trail in the mile at Canton in 1935. It was a victory he cherished and one he felt he could repeat had circumstances been altered. Art clocked a 4:31; in winning against Trail whose best time at Massena had been 4:33. Both runners broke the state high school record which was 4:45 at the time. The world record was 4:12, held by Glenn Cunningham of Kansas.
Between 1933 and 1934 Art had won the sectional crown twice in the mile and had never been beaten in cross-country. He feels that he might have run against Trail in cross-country and beaten him. He isn't certain! But time had eventually worked in favor of Trail, and the Mohawk also held the national cross-country-crown.
Always Up Front
Bernard "Bones" Robinson, who was a cross country star for SLHS in the Charland years, said that in competition, Art simply got out first and ran up front all the way. When the rest of the pack had reached the finish line Art had already showered and dressed and was there to watch the finish.
Nobody ever pushed Art to championship clockings but he won consistently at his usual ground-burning pace. Since Art had started -winning in the seventh grade he was getting into his prime year when his eligibility in track ran out. How good he really was would probably never be known.
But in his heart, Art knew how good he was and once entered in the 1936 Madison Square Garden Championships to be run in February, he launched a program of getting in shape that would have discouraged any coach alive.
He ran on a three-nights-a-week schedule in he lower hail of the old high school at Petrova. Up the hall and down the hall. . . up and down the hall. . . the clockwork pace in the narrow tunnel was a mental hurdle he had to over-come. He ran a thousand miles in the confining space.
He couldn't run outdoors in December and January so it had to be now or never. No timer could even keep track of his efforts. He was doing all on his own, and coach Wilson kept Art's moral up the best way he could. .. through encouragement and confidence in his man.
Moment of Truth
When the day came for Art to face the country's best milers he packed his running shoes and track suit. Johnny Munn and Robert LeBeau went with him to New York, and the moment of truth had arrived for Art Charland.
Art said, "We ran the mile in three heats. The. best times made were taken from these three heats to determine the best four runners who would meet in the final."
"The second, third and fourth qualifiers were picked from Art's heat. Trail was third, and I was fourth." In the final Art got off the mark in he only way he knew how. . . charging right to he front. He was going against Dick Slade of Nott Terrace, James McCartney of Bishop Loughlin of Brooklyn and Ray Trail, the Mont Pleasant favorite to win and eclipse the old mark held by Bill Murch of Manchester, N.H.
Art, whose nickname was "Guts," showed it that memorable day in Madison Square Garden. He led the fastest interscholastic milers in the U.S.A. for six of the ten laps, but the heats and the strangeness of running on an indoor track for the first time in his life combined to Jet him down. He had no finish kick. He ran fourth. Ray Trail won the gold medal in 4.31.06 and all four broke the existing Garden record by a full second or more. Arts says he doesn't remember it just that way but the New York City newspapers gave the race national coverage and that's the way it was.
In reminiscing about Ray Trail, Art said that he beat him at Canton because his father had promised him a boat and motor if he "would go out and beat the Indian." It was an added incentive of course but Art said that he always felt he could beat him. "His coach didn't want Trail to run against me, so coach Wilson entered me in the quarter-mile and the half-mile at Canton. When I faced him in the mile I had everything to gain and nothing to lose and I went out to beat him."
Art says today that as far as he is concerned, Ray Trail was the best runner Massena ever had. "He was like the rest of us school boys, proud of what he could do. I think Trail over trained from what he told me. He would run a half mile against a horse running a mile." "He was never a'showoff," Art recalled, "and never ran at Saranac Lake so few local people got a look at him. His reputation as a great miler was well deserved."
"The last time I saw him and talked with him he was in the Saranac Lake General Hospital. He had had a physical breakdown." Art may have been the equal of Trail if he had been exposed to the same regimen and track training program the Mohawk star enjoyed at Mont Pleasant and running against the best distance men in the country on a steady basis of competition both summer and winter.
Art treasures a letter written on his behalf by Coach Kenneth Wilson which states unequivocally that he was a runner of unusual ability and qualifications and hoped that it would get him a trial where his athletic talent would be recognized.