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  The Janssens of Arendonk
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The strain which is the main focus of this article is what legends are made of, for in the sport of pigeon racing the Janssens' reputation has been confirmed by the Fancy throughout the world.

The strain which is the main focus of this article is what legends are made of, for in the sport of pigeon racing the Janssens' reputation has been confirmed by the Fancy throughout the world.

The base or core founder of the strain was Hendrik 'Drikske' Janssen who was born in 1872, and following his marriage to Pauline he fathered Louis, Adriaan, Charel and Jef (the main pigeon men) as well as two girls and three other boys. An exceptional family unit and by all accounts a humble family who loved their God and the birds, who in their belief symbolized Him. If the family had not kept pigeons the little village huddled in the north of Belgium, Arendonk, would not have been known to anyone, whereas today it owes its reputation to an exceptional family of pigeon fanciers.

Henri, the father, had his first pigeons in 1886 and was an exceptional pigeon man who laid the basis of this unique strain.The family was based upon four lines which were carefully inbred and then tested on health, performance, beauty and quality. He then moulded pigeons from the few sources based upon the above criteria which saw him owning many good pigeons between 1908 and 1914.One was the famous 'Het Blauwtje' who won 20 races. When it was required, crosses were brought into the strain to keep it right, for example birds from the Ceulemans lofts were brought in after 1919. This was to be followed by pigeons of the Schoeters family prior to 1932 and then in 1960 the 'Half Fabry' entered their breeding stock.

As racers, the Janssens favoured the short and middle distances although they were successful from the few long distant races which they entered.They were opposed to the longer races because of too many risks to the pigeons and because they did not like losing birds. When the humble Henri died in 1947 it was a heavy blow to a very close knit family, but Pauline headed the family until her death in 1967. Pauline was known far and wide for her kindness and compassion to all whom she met and the children loved her deeply. In spite of their sadness however, the family got on with life and the brothers continued the work of their father. They divided the management amongst themselves with Adriaan taking care of the nestbirds and the youngbirds,
and Louis took care of the breeders. The cleaning of the nestbowls and the basketing was left to Jef, and Charel took care of the widowers.While alive Henri had no time for widowhood but after his death the brothers installed the method.

For well over 75 Years the Janssen Bothers won 1st prizes and many others. >From 1935 to 1939 they won over 60 x 1sts, and when we look at the years from 1945 to 1951 they won 80 x 1sts. In fact in the six years between 1953 and 1958 the Janssen lofts won 152 x 1sts. From 1976 until 1985 the total of the races won were 31 at distances between 240 and 350km. So successful were they that they were suspended for a time from racing because their birds were too fast.

During the '60s and the '70s birds like 'Merckx', 'Geeloger' and others were born and can still be found in the pedigrees of successful racers today, as are others like the later 'Kleine Blauwe' and 'De Afgekeurde', icons of the sport of pigeon racing and of a strain which has when crossed given a lift to the longer distance strains throughout Europe and the world.

To conclude this tribute to the Janssens, I recall when I was at primary school of being told that the meek or the humble shall inherit the earth, and this truth has a relevancy to the Janssen dynasty of short and middle distance racing pigeons. Yes, they shall be remembered!




Liam O Comain  -
by: Liam O Comain

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