The Tournier Strain:

The story of the strain Tournier : 20th century

Tournier is almost 100 years of pigeon racing of the highest level. This is the wonderful performance of the Tournier-strain, which can only be matched by the Janssen brothers. Although it is not excluded that somewhere some traditional strain has resisted the ravages of time, it is by all means very unlikely. The Tournier-strain is of exceptional value. Perhaps less homogeneous than the Janssen-strain but this was never the aim of the founders. The late Jacq Tournier and his son-successor Edmond have always kept a certain degree of diversity in order to maintain the vitality. Continuously the have been looking for the better pigeon, either by breeding it themselves or buying it elsewhere.

The story begins in 1901 with the birth of Jacq Tournier. He was a son of an important undertaker. Jacq has already some pigeons on the age of 10 but his father told him that studies were more important. The real start came in 1914. The neighbour had some pigeons for Jacq who immediately found a place for this youngsters. ‘World War I’ came and than school got priority but Jacq managed to keep his pigeons. He started in the business of his father with ready-made clothes and suits. Jacq made contact with several pigeon-fanciers in Belgium by selling this suits. He visited the famous champion Gurnay from Verviers and bought some pigeons. The young man Jacq Tournier already invested in good birds. He was sure that pedigrees only have a value when several 1st prize winners are in the pedigree. Pigeons who can fly on their own are the best. It’s an heredity quality.

Jacq was lucky not to lose pigeons in World War II. The German enemy did not take his birds. Many other fanciers were not so lucky. So Jacq Tournier had a head start in pigeon racing immediately after the War in September 1944. He started breeding many pigeons for himself and for several fanciers from The Netherlands who wanted his birds. Lommel is on the border with The Netherlands so it was understandable that they would come to the famous Tournier. Pigeon racing started again in 1946. The year 1947 was very successful for Tournier. Jacq shattered the opponents. He basketed 8 pigeons for the provincial race from Chateauroux and won 1-2-3 in Antwerp (4th place for famous Huyskens-Van Riel). The press printed “Tournier is the best pigeon loft in Belgium”. More fanciers, especially from The Netherlands, came to buy  Tournier birds. Jacq wanted to look ahead. He wanted even better pigeons himself and went to : Jan Hermans (Luythaegen), Tist Geuens (Mol) where he bought his basic cock ‘Blauwen Tist’, Omer Dekeyzer (Oudenaarde) where he bought the legendary basic cock ‘Pommelé 4207842/47’. The famous grizzle colour came into the strain Tournier with this bird. Mainly with ‘Goed Wit 216’ this colour got spread all over the world. Grizzles from Tournier came on the loft Arie van den Hoek and than back to Belgium. The ‘grizzles from van den Hoek’ were very famous. Don’t forget that the most famous breeding pair of van den Hoek ‘Othello’ x ‘Nel’ were 95%  blood Tournier. Arie van den Hoek and Jacq Tournier were good friends; both making articles for ‘De Duif’ (pigeon newspaper in Belgium) and ‘NPO’ (national pigeon magazine of The Netherlands) Two grand-masters in pigeon racing and two intelligent personalities. The strain van den Hoek was popular. The public sale after Arie van den Hoek died in 1979 was a big success. Edmond Tournier (son of Edmond who became manager of the loft in 1976) had to pay lots of money to buy 3 of the best birds on this sale: ‘Vechter’, ‘Weerlicht’ and ‘Zijspoor’. A good move because grizzle birds van den Hoek were the top strain in the world on 500-700 km. Tournier bred  all-round pigeons. Edmond and Jacq raced from March until October; from 100-1100 km. Let us look to 1958 for instance.  Tournier won head prizes in April on Quievrain (130 km) and had super results in May on Corbeil, Toury and St-Denis (300-400 km). He won 1-4-8-9-10-13…on Orleans in June and top prizes on Cahors, Bordeaux, Vannes and Chateauroux. Than came July…Barcelona…Jacq and later Edmond was afraid to enter the best birds on Barcelona but almost won the race. The cock ‘Schalie Barcelona’ won 2nd national and 2nd international Barcelona in 1958. Only the bird of Gilbert Vandeweghe (Olsene) was faster at that moment.

The best birds on speed races in 1958-1962 were ‘Zolder 5016023/56’ and ‘Goede Kleine 5080442/58’. ‘Zolder’ was strain ‘Kleine Blauwe Maes’ (Rene Maes from Herenthout) and ‘Blauwen Tist’. This cock won many speed races. But he had the blood for long distance races. The offspring proved it; 2nd -7th and 9th on Barcelona international from strain ‘Zolder’! ‘Goede Kleine’ was line Maes x ‘Witkop’ (strain Liekens). It was very difficult to beat this cock on speed races. He won more than 10 times 1st prizes. He proved even better on the breeding loft. Via Frans Derks (remember this name for later!) from Geldrop (NL) came this line to the loft Jos van Limpt (De Klak) from Reusel (NL). Although we don’t see many birds on loft Jos van Limpt from this line, other fanciers had very good results with Jos van Limpt line Tournier: H. v.d. Mierden (Steensel) and ‘Schroevers’ (Arnemuiden). The offspring from ‘Goede Kleine’ had good results in Lepelstraat Lommel: ‘Goede Donkere 315/68’ was excellent racer and father of ‘Spikkel 51/73’ (1st Dourdan, 1st Bourges, 1st Brive). The basic cock of the famous Piet van de Merwe (Dordrecht) is a grandson of this ‘Goede Donkere’. Another famous basic cock in Lommel was ‘De Baron 5012340/73’. History repeats itself. ‘De Baron’ (line ‘Kleine Blauwe Maes’ and ‘Goede Kleine) was super on speed races: he won in 1975 and 1976 about 39 prizes with 11 x 1st prize and 24 x in top 10. His offspring had equal results on longer distances: ‘Jonge Baron 004/76’ won on Quievrain but also 1st on interprovincial  Chateauroux; ‘Argenton III 5020802/91’ won 1st semi-national Argenton in 1992. Several fanciers all over the world won 1st prizes with line ‘Baron’: F. & H. Moris (1st nat. Bourges 7750p), Jan Hermans (1st nat. Orleans + car) , Van Sambeeck bros (1st intern. Marseille hens), Rob Hoekstra (3rd nat. Bergerac 22.510p + car), Dr. Piaget (USA), Rudy Smids…

Another important pigeons in the Tournier history (the most popular line?) is ‘Valk-line’. I cannot think of one championship or national race that is not won by offspring of ‘Valk’. It started with the birth of ‘Oude Valk 5083104/53’. He was born from ‘390/52’ ( direct son from Blauwe Tist x Blauw Witpen Maes) and ‘362/52’ (strain Wegge x voske 656). ‘Oude Valk’ won 1st prizes and once also 1-2nd provincial together with his sir ‘390/52’. He got more fame on the breeding loft. His famous sons were ‘Scherpoog’, ‘Fondvalk’, ‘vale 337’ and probably the most famous ‘Valkje 472’. ‘Valkje 472’ is known as one of the best breeders even in the history of pigeon racing. His mother was ‘Fondduivin 17/54’ who won more than 30 races (+700 km) and 7 times on Barcelona. Some fanciers who succeeded with ‘Valk’-strain: vd Hoek, Postma, Jos van den Bosch, Geyskens and even ‘10’ of Jantje Theelen has via Jan Poels blood of ‘Valk’. But ‘Valkje 472’ is special on very long distance: J. Offermans won 1st national Barcelona with granddaughter, Henk de Beus won 1st mid-fond ace pigeon in Holland, (2x Valkje 472 in the mother), Jan van Engelen wins 1st Etampes 13.316p  with his ‘Valkje 716/81’. Every year won birds from this line on national races. In 1980 were 3 of 5 national ace pigeons in The Netherlands of strain Tournier.

A new addition of  new blood on the Tournier loft, came with ‘Oude Witoger 6108857/65. Jacq bought the cock from Ceulemans from Berlaar and he became new basic cock. Famous sons of him were ‘Goede Donkeren 555’, ‘Goede Blauwe 55’ and ‘Blauw 192’. It were champion flyers from 100-1000 km and all bred several good racers. ‘Goede Donkere 555’ is father of ‘Geschelpt 569’. He is the father of ‘Bourgeske 037/76’ (1st provincial Bourges and 5th national St-Vincent). She is also the mother of ‘Barcelona IV 5010386/77’ (1st provincial Barcelona, 10th national Barcelona, 16th international Barcelona). This basic cock  of the 80’s is grandfather of ‘Montauban 631/86’(1st provincial Cahors and 4th provincial Montauban) and ‘Jackpot’ (1st Chartres 18.499p).

The strain Tournier has a variety of colours. I still notice it on the loft in 2007. Vitality, character an endurance has always been more important than a certain type or colour of racing pigeon. Jacq and Edmond were looking for a ‘sport-pigeon’ that could win in every race and all weather. The red colour in the colony of pigeons came from several strains but mostly from ‘Rooie NL2560919/77’ van Sjefke den Oude uit Halsteren NL. I will tell more about this strain later.

The end of the 20th century is coming in my story. I already talked about some special Tournier pigeons: ‘Valk’, ‘Goede Kleine’, ‘Zolder’ and ‘Baron’. There were more pigeons but I cannot talk about them all. Edmond Tournier was born in 1948. He was the youngest of 9 children. In the beginning his brother, Jacq Jr.,  was also interested in pigeons. But it was Edmond who married in 1976 and started managing the colony of Jacq Tournier senior. He became the owner and Jacq only raced on a small loft with some speed pigeons. The biggest competition came from Luc Vermeijen, brother-in-law of Edmond. It wasn’t easy to follow in the footsteps of a famous man like Jacq Tournier. Son Edmond managed to keep the fame of the strain Tournier high. He kept on winning championships and provincial victories. De Lepelstraat in Lommel was still the pilgrimage place for pigeon fanciers all over the world. It was in the beginning of the 80’s that another main pigeon was born in this loft. It was ‘Black Jack 5061335/81’. The father was ‘Goede Geschelpte 010/69’ and the mother was ‘426/70’. Many pigeons were still  vital  on old age. ‘Black Jack’ won many races but managed to win 1st provincial Cahors in 1984 with headwind  and 30 ° C. He won 30th national against 5007p. ‘Black Jack’ became a really important breeder. His son ‘De Montauban 631/86’ won 1st provincial Cahors 1989; his daughter ‘Marathonduivinneke 700/87’ won  8th provincial Pau and 18th inter-provincial Perpignan;  son ‘Cahors II 5150305/88’won 2x 1st prize on Cahors in the club (nat. 513-266) but also 196th  national Perpignan. Other sons were ‘De Brive’ (9th provincial Brive), ‘De Neger’ (1st Vervins)…etc. Offspring  were very successful for other fanciers: Johan Bergsma won 1st provincial Bergerac with grandson ‘Black Jack’ and ‘Jackpot’ won 1st Chartres 9486p. I still found some blood ‘Black Jack’ in the top-birds 2007!


The new Edmond Tournier in the 21st century

Jacq Tournier died in 1989 but Edmond was already the manager of the loft Tournier since 1976. He make the strain Tournier into a business. Where his father gave a pigeon when a customer bought a suit. Edmond turned it around. He  gave a suit when a customer bought a pigeon. When Edmond took over the birds in 1976, he put the best speed racers on breeding loft and entered 6 of this speed birds on St-Vincent race. All 6 pigeons had prize on this long distance race. Edmond specialized on the races 500-600 km. He also entered the very long distance but was afraid to put the best birds on Barcelona. Edmond won from 1976-1989 30 times a provincial race; also Barcelona! Edmond knew that Holland had excellent racing pigeons for the very long distance. He knew that he had to add this excellent strain into his own strain. The ‘Zilvervosje’ from Meesters, the ‘38’ and ‘49’ from Jan Aarden, the ‘90’ and ‘Spin’ of van Wanroy. The ‘Dolle’ from Van Geel and ‘Oud doffertje’ from van der Wegen were birds that made history in pigeon racing and breeding in Holland. The Netherlands also had two extra breeding pairs in their history: ‘07’ son spin x ‘69’ sister Pau of Kuypers bros and “Ijzeren 44’ Braakhuis x ‘Oud Zwart’ Braakhuis. The hen from ‘Golden Pair’ Marcel Braakhuis was ‘NL978664/73’. She was bred from ‘NL1557419/68’. This cock won 3rd national Dax for Braakhuis. The brother ‘NL295023/65’ won 3rd national St-Vncent 10.983p + car in 1967 for Marcel Braakhuis. These brothers were 100% Tournier from line ‘Valk 472’. Edmond bred on his lofts in 1983 with a direct daughter of this Golden Pair. She became a good breeding hen. A grandson of her was ‘Perpignan I 5010116/90’. He won 125th nat. Narbonne ’91, 134th national Barcelona ’93 and 54th national Perpignan ’93. The red colour in the strain was mainly from ‘Rooie NL256+0919/77’ from Sjefke den Ouden (Halsteren). This ‘Worldchampion’ (said Piet de Weerd) won 1st nat. St-Vincent 30.683p +car, 8th national St-Vincent 14.645p and 16th national dax 6981p. He was really one of the best long distance racers ever in The Netherlands. Edmond bought this cock (with partner Jan Hermans) and bred several youngsters before selling him to MR. Kaku from Japan. This proved to be a succes in his strainbuilding. Also a son of ‘Kuypers 57’ x ‘Smaragd I’ moved from Jan Hermans to Lommel. Edmond and Jan were good friend and shared some birds. Edmond got via Jan a son and a daughter of ‘Oud doffertje I’ from Albert Simons. Tournier x top birds from The Netherlands matched together superb.  

The big bang came in  February 1994. All the Tournier pigeons (except youngsters 1993) were sold in a public auction by ‘De Duif’. It was a big success. Edmond wanted some rest in his life. He had been living among pigeons and pigeon fanciers since he was born. Visitors every day. He was tired of this. He wanted less pigeons, less business in pigeons. The racing results were not as good as before the auction. Edmond decided to sell all his birds in 1999. Not one bird was on the loft after this auction. He was happy but it did not last very long. He started to miss the pigeons rapidly. Frans Derks has been a good friend of Jacq and  Edmond for many years. He visited Tournier weekly.  Frans Derks was a rich business man from Geldrop (NL) and owned many pigeons. He bought pigeons at the best long distance lofts in Belgium and The Netherlands. One could not name one famous fancier who did not have Frans Derks on his loft. He also had many Tournier pigeons in his strain, and Tournier had several pigeons Frans Derks in his pigeons. These fanciers made a agreement. The best breeders of Frans were put on the loft Tournier. Edmond Tournier would breed, Frans Derks would race. But this plans could not take place. Frans died on 30th December 1999. About half of the famous breeders were in the loft Tournier. The family Derks made an agreement with Edmond that he could keep this birds. Tournier entered the 21st century with mainly birds from the best long distance fanciers in The Netherlands. Edmond got some of his own strain back and started breeding with all the birds in 2000 and 2001. He had new plans. He wanted to enjoy pigeon racing and enter a few very long distance races in the future ( mainly Barcelona, St-Vincent and Bordeaux). He would think about a new simple system. (I will tell you this later in another chapter.)

Edmond started tossing youngsters again in 2002. He entered a few races in 2003 and 2004. Just to see which pigeons were the best. The big exams were in 2005 and 2006. He entered with many pigeons on a few very long distance races. He was astonished of the result. The birds (Dutch blood x Tournier) did very good. The Tournier-strain is back. We haven’t seen the last of him yet.

Edmond does not have the breeders of Frans Derks anymore. These old birds were sold because he does not want breeders anymore. He only wants pigeons that can fly out of the loft every day. All the birds are on the loft on the second floor.  The lofts on the ground removed. Less work but more pleasure!  

"Only the Strong Survives..."