The history of the Belgian Pigeon sport, 1838 - 1924 Sylvain Wittouck - Hulste (BE)

Many people who read the following contribution will definitely have read the books from S. Wittouck. Books that were as it were a real source of inspiration for the development of the pigeon sport (both in the sport as the medical field. He passed away on the 20th of January 1924 at the blessed age of 86 years.

Working first as local secretary for the small council Hulste and then as a pensioner Sylvain Wittouck dedicated his entire life to the pigeon sport.

The late SYLVAIN WITTOUCK, Hulste - Born 23-12-1838.
He got pigeon fanciers reading and taught them the tricks of the trade.
Sylvain Wittouck was the pioneer in the pigeon sport. He possessed an unparalleled knowledge of racing pigeons and everything that there was to see on a pigeon, or how a good pigeon should look, and wrote it all in his books.
In 1878 his first book appeared, but previously in 1876 he was invited to speak at a congress in Ghent, to give a special talk about the oh so feared Wing disease. In 1877 he produced a guide for the pigeon activity and its members, in which special attention was paid to how the races had to be organised and the obligations of the pigeon fanciers to make sure that everything went smoothly.

Sylvain Wittouck was author of the following books :
1878 « De Reisduif ».
1891 « De Duivenliefhebberij ».
1894 La Colombophilie moderne » (Frans).
1898 Tweede druk van de Franse uitgave.
1901 Derde druk van de Franse en Vlaamse uitgave.
1903 « De Pinson du Verger - La Pie ».
1904 Nieuwe en aangepaste uitgave van de « Hedendaagse duivenliefhebberij ».
1905 « La Colombophilie parfaite ».
1906 « De Geneeskunst der Vogelen », as well as the translation from « La
Thérapeutique des Oiseaux ».
1910 «De Bescherming der Kleine Vogels ».
« La Vérité sur Ie Triage des Pigeons » and the translation of « De Waarheid over het trieëren der Duiven ».
1912 New and altered edition of « De Hedendaagse Duivenlief hebberij ».
1915 «La Colombophilie parfaite ».
« De volmaakte Duivenliefhebberij ».
Sylvain Wittouck wrote a total of 22 books, wherefrom 17 about pigeon fancying and 5 over bird learning.
In 1905 there was a great public tribute organised in Ghent to honour Sylvain Wittouck, many thousands of pigeon enthusiasts, including many from neighbouring countries, participated in this public tribute, with flowers, gifts, and a few national awards.
It does not need to be said that these books, written by Sylvain Wittouck, had unprecedented support. They were a great source of information for some authors !
In his work Mr. Wittouck not only handled all the aspects of the pigeon sport, but paid special attention to the medical science, to the extent that he was seen as a physician of the birds at home.
Sylvain Wittouck, who was a famous pigeon fancier, possessed a rare medical knowledge about pigeons. In 1869 his first pigeon loft was erected. He spent all his free time on the breeding, in-breeding, crossing, racing method etc. — and like many others, he also experienced all kinds of pigeon diseases.
The father of Sylvain Wittouck was a very famous and well respected physician, and so he had a rich collection of scientific medicine available, so that one day he decided to look for the cause of various pigeon diseases and prepare the medicine to effectively combat and cure the various pigeon diseases. All his free time was spent on this aim. He could depend on the help of his father Doctor Wittouck for many years. He took his father’s wise words into account when he was making up and administrating the medicine.
Sylvain Wittouck performed autopsies on pigeons and birds and also performed operations on living pigeons and birds. He remained studying diligently with a great determination and persistence that characterised his person. He was not discouraged by setbacks. He strengthened his mind and after years of uninterrupted observation work, he was able to put together the medicine to cure the various pigeon diseases, without the administering of it damaging the pigeon’s constitution.
Everything that he learned from the science appeared in his book « De Reisduif ».

This is broadly what Sylvain Wittouck meant in general for the Belgian pigeon sport. We could not resist the urge to define this « highness » in the pigeon sport in this book. Without doubt the current generation that get hold of the books from Sylvain Wittouck,  will be full of respect for what he did for the pigeon sport in its difficult years of development.