Paul Sion

The Sion strain of long distance racing pigeons holds a hallowed place in the pantheon of the world's greatest families of the thoroughbreds of the sky. And like much that is good in Europe, came out of the culture of France. Paul Sion, its originator, started in the sport in approximately 1895 and in due course set his mark. In fact what he produced crossed more national boundaries throughout the world and became the source of much joy and reward to countless fanciers.

To quote one eminent authority, A. H. Osman: 'This man has won more prizes in one season than many fanciers win in a lifetime'. Yes, Paul Sion who was later to be assisted by his son, Robert, truly exceeded (perhaps) his expectations when after becoming a fancier he adopted Luis Salembier as his teacher, the latter being one of the great French distance pigeoneers for over 50 years at that time. Sion admitted in 1935 that he belonged to the Luis Salembier school.

Upon following the advice of his mentor, Sion obtained the best of distance bloodlines including representatives of the old Verviers strain and for decades cultivated what he referred to as his old Gris (grey) strain, so called because of its origins from a son of a famous French distance racer named Gris Dugniol. Sion had purchased a champion mealy cock from M. Gris Dugniol. On the dam side his family went back to the Vekemans Red of the Wegge strain. The latter pigeon being one of the greatest in the history of the sport in Europe. The Mealy cock was bred with a mealy hen and produced a blue hen with black eyes. This hen proved to be a champion in all of her races. She was later mated to a cock of Pynen /Delathouwer bloodlines. It was from this mating that Rouge Sion, one of Sion's pivotal pigeons, was produced. The Rouge Sion went on to be a great racer and also bred many winners.

When once asked what were the requirements for success in long distance and marathon racing, Paul Sion replied- strain and constitution. A reply which was in the form of an article in which the author took, as an example, there were horses good in soft and other horses good in hard conditions, opining that there were pigeons or strains good in clear, weather conditions and others good in tough cloudy conditions. The latter strains being the best for the ultra distances.

Thus according to Sion only those birds whose forebears distinguished themselves in difficult races were in turn capable of doing the same. Whatever is ones response to Sion's position in that article, there is one notable fact and that is- he was not an advocate of inbreeding. Like his master Salembier, Sion participated in out crossing, which was based upon much thought and research into the pedigree and the background of the potential cross, the fruit of which was a strain that was almost identical in appearance. Apparently this great pigeoneer had perfected his out crossing approach to the level of a science.

Today, there are those who claim to have representatives of the Sion strain especially in the U.S.A., where they impacted upon that fancy. How pure they are, I do not know. But there is a wide agreement that when one sees a Sion one knows that it is a Sion, which is but a reflection of the genius of their founder.