Nicknamed the “Bobby Hull of the sulky” by Le Devoir at a time when that hockey great was also playing at his best and thrilling spectators. Doug Colwell said it best: “He always gave 110% for the crowds. He always left everything he had on the racetrack; he didn’t know any other way to drive his horses. That’s just how he was.” This superstar driver and trainer earned his place in harness racing immortality by the young age of 35. With 3,480 starts under his belt, purses earned in 1,823 races for a lifetime average of 0.329 and career earnings of more than half a million dollars, he was clearly a “major league” player. The racetracks in Acadievielle (his hometown), Dieppe, Moncton (where he spent his last years) and as far away as Paris, Pinehurst, Portland, Montréal and, of course, throughout the Maritimes considered Rufin one of their own. And why shouldn’t they? From his first win with Polly Reynolds through the very end of his all-too-brief career, he drove and trained many of the best pacers: Egyptian Princess, Amortizer Direct, Sym’s Best, Landy and Andy’s Son were just some of the horses he accompanied to victory. Not surprisingly, the racetrack at Saint John Exhibition Park went on to dedicate an annual race, the Rufin Barrieau Memorial, to him. Inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame on June 7, 1980.
Won his first race as a 17 year-old in 1953
In 1958 he joined Earle Avery as a trainer with Clearview Stables in Pinehurst, N.C.
Won the Alexander Memorial five times
Top driver at Fredericton (1961); Sackville Downs (1963, 1965); Brunswick Downs (1970)
On the list of top money-winning drivers in Canada in 1967
During his career he won major events at every Maritime track and established records in the Maritimes and Maine
Raced successfully in Quebec and the eastern United States (1966-70)
One of the few Maritimers to join the Miracle Mile Club, clocking 1.59.4 with Amortizer Direct in 1969
Barrieau Memorial Race established at Exhibition Park in Saint John in 1972