Article 1

The Huysken Van Riel Strain

The strain under consideration is one that has left its mark upon the history of pigeon racing world wide, and that is the Huyskens - Van Riel. Upon coming together as a partnership Cois Huyskens and Jef Van Riel set the pigeon racing world alight even to the extent of allegedly destroying the great Union of Antwerp. For since the end of the 2nd World War and the liberation of Belgium, for approximately 11 years their accomplishments at national and international level were phenomenal. With many great prizes from Barcelona and Limoges etc.

From lofts situated in the garden of Frank Huyskens at Kapelse Steenweg in Ekeren-Donk, Belgium, there arose a family of pigeons shrouded in mystery for the owners were considered secretive in relation to the origin of their stock. Apparently their lofts started with pigeons of different strains purchased from fanciers known only to the partnership.Of course the mangerial ability of the partners forged from pure pigeon gold the final strain of a type which they called their own.

Some sources suggest that Joseph Van den Bosch of Berlaar, Lier, had a letter which confirmed that the foundation birds of the Huyskens- Van Riel family were purchased from Van den Bosch. Others opined that there was no foundation for this claim, although there is evidence that a round of eggs were purchased from Van den Bosch in 1946 by Jef van Riel, eventually resulting in some outstanding racing successes after crosses with others. Another source supports the theory that the origins of the strain arose from birds purchased from Henri Verwimp of Ekere and Georges De Jaegher of Melden, suggesting that within their bloodlines were the 'Old Light One' of the former and the 'Blue Grey Eye' of the latter. Whatever the origins there is no doubt that the strain developed led where many others failed and that the partnership was a unique one in the history of European pigeon racing.

Jef Van Riel obtained his love of the sport from his father and from about 1920 onwards had many successes, but decided in 1936 to try his birds against the members of the Antwerp Union. Upon his successes however the union changed its boundaries and excluded Van Riel from participating. Disgusted with this non sportsmanship Van Riel sold approximately 60 of his best to De Scheemaker Brothers of Schoten and the rest went to Huyskens of Ekeren. Those left were disposed of. Thus Van Riel had got rid of the bug of pigeon racing or so he thought but it was only for a short time for he returned to the sport in 1939 through the friendship of Cois Huyskens. The war of course intervened in the meantime but it was inevitable that the
growing friendship of the eventual partners would ensure the emergence of a sporting legend.

The key element was Huyskens who was in pigeons since 1929 and who was in the position of retaining
some pigeons during the war although under occupation.

When liberation came, the new partnership was forged with their stock containing the bloodlines of Vincent Marien, via Van Wetteren, for that was the old Van Riel family as sold to Huyskens in the late 1930s. The latter also included the blood of Fierens of Deurne and the Nuyens strain. So can we assume inspite of the mystery of purchases after the war that we have some knowledge of what lay at the base of the Huyskens- Van Riel? I believe we can but it would be ill advised to ignore the above reference to the purchase of eggs from Van den Bosch. Van Riel and his friend Rene Stijnen according to an important source bought eggs from Van den Bosch. That source being Ad Schaerlaeckens, one of pigeondom's most reputable commentators. Well perhaps beyond the apparent secretive nature of the post war partnership the latter family and those referred too earlier all formed the foundation. Whatever the facts there is no doubt that
the strain has become a part of the gallery of outstanding long distance and marathon pigeon racing. The
alleged mystery surrounding its origins cannot deny this truth.

As stated, the partnership's bloodlines won at home and abroad with triumphs too numerous to record in the space available but alas in 1957 on the dates of the 13th & 20th of January this strain of outstanding pigeons were sold in Brussels and in Antwerp. Sadness for an end to a partnership but an opportunity for the harnessing of pure pigeon gold by those who purchased. For today throughout the world there are many outstanding lofts of pigeons at whose base the Huyskens- Van Riels are as strong as cement !!

Article 2

Huyskens-Van Riel, Ekeren-Donk


Cois Huyskens and Jef Van Riel established their lofts in the spacious garden of Frank Huyskens, in the Kapelse Steenweg in Ekeren-Donk. From 1945, up to and including 1956, they practically broke up the Union of Antwerp, with the tremendous successes that they had in the National and the International races! Their lofts were started with pigeons from different lofts, and of different strains. In fact. Huyskens-Van Riel have never set forth a complete history of their birds. They were the owners of a strong team of stock birds, all of whose descendants received a name. For some reason or other,the origin of their birds was kept secret. For many years, Joseph Van Den Bosch of Berlaar-Lier, carried a letter around with him all the time, in which was plainly stated, in black and white, that Huyskens-Van Riel had their foundation from Berlaar!
It is not our purpose here, to repeat old fairy tales, but it is a fact that Huyskens-Van Riel's famous stock birds and racers descended from crossings of different strains. One was the "Oude Bleke van 1951" (Old Light One) of the late Henri Verwimp of Ekere and also the "Blauwe Grijsoog" (The Bleu Grey Eye) of Georges De Jaegher of Melden. On January 13, 1957, and on January 20, 1957, the entire colony of 285 pigeons of Huyskens-Van Riel was sold in Brussels and in Antwerp. One single bird, however, was not sold. By the year 1957, their pigeons were disseminated all over the world. To this very day, fanciers owe their successes to the birds of Huyskens-Van Riel.
We submit a list of some of the foundation pigeons of the Huyskens-Van Riel collection. Many famous basis-pigeons are not included such as "Het Zotteke," "De Jonge Zot," "De Zwarte," "De Grote Yearling," "De Blauwe Kweker," "De Goede Blauwe," "De Slaper," " Donkere," " De Oorlogsblauwe,"...etc...

From R. : Col.Van Damme - çois Huyskens - Jef Van Riel - Leon Petit winners of the Belgian Championship - "De Belgische Duivensport" and "La Colombophilie Belge"

Who was . . . Jef Van Riel?
Jef Van Riel inherited the pigeon fever naturally, from his father, who at the time was a formidable and successful pigeon fancier. The year was 1921 ; at the outset, he was a specialist in the Quiévrain races. Shortly after this, because of the success he showed in these races, in 1936 he was brought outside the radius of the Mariaburg and the Ekeren clubs. As a result, he dicided to measure his strength against the big masters of the Province, who flew against each other regularly in the well-known Union of Antwerp. However, as soon as he showed his prowess there, they closed their boundairies to him. Discouraged by this state of affairs, in the winter of 1937-1938 he disposed of sixty of his pigeons to the De Scheemaker Brothers of Schoten. Some pigeons were also sold to Huyskens of Ekeren, who had already purchased some youngsters from Van Riels's best pairs. The remainder of the birds were consigned to the kitchen.
After a period of time, Van Riel discovered that live without his pigeons was practically impossible; greatly disappointed, he did manage to find some concolation from his friend, çois Huyskens, who assisted him in word and deed. At the suggestion of Huyskens, he bought an entire round of youngsters from Frans Nuyens of Mariaburg, in 1939. That same year, Huyskens himself was corwned with the whole series of exceptionally results. Unfortunately, the start of World War 2 put a temporary end to the proceedings, at this time.

çois Huyskens :
Huyskens, who was in the pigeon gamein 1929, was fortunate enough to be able to hold on to some of his birds during the occupation. Finally, the long-expected liberation came, and the partnership of Huyskens-Van Riel was formed at once. Truly, this was a combination of two master-brains - second to none! Those fanciers who were lucky enough to visit them, saw this at once. Nothing was ever left to chance, and everything was most carefully planned. Their pigeons were of the very best quality, and their worth was conclusively proved, by the results they obtained. The old strain of the Van Riels was bred down from the birds of the great Vincent Mariën, through Van Wetteren of Antwerp; some were bred from the birds he obtained fromFierens of Deurne; later on, were added birds of the Nuyens strain, and from this mixture, he evolved his own strain.
What did those pigeons look like?

They were of a medium build, very solid; when handled, one discovered that they were well-muscled birds, with no fat or heaviness. In proportion to the body, the wings were never too long. The eyes were shining, and appeared to be varnished! The keels were perfect - pigeons with weak keels were not tolerated. In a word, they had all of the qualities required of a really highclass bird. All loft installments were perfect, and we can truthfully say that we have never seen better. Ventilation was perfect, with absolutely no drafts, because all lofts were provided with push-up windows, all facing the East. During the daytime, and in good weather, these were left open, so that the birds always had plenty of fresh air.

The famous team of Huyskens-Van Riel pigeons who won top prizes from Limoges, Libourne and Barcelona.