Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Bert Oldershaw 1921 - 2006
Last night my Granbert passed away. Today, I'm just remembering him. He was an athlete, a salesman, a gardener and an artist.
Canadian Olympic Committee
Born in Toronto in 1921, Bert Oldershaw has demonstrated an unparalleled passion for the sport of canoeing that began during a childhood spent paddling around Toronto Island where he lived for 35 years. Oldershaw won national titles in canoe and kayak from 1939 to 1956, and competed in the Olympic Games in 1948, 1952, and 1956. He holds the distinction of being the only Canadian to reach three successive finals in Olympic paddling competitions before retiring from racing at the age of 38.
Oldershaw founded the Mississauga Canoe Club in 1957, a paddling powerhouse that sits along the banks of the Credit River. 'Missy' paddlers have long dominated the Canadian canoe/kayak scene with countless athletes representing Canada in international competitions thanks in large part to Oldershaw's numerous contributions as a coach. In 1976 Oldershaw cemented his dedication to sport by building a training facility at his home, which included an indoor pool, adapted with weights and pulleys to simulate outdoor water conditions, and used by national team members to train.
Oldershaw's community contributions include 12 years as a member of the Board for the COC representing canoeing. He created Canamtur Ltd. to assist in amateur-sport fundraising and development, and in the process raised more than $1.25 million from the private sector. These days Oldershaw is working to restore Native canoe culture, by re-establishing canoe and canoe-building in Six Nations' communities.
Oldershaw's most important legacy in building the sport of canoeing, however, is evidenced through his family. He is the father of five children, Dean, Reed, Scott, Lee, and Lynn - all of whom have competed in canoe competitions, and three of whom have represented Canada at the Olympic Games. Two of his grandsons continue the family sport tradition, and are currently strong hopefuls for Athens 2004. Should this happen, the Oldershaw family will have sent three generations of canoe-kayak athletes to the Olympic Games.