Iconic Canadian Figure Skater and International Artist Toller Cranston Remembered in Toronto

June 25, 2015 (Toronto, Canada) – The Canadian skating community, close friends, family and admirers all joined to celebrate the life of one of Canada’s most iconic and unique sport figures, Toller Cranston.

Well over 300 people attended the June 25th event held at the prestigious Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Two giant screens rolled scenes from Toller’s extraordinary skating career. In addition, the room featured rarely seen paintings that Toller had created over his lifetime.

Toller Cranston Memorial, AGO Toronto 2015

Photo by: Scott Umstattd (See all memorial photos)

Longtime Toller friend and Canadian fashion icon Jeanne Beker noted in her remarks at the podium that Toller had always dreamed of having his art showcased at the AGO, announcing to the cheering crowd “He made it!”.

94-year old Ellen Burka, Toller’s longtime skating coach, attended the event and shared her remarkable first encounter with Toller.

Toller Cranston was the six-time Canadian champion (1971-1976) and 1974 world and 1976 Olympic bronze medallist. Learn more about Toller Cranston.

Attending the Memorial was a star-studded group of former World and Olympic medalists including Dorothy Hamill, JoJo Starbuck and Ken Shelley, Haig Oundjian, Petra Burka, John Rait and Shelley MacLeod.

The Canadian Olympic Foundation launched the “Toller Cranston Memorial Fund” which will assist young skaters to develop their artistic talents and help them infuse expression and creativity into their sport.

The Canadian flag that was flying on the Peace Tower in the nation’s capital on the day that Toller died was preserved for the family courtesy of Ms. Laureen Harper, the wife of the Prime Minister. The flag was presented by the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State for Sport, to a group of young people – nieces, nephews, cousins and friends – who represent the hopes and aspirations of all young Canadians.

Toller passed away earlier this year on January 23rd of a massive heart attack in his home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He was 65 years old.

Toller Cranston Memorial Fund

To make a donation to the Toller Cranston Memorial Fund, visit the Canadian Olympic Foundation website:

Toller Cranston Memorial Fund donation page

Toller Cranston Memorial Fund to be Launched at AGO Event on June 25, 2015


Artist. Skater. Visionary. Genius.
There is only ever one ‘Toller’ in a generation.

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Olympic Foundation, in conjunction with the Cranston family, is announcing the creation of a memorial fund to honour the outstanding figure skating and art accomplishments of Toller Cranston who passed away suddenly at his home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico on January 23, 2015. Cranston was 65 years old.

The six-time Canadian champion (1971-1976), 1974 world and 1976 Olympic bronze medallist is best remembered for his avant-garde figure skating style that transformed perfunctory, albeit athletic, men’s figure skating into a performance art form.

Debbi Wilkes, the 1964 Olympic silver pair medallist and former figure skating analyst and author sums up Cranston’s impact this way: “Toller’s skating was wildly colourful and dramatic, introspective, controversial, daring and bold. He was a game changer, believing that the expression of his inner self was the only way he could perform. He never took on another role in skating – the only one he ever chose was to be Toller – and his courage and vision changed the sport forever.”

The goal of the Toller Cranston Memorial Fund will be to assist young skaters to develop their artistic talents and help them infuse expression and creativity into their sport.The specific details of these initiatives will be announced once they are confirmed at a later date.

For Cranston’s sister, Phillippa Cranston Baran, the purpose of this fund extends beyond the boards of any rink: “In all of the tributes that have come in for Toller, what makes me the most proud is when I hear someone say: ‘Toller gave me the confidence and courage to believe in myself and to push farther and reach higher.’ It is these values that I think can be cultivated with the help of this fund.”

Cranston himself recognized that to be an artist is not an easy path and one that requires support:

“To be a genuine individualist requires a great deal of strength and courage. It is never easy to chart new territory, to cross new frontiers, or to introduce subtle shadings to an established color.” -Toller Cranston.

Toller Cranston Memorial Fund donation page