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.
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