Toller Cranston (April 20, 1949 - January 24, 2015)
Toller Cranston was widely acclaimed as the most influential figure skater of this century. Born in Hamilton, Ontario on April 20, 1949, his birthday fell between the astrological sign of the sportsmen (Aries) and the artist (Taurus). He was, perhaps as a consequence, something of a modern-day Renaissance man.
Toller began figure skating at the age of seven. As an amateur, and later a professional skater, Toller’s striking and innovative style captured the imagination of skating enthusiasts around the world. Often described as “the skater of the century", Toller’s presence and impact have been compared to that of Nijinsky and Nureyev.
From an early age and continuing throughout his skating career and beyond, Toller’s temperament found another expression in painting, shaped by attendance at L'Ecole des Beaux Arts in Montreal from 1965 to 1967. His development as a painter has led to numerous one-man exhibitions in Europe and North America, and the inclusion of his work in many prestigious collections. One aspect of Toller’s unique view of art was his co-founding of the Canadian School of Mystic Symbolism, and his assembly of Canada’s largest private symbolic painting collection.
Toller's extraordinary duality as athlete and artist prompted a lifetime of remarkable achievements: Olympic medalist; Member of the Order of Canada; three-time world free-skating champion; Canadian Athlete of the Year; internationally-known painter, illustrator, author, designer, choreographer; commentator and star of award-winning television specials and films. These credits are merely the tip of the creative iceberg. As an artist, Mr. Cranston was highly respected by his peers and has exhibited in many prestigious galleries around the world.
Toller's contributions to skating and art have enhanced Canada's prestige internationally. His artistic and athletic vision, strength and dedication are inspirations to all Canadians.