For Hamilton, Ontario native Toller Cranston, skating was always more than just a sport. Both an internationally-renowned athlete and visual artist, Cranston saw the ice as another medium to express his creative genius.
Widely acclaimed as the most influential figure skater of the 20th century, Toller Cranston revolutionized men's figure skating. Introducing artistry and freedom of movement to performance on ice, he took figure skating to new heights and in the process broke new ground for generations of male skaters.
His is a life time of remarkable achievements: Olympic medallist, Member of the Order of Canada, and three-time world free-skating champion; Canadian Athlete of the Year, internationally-known painter and illustrator; author, designer, and choreographer; coach, commentator, and star of award-winning television specials and films.
Six-time Canadian national figure skating champion from 1971-1976, Cranston earned a bronze medal at the 1974 World's in Munich, and won Olympic bronze at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck. In 1971, he placed second in the ultimate North American Championships, and in 1973 and 1975 won the newly-created Skate Canada competition. In 1974, he was chosen as the Sports Federation Athlete of the Year.
After turning professional at age 27, Cranston continued to thrill audiences for more than 20 years with breathtaking performances in every major ice show around the world.
Cranston was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame (1976), Canada's Sports Hall of Fame (1977), and the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame (1997). In 1995, he received a Special Olympic Order from the Canadian Olympic Association.
Follwing his retirement in 1997, Cranston shifted his focus to his second career as a painter. As an artist, he was highly respected by his peers and his work has been exhibited in prestigious galleries around the world.
Truly the "skater with the painter's eye," his skating and art were always interconnected, with one passion feeding the other. His painting over the years often funded his skating and many of his paintings deal with skating themes. His paintings - like his skating - are vibrant, bold, and dramatic.
Cranston split his time between his home in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico and his loft in Toronto, where he painted canvases for sale at his Toronto art gallery.
On January 24, 2015, Cranston passed away at his home in Mexico.