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Louis Rubenstein (1861-1931)
Louis Rubenstein was a pioneer in the sport of “fancy” or figure skating and by 1883, he had become North America’s most prominent figure skater, winning national and international titles. He helped to develop early Canadian amateur sport as a participant, promoter and administrator. His many and varied achievements place him at the forefront of sports organizations in Canada at the turn of the 20th century.
Louis Rubenstein was born 23 September, 1861 in Montreal. His parents, Max and Leah Rubenstein, were Polish Jews who had immigrated to Canada in 1850. Part of a large, athletic family, Rubenstein took up figure skating as a child and as a teenager won a city-wide championship. By 1883, Rubenstein had become North America’s first famous figure skater, winning Canadian championships from 1883-1889, the North American crown in 1885, and United States titles in 1888, 1889 and 1891. In 1890, he won the gold medal in the first ever World Figure Skating Championships. These unofficial championships (no federation yet existed) were held in St. Petersburg, Russia, where organizers first tried to prevent the Jewish skater from participating and later tried to deny his victories.
In 1887, due to worldwide inconsistencies of judging and rules for figure skating competitions, Rubenstein formed the Amateur Skating Association of Canada, remaining its president until 1930. He also played a role in the organization of the National Amateur Skating Association of the United States. An all-round athlete, Rubenstein contributed significantly to the development in Canada of not only figure skating but other sports such as cycling, curling and bowling.
Rubenstein was also a prominent businessman and municipal politician. He was a partner in Rubenstein Bros., a brass foundry established in 1864. Rubenstein had a lengthy political career, serving as Alderman for Ward 5 (St. Lawrence) from 1914 until his death in 1931. A civic minded individual, he served as a life Governor of the Montréal General Hospital and for twelve years as president of the Young Men’s Hebrew Association of Montreal. When he died, at the age of 70, Rubenstein was described as “widely known and deeply respected,” a “good citizen who figured prominently in business, social, public and sports life for nearly half a century.”
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Title of Image: Louis Rubenstein skating in Montréal, 1893.
Source of the Image: Wikipedia, Is in the public domain.
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