Rubenstein, Louis

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RUBENSTEIN, LOUIS (1861–1931), Canadian ice-skating champion, community activist and municipal politician. Rubenstein was born in Montreal in 1861. Widely regarded the father of figure skating in North America, at various times between 1882 and 1891 he was figure skating champion of Canada, the United States, North America and the world. Rubenstein won his first title, the Montreal Championship, in 1878. In 1885 he captured the North American title and defended it successfully for the next four years. In 1890 Rubenstein also won at the world figure skating championships in St. Petersburg, Russia, the first North American figure skater to compete abroad. The championships in St. Petersburg proved to be very problematic for Rubenstein. Due to widespread Russian antisemitism of the day, the Canadian Jewish skater expected he would be unwelcome to compete and came forearmed with a letter of introduction from Canada's governor-general Lord Stanley. In spite of police harassment, Rubenstein was allowed to remain in Russia for the competition, and his performance was so outstanding that not even obviously biased judging could deny him the gold medal.

In 1891, at the top of his career, Rubenstein retired from skating. He remained, however, active in the sports world. He founded the Canadian Figure Skating Association with the objective of standardizing judging in skating competitions. He also served as president of several different Canadian sports organizations including bowling, lifesaving, skating, tobogganing, bicycling and curling.

Rubenstein was also active in the larger community. While active in his family's silver plating business, he was elected a Montreal alderman, a position he held for 17 years until his death. For many years he was also president of the Montreal ymha. In 1981 Rubenstein joined Fanny Rosenfeld as the first Canadians inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Israel and in 2004 Rubenstein became the subject of a film produced by the National Film Board of Canada.

[Avi Hyman and

Brenda Cappe (2nd ed.)]