Interwar Canadian Olympic Mysteries

Today on Oldest Olympians, we are going to continue our inquiry from last week into missing dates of death for Canadian Olympians born before 1931. One of the cases was solved during in the interim, leaving us with five individuals who competed exclusively in the interwar period.

(Ralph Adams, pictured second from the left, from the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum)

Ralph Adams – Member of Canada’s athletics delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

Ralph Adams, born July 9, 1907, took part in the 100 metres, 200 metres, and the 4×100 metres events at the 1928 Amsterdam Games, but was unable to reach the podium in any of them. He had much more success at the inaugural 1930 British Empire Games, where he won gold in the 4×110 yards relay. He was a contender for the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, but was not selected for the final team. Research has suggested that he may have died in 1976 and been buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Simcoe, Ontario, but we have been unable to confirm this.

Al Taylor – Bronze medalist for Canada in the coxed eights at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics

A bronze medal mystery, Al Taylor, born in 1911, helped Canada take third in the coxed eights at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, as well as the 1930 British Empire Games. Despite these successes, there is very little information available on Taylor and his career in contemporary sources. One candidate is police constable Albert Taylor of Hamilton, born May 20, 1911, but he has no known connection to rowing. Another candidate, if the year of birth were incorrect, would be an Albert Taylor born c. 1905 who also lived in Hamilton. Neither individual, however, has a date of death known to us.

(Jimmy Bartlett, pictured at the Oshawa Hall of Fame)

Jimmy Bartlett – Competitor for Canada in the marathon at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

England-born Jimmy Bartlett, born December 29, 1907, represented Canada in the marathon at the 1936 Berlin Games, where he placed 15th. He was a top marathoner in the 1930s, but seemed to disappear after World War II. We suspect strongly that he is the James Alfred Bartlett, born May 1, 1908, who died on July 30, 1971 and is buried in Oshawa (link here), but we have been unable to confirm this for certain.

(Charles Matteson, pictured fourth from the left, in the August 6, 1936 edition of The Calgary Herald)

Charles Matteson – Member of Canada’s coxed eights squad at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

We know very little of Charles “Tiny” Matteson, born June 8, 1913, who represented Canada in the coxed eights at the 1936 Berlin Games and was eliminated in the semifinals. Aside from the fact that he was a member of the Leander Boat Club of Hamilton, we have no leads on his later life or when and where he might have died.

Aileen Thomas – Member of Canada’s fencing delegation to the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Aileen Thomas, born June 3, 1907, represented Canada in the women’s individual foil fencing competition at the 1936 Berlin Games, but was eliminated in the first round. We believe that she may have died in 1989 in the Toronto area, where she was from, but we have been unable to confirm this fact with certainty.

Next week we are going to look at the six individuals who competed at the 1948 London Games who are missing dates of death. Only two of these individuals are known to be deceased, leaving four who may still be alive – we hope that you will join us as we delve deeper into this topic!

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