1948 Canadian Olympic Mysteries

Today on Oldest Olympians we are going to move on to part three of our series of missing dates of death for Canadian Olympians born before 1931. Thanks to the thorough research of Connor Mah and Rob Gilmore, one of the cases was solved during in the interim, and we have plenty of details for the remaining five individuals who competed at the 1948 London Games.

(Bill Hamilton, from a photo taken by boxer Fred Daigle)

Bill Hamilton – Member of Canada’s cycling delegation to the 1948 London Olympics

The only person on this list that may not quite have reached his 90th birthday is cyclist Bill Hamilton, born c. 1930. He was a member of the team pursuit, 4000 metres squad that was eliminated in round one of the event at the 1948 London Games. At the 1950 British Empire Games, he was 13th in the time trial and did not finish the road race. Despite the fact that he is a member of the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame, we have been unable to uncover more information about him.

(Dick Townsend, pictured on the right)

Dick Townsend – Member of Canada’s Swallow class crew at the 1948 London Olympics

Born c. 1929, Dick Townsend was a member of the Swallow class crew, along with John Robertson, that finished seventh in that event at the 1948 London Games. A relative youngster at the time of the Olympics, particularly for a sailor of that era, he later made more of a name for himself in the athletic world as a skier. Research undertaken in the city directories of Hamilton, Ontario, where he was from, suggests that he may have died in 1982, but we have been unable to verify this for certain.

(John Stuart, pictured in the August 20, 1948 edition of the Calgary Herald)

John Stuart – Member of Canada’s weightlifting delegation to the 1948 London Olympics

Scotland-born John Stuart, born c. 1920, moved to Canada in 1923 and represented that country in lightweight weightlifting at three major international events. In 1947, he won silver at the World Championships, in 1948 he was fifth at the London Olympics, and in 1950 he was again fifth, this time at the British Empire Games. During the 1940s he worked at an office equipment shipping company in Montreal, but although we know the dates of death for most of his family members, we have been unable to confirm one for John.

(Vivian King, second from left, from a photo taken by boxer Fred Daigle)

Vivian King – Member of Canada’s swimming delegation to the 1948 London Olympics

Although also seen with a birth year of 1931, most sources show that swimmer Vivian King was born April 4, 1930. She was entered into three events at the 1948 London Games, but only competed in two: the 400 metres freestyle and the 4×100 metres freestyle relay, not reaching the final in either. Her achievements at the domestic level, both amateur and professional, led to her to be inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in 1984. The last mention we were able to find of her as alive was in 1990, but as we cannot find mention of her death either, we suspect that she is still alive and retired into private life.

(Diane Foster, pictured on the left, at the Toronto Public Library)

Diane Foster – Bronze medalist in the 4×100 metres relay at the 1948 London Olympics

Diane Foster, born March 3, 1928, is the only individual in this post that we know is deceased. She won a bronze medal in the 4×100 metres relay at the 1948 London Games and was eliminated in the first round of the 200 metres. We know that she was still alive in 1991, but was deceased by 2018, and we suspect that she died in the early 2000s. We have, however, been unable to come up with a precise date, or even a year, for her death.

We still have three more individuals who competed after 1948 left to cover, so we will be wrapping up our series on Canadian Olympic mysteries next week. We hope that you will join us!

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