Wow – what a night! The launch of the Toller Cranston Memorial Fund took place at the Art Gallery of Ontario on June 25, 2015 and, like him or hate him, Toller Cranston was still the kind of man who could draw a crowd.

The people who came to pay tribute to the prolific artist who changed the face of men’s figure skating could not have been a more diverse group. From family to childhood friends to devoted staff to accomplished athletes to fans to diplomats to media darlings; everyone was there.

If you are someone who is unfamiliar with Toller Cranston, Faith Fuller posted the following video:

The following Toller quote sums up a part of how this extraordinary and complex man saw the world:

“To be a genuine individualist requires a great deal of strength and courage. It is never easy to chart new territory, to cross new frontiers, or to introduce subtle shadings to an established color.”   -Toller Cranston.

Minister Bal Gosal at Toller Fund launch




The room was buzzing with groups of people sharing their own memories of Toller against the spectacular backdrop of Toller paintings loaned by collectors for this momentous occasion.



Isabelle, Shae-Lynn and Bohden Turok




What struck me, during the brief conversation that I had with Toller’s young nine year old cousin Isabelle (pictured here with Shae-Lynn Bourne), was that we were all there to remember Toller and how special he was.




It is as simple as that. Toller’s legendary coach Ellen Burka, had her own memories that she shared:

Moving forward the important thing to remember is that Toller’s legacy will live on with the help of the fund that has his name. The goal of the fund is to benefit young people who show a dual artistic ability: on and off the ice.

Ellen Burka and Phillippa Baran





One of the driving forces behind this fund is Toller’s sister, Phillippa Cranston Baran. Phillippa told me that the purpose of this fund  extends beyond the boards of any rink: “In all of the tributes that have come in for Toller, what makes me the most proud is when I hear someone say: ‘Toller gave me the confidence and courage to believe in myself and to push farther and reach higher.’ It is these values that I think can be cultivated with the help of this fund.”




Toller Cranston Memorial Fund – donation page

An exquisite evening to honour an exceptional man. I think Toller would not only have approved, he would have attended.



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