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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

DONALD MCPHERSON

Inducted in 1963

Member Details

Date of Birth: February 20, 1945
Place of Birth: Windsor, Ontario
Date of Passing: November 24, 2001
Sport: Figure skating
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1959

Canadian junior Men's champion

1963

Canadian champion

World Championships, Gold medal - Men's figure skating

1965

Men's world professional figure skating champion

Honoured Member DONALD MCPHERSON
Inspire

Story

Reaching the pinnacle of one's sport at age 18 might seem overwhelming, but for Donald McPherson—the 1963 men's world figure skating champion—it was the culmination of 14 years of hard work. Raised in Stratford, Ontario, McPherson began skating at the Stratford Figure Skating Club at age four. In 1957, he won the Western Ontario novice sectional and was the Western Ontario senior sectional champion in both 1958 and 1959. In the latter year, McPherson captured the Canadian junior men's championship at age14. In 1960, he competed at the senior national level, finishing second behind another Canada's Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Donald Jackson. As a 15-year-old, McPherson went to the 1960 Olympic Games at Squaw Valley, California, and gained valuable international experience. He finished in tenth place and followed with an eighth-place finish at the world championships. McPherson again finished second to Jackson at the Canadian championships in both 1961 and 1962. At the 1962 world championships in Prague, McPherson improved to a fourth-place finish behind the champion, Jackson. Jackson retired following the 1962 world championships and McPherson emerged out of his shadow to take his own place on the world stage. Indeed, 1963 was a charmed year for McPherson. That year, in Edmonton, he won the Canadian senior men's figure skating championship. Vancouver hosted the (now-defunct) North American figure skating championships and McPherson captured the men's singles crown. He then travelled to Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, for the world championships, which were held outdoors on hard ice in extremely cold conditions. Nevertheless, McPherson topped the field in Italy and, having just turned 18 years of age, became the youngest man ever to win the world title. By the end of the 1963 competitive season, McPherson had become the first person ever to win the Canadian, North American, and world figure skating championships in a single season without having previously won any of those titles. McPherson's reign as world champion lasted only three months. He had intended to return to the Winter Olympics in 1964 in Innsbruck, Austria, but he was offered a professional contact. The chance to earn a living and repay those who had sacrificed for his amateur career was too great to pass up. His international competitive career over at 18, McPherson joined "Holiday on Ice" and entertained audiences across Europe and North America for over a decade. In 1965, he won the men's professional world championship. He spent the remainder of his career coaching young skaters and acting as skating director for "Holiday on Ice." His achievements are also recognized with his induction into the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame.


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