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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

DR. DESMOND BURKE

Inducted in 1972

Member Details

Date of Birth: December 5, 1904
Place of Birth: Ottawa, Ontario
Date of Passing: April 11, 1973
Sport: Shooting - Rifle
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1924

Became the youngest ever to win the King's Prize at Bisley

1924, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1953

King's Hundred, 1st place

1928, 1932

Grand Aggregate Gold Cross

1931

Grand Aggregate Silver Cross

Honoured Member DR. DESMOND BURKE
Inspire

Story

Despite a childhood illness that prevented him from competing in strenuous activities, Desmond Burke became one of the nation's most decorated athletes. As a teenager, he turned his talents toward rifle shooting, a sport that requires control and precision rather than physical strength, and he soon became one of the finest marksmen of the 1920s and '30s. Burke honed his craft while a student at Ottawa's Lisgar Collegiate Institute. He showed such promise that his teachers gave him access to the school's shooting facilities and entrusted him with training its cadet corps. Burke was selected to the Canadian Bisley team before he was out of high school and, in 1924, became the youngest winner of the coveted King's Prize. This marked the first of many victories for the Burke who, over the course of his life, amassed more prizes and awards than any other Canadian marksman. He qualified for the Canadian Bisley team 22 times and was able to accept 12 times. He was runner up for the King's Prize three times, won the King's Hundred seven times, and twice won the King's Bronze First Stage. Among his many other triumphs, Burke won the Grand Aggregate Gold Cross in 1928 and 1932 as well as the Silver Cross in 1931. In total, the champion marksman collected fourteen victories and eleven second-place finishes. Burke accomplished these many feats while studying engineering and medicine at Queen's University in Kingston. He graduated as a medical doctor in 1932 and soon made a name for himself as a radiologist. He was a faculty member at the University of Toronto and also served as chief radiologist at the Oakville Hospital and the Sunnybrook Hospital. Burke was also a fine writer and an innovative instructor. His passion for his sport and his desire to pass along his knowledge led him to publish A Practical Rifleman's Guide, in 1932, and Canadian Bisley Shooting: An Art and Science, in 1970. In the case of the latter, he applied his medical knowledge to the art of shooting, describing the physiological aspects of the sport and advising the best ways to achieve physical and mental relaxation in competition. Burke also spent five years serving overseas with the Canadian army medical corps. He always regretted that the sport he loved so dearly should be so closely associated with war. He hoped that the day would come when shooting would be "never for war, never to cause suffering to wildlife, but only for sport."


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