Hall of Famer
Inducted in 1955
Canadian figure skating champion
Canadian and U.S. figure skating champion
World figure skating champion
U.S. figure skating champion (co-winner)
Louis Rubenstein grew up in Montreal in an era when the city was the centre of organized sport in Canada. In the late-19th century, the popularity of Montreal's winter carnivals heightened the awareness of many different ice sports. Rubenstein took to figure (or "fancy") skating and in 1878, at age 17, won the Montreal championship. He excelled in the precise figures, which needed to be traced and retraced, that characterized the sport at the time. He also came from a middle-class Montreal family whose successful manufacturing business allowed him the time and resources to train and travel to competitions. In 1883, he won the Canadian figure skating championship at Montreal's Victoria Rink and retained the title for seven years. During this time he became well known outside Montreal for his skating prowess and in 1884 and 1885 was invited to give exhibitions and compete throughout eastern Canada. He ventured further afield and won the U.S. figure skating championship in 1888 and 1889. In 1889, the St. Petersburg Skating Club announced that it would hold a world championship event in 1890 to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Rubenstein was chosen by the Amateur Skating Association of Canada, which was based in Montreal, to be Canada's representative at the event. In January 1890, he left for New York and his cross-Atlantic berth and embarked on a two-and-a-half month journey. In Russia, he discovered that he would be skating on harder outdoor ice than he was accustomed to in Montreal and that he would be required to perform acrobatics in addition to the precise figures in which he specialized. But perhaps the greatest obstacle Rubenstein faced was the anti-Semitism of Russia's Tsarist regime. His stay in St. Petersburg was interrupted by numerous visits to the police, and only through the intervention of the British ambassador was Rubenstein allowed to stay and compete. It was a good thing he did. He won two of the three phases of the competition and returned to Canada as the world figure skating champion. Rubenstein finished in a first-place tie at the U.S. figure skating championships in 1891 before retiring from competition in 1892. He was active in other sports, including cycling, bowling, billiards, and curling, and after his competitive career was over, Rubenstein embarked on a nearly 40-year career in sport administration. In 1895, he was elected president of the Canadian Bowling Association and named honourary secretary of the Amateur Skating Association of Canada. It was in the latter capacity that he organized the world speed skating championships in Montreal in 1897. In 1899 he was named president of the Canadian Wheelman's Association, a title he held for 18 years, and organized the 1899 World Bicycle Meet in Montreal. Rubenstein remained a fixture in Montreal's public affairs throughout his life, assuming the presidency of both the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association and the Young Man's Hebrew Association, as well as serving Montreal's St. Louis ward as an alderman.