The 1942 Canadian Figure Skating Championships
Mary Rose Thacker
Four teams competed in the junior pairs event that year, which was won by Flaurine Ducharme and Wally Diestelmeyer of the Kitchener-Waterloo Skating Club. In the junior Waltz, Margaret McInnes and Charles Lockwood of Regina, Saskatchewan were victorious but in the junior Tenstep, the temporary partnership of Doreen Dutton of the Glencoe Club and Will Thomas of the Toronto Skating Club edged their way to victory. Thomas also won the junior men's competition, defeating no less than three future Canadian senior men's champions - Diestelmeyer, Norrie Bowden and Nigel Stephens. In a field of ten, the Montreal Winter Club's Cynthia Power won the junior women's title.
Clipping from "The Winnipeg Evening Tribune"
To the delight of the small hometown audience, Evelyn Rogers and George McCollough of Winnipeg won the Tenstep. Six teams competed in the Waltz event, won by Eleanor O'Meara and Sandy McKechnie of Toronto. Back in those days the dances were contested individually with no free dance or overall ice dance title yet conceived on the national level in Canada. Eleanor O'Meara, Virginia Wilson, Donald Gilchrist and Michael Kirby gave a five minute performance and earned the fours title by default. Eleanor O'Meara and Sandy McKechnie were the only senior pairs team entered at the start of the competition, but junior champions Flaurine Ducharme and Wally Diestelmeyer were given the go ahead to 'skate up'. They were, however, unable to translate their junior win to a senior one.
Nova Scotian born Michael Kirby's win in the senior men's event must have been sweet. The sixteen year old St. Michael's College student had moved from Winnipeg to Toronto three years previously. He returned to Winnipeg as the reigning Canadian junior men's champion, competing in the senior ranks for the first time. Kirby outskated his fours teammate Donald Gilchrist to claim his only Canadian senior men's title before turning professional and skating with Sonja Henie.
The senior ladies event in 1942 was won by eighteen year old Mary Rose Thacker, a hometown favourite. In winning her third senior women's title, Thacker outranked a thirteen year old Barbara Ann Scott of Ottawa (who had just lost her father months earlier), her Winnipeg training mate Elizabeth Ann McKellar and Toronto's Billee (Virginia) Wilson. The February 2, 1942 edition of "The Montreal Gazette" noted that "polish and composure, attained by rigorous training and experience, provided Miss Thacker's margin over her youthful opponents. She defended her championship before a packed gallery and appeared as completely at ease as when she was skating seven and eight hours a day at Ottawa, training under the Czech instructor, Otto Gold." Gold, who also worked with Barbara Ann Scott, conceded in "The Ottawa Citizen" on March 6, 1947 that "in this competition, [Scott] skated a magnificent free skating program, which did not seem to get the deserved credit by the judges."
The excitement of Canada's best skaters of the early forties descending on Winnipeg was short-lived. By that October, the Winter Club where the 1942 Canadian Championships was held was purchased by the Royal Canadian Army and the facilities converted into training facilities for soldiers. The 1943 Canadian Championships were cancelled altogether due to the War. For a brief time in Canada, competitive figure skating would have to wait.
Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.