A Jackes Avenue Juggler: The Jack Eastwood Story

Maude 'Jim' Smith and Jack Eastwood

John Coulter 'Jack' Eastwood was born March 7, 1908 in Toronto, Ontario. He was the eldest of John and Florence (Coulter) Eastwood's three sons and was raised wanting for little in a devout Presbyterian household on Lynwood Avenue in South Hill. His father was a successful salvage broker.

Clipping from "The College Times", Courtesy Jill Spellman, Archivist, Upper Canada College

Jack started skating as a young boy with neighbours that grew up to be skating legends. In 1944, Eleanor O'Meara recalled, "The Eastwood's (Jack's family) were next door neighbors of ours in town, and when I didn't even know what a figure skate was, I can remember Mommy calling me to look out our kitchen window which faced the Eastwood's back garden. There were Jack and Bud Wilson skating on the rink Eastwoods' yard and doing all sorts of things that to me were just sensational. I guess that was my first inspiration. It was certainly the first time I had ever seen figure skating, and now, as I think back, their efforts must have been somewhat frustrated by a small outdoor rink."

Left: Bud Wilson, Maude and Cecil Smith and Jack Eastwood. Photo courtesy "Skating Through The Years". Right: Carnival group in Buffalo, New York.

As a teenager, Jack and his brothers Frank and Joseph were educated at Upper Canada College. While at the school, Jack played on the preparatory rugby team and was described as "a valuable member of the line" but his prowess on the ice at the Toronto Skating Club drew him far more attention. It's interesting to note that Montgomery 'Bud' Wilson and Stewart Reburn both attended Upper Canada College at the same time as Jack and went on to skate fours with him. In fact, Jack's first big success competitively was a win in the fours event at the 1926 Canadian Championships, and his partners were Bud, Cecil and Maude Smith.

Jack Eastwood, Cecil and Maude Smith and Bud Wilson in 1927

The following year, the 'Toronto four' (as they were known) repeated their win at the Canadian Championships and Jack handily finished third behind Melville Rogers and Bud in the senior men's event. That June, he graduated from Upper Canada College.

Competitors and judges at the 1927 Canadian Championships. Back: Miss Morrissey, Dorothy Benson, Margot Barclay, John Machado, Elizabeth (Blair) Machado, Cecil MacDougall, Mr. Sharp, Norman Mackie Scott, Evelyn Darling, Constance Wilson, Jack Eastwood, Maude Smith, Bud Wilson. Front: Kathleen Lopdell, Paul Belcourt, Frances Claudet, Jack Hose, Henry Cartwright, Isobel Blyth, Melville Rogers, Marion McDougall, Chauncey Bangs. Photo courtesy "Skating Through The Years".

The next month at the age of nineteen, Jack married Yolande Audrey Gooderham, the daughter of Norman Gooderham, a successful yachtsman who was related to U.S. President Harry Truman's Secretary Of State Dean Gooderham Acheson.

Jack Eastwood, Maude 'Jim' Smith, Cecil Smith and Stewart Reburn. Photo courtesy City Of Toronto Archives.

At six feet tall with brown hair and blue eyes, Jack was a striking figure on the ice who excelled in multiple disciplines. From 1926 to 1937, he amassed no less than fourteen medals in the Canadian Championships in singles, pairs, fours and the Tenstep. He competed at the North American Championships in 1927, 1931, 1933 and 1937, his best finish being a silver medal in the pairs event in 1933 with his first partner Maude Smith.

Jack Eastwood, Maude 'Jim' Smith, Cecil Smith and Stewart Reburn. Photo courtesy City Of Toronto Archives.

At the age of nineteen in 1928, Jack travelled to St. Moritz, Switzerland and represented Canada in the pairs event at the Winter Olympic Games and in 1930 and 1932, competed at the World Championships in New York City and Montreal. His many pairs and fours partners included Veronica Clarke, Margaret Leslie, Osborne Colson and Mary Jane Halsted.

Stewart Reburn, Maude 'Jim' Smith, Cecil Smith and Jack Eastwood. Photo courtesy City Of Toronto Archives.

After finishing fifth in the pairs event with Mary Jane Halsted at the 1937 North American Championships in Boston, Jack decided to draw an end to his long and rather illustrious competitive career at the age of twenty eight. He turned professional and took up residence on Jackes Avenue.
He taught during much of World War II at the Buffalo Skating Club in New York with Charlotte Walther. Continuing in the tradition of one his own coaches, Gustave Lussi, he worked diligently to keep the Buffalo club's tradition of lavish skating carnivals alive during wartime. One of his most successful efforts was the club's Eleventh Annual Carnival-On-Ice on March 28 and 29, 1941, a benefit for the Buffalo and Erie County Chapter of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. The two-day affair drew in massive crowds and featured a cast of over two hundred and seventy including Norah McCarthy, Edi Scholdan... and his old friend Bud Wilson.

Veronica Clarke and Jack Eastwood starring in a carnival at the Toronto Cricket, Skating And Curling Club

After the War, Jack devoted his time to judging and raising his four children. He passed away on March 22, 1995 at his home in Toronto at the age of eighty seven. Though he never performed triple or even double Axels, his longevity as a competitive skater was certainly remarkable. It was a different time and Jack's partner Maude Smith explained it best when quoted in "The Globe And Mail" on October 9, 1986: "We were much more graceful in our time. We didn't have any of that jumping or herky-jerky stuff. You have to be an acrobat now to be a skater." An acrobat he wasn't, but in terms of succeeding in multiple disciplines Jack Eastwood was a remarkable juggler.

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