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James Denison MOSSMAN
1921 - 2020
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JAMES DENISON MOSSMAN June 2, 1921 - November 1, 2020 Born in the Beach neighbourhood of Toronto to James Denison Sr. and Ella Wilse, Jim and brother, Peter (1936, d.2019), attended Balmy Beach Public School and Malvern Collegiate. Jim joined the Balmy Beach Canoe Club (BBCC) in 1935 and found the perfect outlet for his highly competitive spirit. He was a promising junior paddler, winner of a silver medal at the 1941 Canadian Canoe Association (CCA) - now Canoe/Kayak Canada - national championships. He and tandem partner, Norm Lane, had their sights set on the 1944 Olympics, until WWII intervened. Jim enlisted in the RCAF in 1942. Informed that his legs were too short to be a pilot, Jim joined the 429 "The Bisons" Bomber Squadron as a 'bomb aimer.' He was the last surviving member of a 7-man crew that flew 33 missions over Europe and Scandinavia, and whose bonds lasted a lifetime. A posting to the Pacific as an Air Traffic Controller was imminent when WWII ended. Jim returned home, went to work for Imperial Oil and married Wilma Reid in 1946. Susan was born in 1949 and Gary in 1953. Jim also returned to the BBCC, this time to coach. As Head Coach (1947-1972) and Commodore (1954-1957), Jim's hard working and innovative leadership led the BBCC to 2 CCA National Championships (1951,1955) and 25 years of dominance in races for War Canoes - 30 foot canoes powered by 14 paddlers, driven by a coxswain (Jim) in the back. From 1947-1967 Jim's crews finished first 16 times and in the top 3, 35 times, in 40 senior races. His winning 1962 junior crew set a record time that stood for 29 years. Jim was named Head Coach for Canada's Sprint Canoe/Kayak Team at the1960 Olympics in Rome. He held the same post in Tokyo in 1964 as well as in Mexico City in 1968. In 1972, Jim spent the summer in Toronto preparing the Canoe/Kayak team for the Olympics in Munich, before travelling as an assistant coach/boatswain. Over those 12 years, Jim led numerous Canadian canoe/kayak teams to international competitions. He also served on the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) Sports Committee and on the Simpson-Sears Sports Advisory Council, along with Bobby Orr and Sir Edmund Hilary. By the time of the Munich Olympics, Jim had taken a leave of absence from Imperial Oil and been named the first Technical Director of the CCA - one of the first salaried sports bureaucrats in Ottawa. He was a founding Director of the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC) and it is Jim Mossman's signature that is on the original charter beside that of Minister of Amateur Sport John Munro. As technical Director, Jim established CCA's first winter training camp in Florida and brought international canoe/kayak coaches to Canada. Both measures were instrumental in helping John Wood win a Silver Medal in C1 at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, one of only 3 medals won by Canada. Jim returned to Toronto and Imperial Oil after the Montreal Olympics. Racquetball at the Adelaide Club was his new competitive outlet and Jim was extremely proud of his many trophies, especially when he defeated a much younger opponent. However, Jim never left canoeing. He organized the Canoe/Kayak events for the first World Masters Games (Toronto 1984), coordinated special events for the World Canoe/Kayak Championships (Montreal 1986), and could be still be found in the back of a war canoe at the Canadian Masters Canoe/Kayak Championships in 1996. Recipient of the Queen Elizabeth 25th Anniversary Medal, the Canada 125th Anniversary Medal, and the first recipient of Canoe/Kayak Canada's highest honour, the R. Edward Gilbert Award, Jim lived out his final years in the Veterans Wing at Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital, where Brit, Dr. Hung and all of the wonderful staff made his last years happy ones. Despite decreased capacity, Jim was still making plans for his 100th Birthday in June. Even as he weakened, he asked Susan to get his WWII medals out so he would be ready for Remembrance Day. Ever the competitor, Jim Mossman was still tilting against 'the dying of the light.' Jim is survived by Susan (sp. Steven Rust), Gary (sp. Vera Litynsky) and Wilma, as well as grandchildren Aleksandr, Aglaia and Ariel. His brother Peter died in 2019. Donations made to the Jim Mossman Fund at the Coaching Association of Canada- – will be used to develop and mentor young coaches in Canada. Coaching Association of Canada. A Celebration of Life will be held at the BBCC on June 2, 2021, Jim's 100th birthday.
Published in The Globe and Mail from Nov. 7 to Nov. 11, 2020.
Celebration of Life
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November 11, 2020
Though I never had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Mossman, as a current member of 429 Sqn., I will remember him.
November 9, 2020
The nicest man I've had the honour to meet and call my friend.
Lise Seguin
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