Leaside remembers figure skating club founder

Dr. Sidney Soanes played a big role in the sport in the neighbourhood, Toronto

REMEMBERING A LEADER: Figure skating great, Donald Jackson, shakes the hand of Sidney Soanes on the day of his election to the Leaside Sports Hall of Fame.

The Leaside Memorial Gardens Arena and the Leaside Skating Club are mourning the loss of a builder and mentor.

Dr. Sidney Soanes, the man who started the Leaside Skating Club in 1952, the same year the Leaside Gardens opened, died Feb. 21.

Soanes skated as a child and became a mentor at the age of 18 before going on to get his PhD in physics. He also served as an ISU judge, overseeing more than 12,000 tests and 100 competitions He was inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame in 1992, and more recently the Leaside Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.

Board chair Kathleen Mackenzie said Soanes was responsible for building the figure skating community in Leaside, as well as in Toronto. He called Airdrie Road home for years before moving to Nobleton, Ont. In King Township. He was also neighbours with Dr. Tom Pashby.

“He was a founding member of one of the three major user groups. It was obviously one of the first clubs in Toronto,” she said. “He helped to create what we know now as a skating club. He set it up according to Skate Canada.”

Soanes was inducted into the Leaside Sports Hall of Fame in 2014 due to his commitment to the community. Joining him that year were hockey player Christine Pellerin, Toronto Argonaut Joe Krol, and former NHLer Jack Caffery.

“He set up the club. He incorporated it. He ensured that it got off to a good start,” Mackenzie said.

His biggest achievement, however, may have been writing Ice Dancing — A Manual for Judges and Skaters, which has led to multiple medals performances at the Olympics, including Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s recent gold. He also spearheaded the updates to judging exams, testing techniques, and reporting. He was awarded a Centennial Medal in 1967, the Ontario Sports Achievement in 1972 and a Canadian Figure Skating Association Award of Excellence in 1980.

He is survived by wife Patricia, who was also an international judge of figure skating.

At Soanes’ behest, there was no funeral. Donations can be given in his name to Sunnybrook Hospital Family Health Team at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

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