Toller Cranston - Artist Photo

Toller Cranston

Artist Summary

Toller Shalitoe Montague Cranston, (April 20, 1949 – January 24, 2015) was a widely acclaimed Canadian figure skater and lifetime painter, who always considered himself an artist first and a skater second.

Full Biography

Toller Shalitoe Montague Cranston, CM (April 20, 1949 – January 24, 2015) was a Canadian figure skater and painter.

Widely acclaimed as the most influential skater in the 20th century, who revolutionized men’s figure-skating, he was the 1971-1976 Canadian National Champion, won the World Bronze Medal in 1974, and the Olympic Bronze Medal in 1976. Cranston was born in Hamilton and grew up in Kirkland Lake.

At the age of 11, his family moved to Montreal. From the time he was a teenager, Toller began visiting major museums around the world — a journey made easier by the touring that became an integral part of his skating life. After high school, Cranston attended the École des beaux-arts de Montréal. By his third year, he became restless with his studies. One of his teachers suggested that there was nothing more he could learn at the school, so Cranston set out to establish himself as a professional artist. After leaving the École des beaux-arts, Cranston became a self-supporting artist, even making enough money to cover his skating expenses. He held his first exhibition at his coach, Ellen Burka’s home in the spring of 1969. In November 1971, he held another successful one-man show in Toronto. Thereafter, he continued to have gallery and museum displays, with over 250 exhibitions around the world. He continued to paint even after his official retirement. Cranston took up residence in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where he focused mainly on his painting. Cranston’s work often incorporated themes related to skating. He referred to the style of his work as “mystic symbolism.”

Sadly, Cranston passed away on January 24th, 2015, in his home in San Miguel de Allende, at the age of 65.

Artist’s Statement

“My paintings are exactly like my skating. Very me, good or bad. Very decorative, good or bad. And very unusual, good or bad. I am a painter first and a skater second.”  Toller Cranston