Jack Galvin

Canadian Masters Pioneer and Leader

Born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1930, Jack, his two brothers (Dennis and Brian) and sister (Patricia) were raised in Wanganui, some 200 km to the north-west. He established himself as an all-round athlete winning many swimming events from 100 yards to a mile, with a number of swims in the river that passes through the city of Wanganui. His brother Dennis often placed second to Jack in these races.

The photo above of Jack was taken at the 2005 St Marys 5 km Masters swimming championships where Jack set a new record in the 75-77 age-group. Both of the adjacent logos were designed by Jack: the one on the left being the logo adapted by Masters Swimming Ontario, and the one on the right being the logo for the Masters club he pioneered - North York Gators (North York, Ontario, Canada).

The following obituary from the Toronto Globe and Mail provides an excellent summary of Jack's background and many talents as an artist, musician, and athlete.

Retired, Jack Galvin, Design Artist, founding president of North York Masters Aquatic Club, past-president of Gwendolyn Park Tennis Club, painter, sculptor, Kiwi extraordinaire! Peacefully, surrounded by his loving family and with his beautiful wife at his side, on Friday, August 31st, 2007 at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, in his 77th year. Beloved husband of Lyla for over 53 years. Loving and very devoted father/father-in-law to Douglas (Judie), Russell (Rebecca Poon) and Tracy (David Hynes). Cherished and adoring 'Poppa' of Kristy, Kim, Sadie and Frances. Dear brother to Dennis of New Zealand, Brian of Australia and Pattie (Fred McMillan) of New Zealand. Lovingly remembered by his niece Vicki Meyer of New Zealand, as well as by many other extended family and so very many dear friends. Jack was born in Wellington, New Zealand and raised in nearby Wanganui where he developed his love of swimming and all sports. Losing his mother at a young age, Jack learned to be self-sufficient and began his lifelong skill of self-education. Leaving NZ in 1952, Jack met his bride-to-be, Lyla, onboard ship enroute to travel Europe. Married in London, England in 1953, they stopped in Canada on the way back to NZ and stayed for good. After leading the design effort for the 'Indians of Canada' pavilion at Expo 67, Jack successfully ran his own design business for many years. In 1969 Jack designed and built his family home in an idyllic valley of the west Don River. Jack's love of life was expressed in his vibrant paintings, woodcarvings, furniture, and other creations, as well as in his penchant for costume parties, singsongs around the piano or campfire, card nights, doing the haka, and midnight tobogganing. Musically gifted, he could play most instruments he picked up. His enthusiasm, hospitality and good humour were legendary among his many friends and he was always the first to volunteer, whether for a new adventure or to lend a helping hand. Jack was a lifelong good steward of the earth and a regular blood donor. After retirement, Jack and Lyla did not slow down. They traveled, continued tennis and competitive swimming, and swam regular mornings at the Frost pool. Jack took up downhill skiing at age 65 and spent many wonderful days flying down the slopes - finally getting a helmet at 74! Jack never lost the spark of youth or the twinkle in his eye. He lovingly cared for his beloved Lyla until his last day. Those who knew him, will remember him always.

Over 200 people attended the Memorial Service which was held for Jack in North York on September 29, 2007. Many of Jack's creations (wood carvings, paintings, and other models) were on display, along with a multitude of digital imagery covering his life from New Zealand to Canada. Throughout all of these images and the memories recalled by his friends, Jack's zest for life was foremost, with particularly strong feelings being expressed by his children and grandchildren.

The memorial service was particularly stimulating with musical presentations that ranged from Stan Roger's Barrett's Privateers to a poignant Teach Your Children Well by Crosby, Stills and Nash. The service started with the New Zealand All Blacks rugby-football Maori-chant the "Haka" that Jack used to love to perform, along with the facial expressions that are an essential part of the presentation. The service started and finished with rousing Maori songs - a wonderful reflection on the achievements of Jack and his influence on, and contributions to, the lives of so many people.

In the early 1980s, I had the honour of staying with Jack and Lyla at the house he built in the valley of the Don River and I've always enjoyed meeting with him since that time; however, I so sorry that I failed to learn of so many of his talents until after his passing. Thank you Jack for your contributions to swimming and the examples you set for all of us in dealing with our families and fellow men. Your spirit and art WILL live on.

A poetic tribute to Jack is attached and was stimulated by the song Coober Pedy by Australian balladeer John Williamson.

The extent of Jack's artistic talents, in general, were little known by his swimming colleagues, but are well-reflected on his web site Jack Galvin. After viewing these images, and knowing of Jack's Kiwi-interests in Maori traditions, it comes as no surprise that Jack led the design effort, so effectively, for the 'Indians of Canada' pavilion at Expo 67. The 1965 painting of "Adrift Alone" provides a source for much thought. His 1964 painting "The Jockey" (seen below) is also an interesting reflection of his boyhood in Wanganui, where the race track can still be seen as a dominant feature of the city when viewed by Google Earth. I particularly love the way Jack has introduced what looks like the owner into the background shadows. The location of the 1966 representation of his family is immediately apparent by the characteristic railings of the Ontario side of Niagara Falls.

Thanks Jack for your contributions to Masters swimming, your friendship, and for your art which will live on.

I look forward to adding further photos of Jack as I receive them.

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Created: 29th September 2007
Last Updated: 9th January 2009