Born on September 23, 1861, in Montreal, Louis Rubenstein was a career sportsman and politician. He was born and raised by middle-class Polish Jews who had escaped Russian rule. Rubenstein’s family later started a successful manufacturing business in Montreal, which allowed him to access the resources and equipment needed for his figure skating training and competitions.
Coached by renowned figure skater, Jackson Haines, Rubenstein represented Canada in 1890 at an unofficial World Figure Skating Championship, in St. Petersburg, Russia, and won the gold medal. Despite his athletic achievement, Rubenstein was subject to rampant antisemitism as organizers tried to ensure he was ineligible to compete and, after he won, attempted to revoke his medal.
Following his competitive career, Rubenstein began a life-long career in sports administration. In 1914, Rubenstein became a key player in the development of the Amateur Skating Association of Canada, now known as Skate Canada. He was named President of the organization from its foundation until 1930.
Rubenstein also served as President of the International Skating Union of America from 1907-09, and President of the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association from 1913-15. He was instrumental in the development of figure skating as he championed numerous efforts to formalize governing bodies for figure skating in the United States and Canada in order to create competitions and tests for skaters.
Considered the “Father of Canadian Figure Skating” for his contributions to the sport, Rubenstein was a true athlete and was also active in curling, bowling and cycling. In 1899, Rubenstein organized the Bicycle Meet in Montreal and served as President of the Canadian Wheelmen’s Association, a title he held for 18 years.
Following his sport career, Rubenstein served as an alderman in Montreal for 17 years.
Louis Rubenstein will forever be remembered as an affluent figure in Canadian sports, most notably figure skating. In 1981, he was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame for his accomplishments and, subsequently, to the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1984. In 2016, Rubenstein was named a National Historic Person.