Canoe Kayak Canada and the paddling community lost a builder, athlete, coach, and good friend last week, when Adrian Taylor passed away after a long illness. Adrian started as a sprint paddler at the Mohawk Canoe Club in the early 1960’s and was one of the first members of the Burloak Canoe Club. In 1962, Adrian was a member of the Bantam C-4 crew that won Mohawk’s first national championship race.
Adrian competed as a canoe paddler for many years, winning national championship medals in junior and senior C-1, a bronze medal in C-1 at the 1972 North American championships, and medalling in master’s men C-1 at the CKC national championships each year from 1996 until 2000. After achieving “blackwash” status (i.e. 2nd in the CKC junior C-4 John W. Black trophy race) in 1969 with a Mohawk crew, Adrian returned 11 years later to win the trophy for Oakville Canoe Club with 3 teammates, also former Mohawk paddlers. The Oakville Canoe Club became the Burloak Canoe Club, one of Canada’s most successful sprint clubs, and Adrian was a colleague and mentor to the many great athletes from the club, including Olympic champions, Larry Cain, and Adam van Koeverden.
According to Larry, “Adrian did just about everything at the club for a span of about 30 years, from coaching kids to masters and sitting on the board. However, I will most remember him hammering up the river in C1, covered in sweat, then turning and joining in our workouts. The guy never stopped.”
A versatile paddler, Adrian also medalled at the national championships in K-2 in the mid 1970’s. Along with Jim Farintosh, his long-time C-2 partner, Adrian then focused his paddling on dragon boat, winning the senior men’s world championship at the IDBF world championships in Philadelphia in 2001, and many subsequent world championship medals as both a paddler and a coach. His dragon boat teammates often wondered what the acronym “IALS” meant on the shirts he designed for the crew… Adrian would grin and reply that it referred to paddling and stood for “It’s a life sentence”.
Adrian was the commodore of the Burloak Canoe Club and a passionate advocate for paddling, and particularly women in canoe. Adrian coached the Canadian senior women’s dragon boat team to the world championships in Sydney, Australia in 2007. At the Burloak Canoe Club, Adrian convinced Sheila Kuyper that she could excel in canoe, culminating in Sheila’s success and leadership as an athlete and women’s canoe advocate, which directly led to the upcoming inclusion of women’s canoe in the Tokyo Olympics:
“Adrian was one of the first to recognize my potential as a canoe paddler. He invited me to paddle mixed C-2 with him, and the reason I started paddling C-1 was so that I wouldn’t embarrass myself in C-2 with him!”
Adrian was predeceased by his wife Yvonne, the mother of his sons, Greg and Jamie, of whom he was always so proud. Adrian is survived by his loving wife Catherine, his sister Pamela, his sons, and his three grandchildren, Koko, Kai, and Max. His many friends in the paddling community will remember him fondly and with great respect for his contributions and his shared love of our sport.