Donald McCannell may not have been the biggest name in the speed skating world; his two biggest contributions to the sport were a collaborative effort with his wife Florence in the form of daughters Doreen (McCannell) Botterill and Donna (McCannell) Keating. Doreen represented Canada at the 1964 and ‘68 Winter Olympics while Donna skated at the 1972 Games.
Actually, it was because of his daughters that McCannell first got involved with the sport back in 1958. He spent countless hours at the Crescentwood Community Club, home of the Winnipeg Speed Skating Club (WSSC) doing everything from preparing the ice to shovelling snow.
McCannell went on to serve in every volunteer capacity imaginable with the club from 1958 until his death in 1985 (president, treasurer, meet co-ordinator, timer and fundraiser). He was also instrumental in getting the home of the WSSC moved to Sargent Park when the City of Winnipeg agreed to construct the first Olympic-size speed skating oval in Manitoba. That led to the development of several future Olympians including Susan Auch, for whom the oval at Sargent Park is now named.
On the national speed skating scene, McCannell served on several boards with the Canadian Amateur Speed Skating Association, including its Olympic development committee.
He was head coach of the Winnipeg Speed Skating Club for several years and coached the Manitoba team at the first Canada Winter Games in Quebec City. He also served as coach and manager for several Canadian national teams during the 1960’s.
McCannell was honoured as a Builder of Sport by the Manitoba Sports Federation in 1971 and was inducted into the Canadian Amateur Speed Skating Hall of Fame in 1983.
The WSSC presents the Don McCannell Memorial Award each year to a volunteer who has made an outstanding contribution to the sport.
b. December 11, 1918
d. April 25, 1985