#29: Richard "Dick" Loiselle

Written by Ben Parker-Jones

Richard “Dick” Theodore Loiselle was born in Manchester, NH on March 9, 1938 to Pauline Descheneau and Theodore A. Loiselle. 

In his early years, Dick served for the US Marines and played minor league baseball for the Cedar Rapids Braves. He then moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia where he took up a coaching position with the Saint Mary’s University (SMU) football team.

While working at SMU, Dick was introduced to the growing sport of Wheelchair Basketball, and subsequently, became involved with the Halifax Flying Wheels, a local wheelchair basketball team. He would go on to coach the team, which then quickly expanded to him coaching at the Canadian team level for national and international competitions.

In the years that followed, Dick devoted his skills to organizing sporting events for people with a disability, which eventually led to him being hired as the Executive Director of the Organizing Committee for the 1976 Toronto Olympiad. This nine-day event, which featured more than 1,500 athletes from 40 countries, had a massive impact on sports in Canada and is widely regarded as a catalyst for change within the Olympic movement.

Following the Toronto Olympiad, Dick continued to help shape the future of sport in Canada. In 1977, he moved to Ottawa to work for the Canadian Federation of Sport Organizations for the Disabled (CFSOD) as Executive Director at the National Sports Center and help with technical integration of sports programs and rules for people with disabilities.

In 1979, Dick brought back a sled from Europe, given to him by Rolf Johansson, a Paralympic gold medalist in wheelchair track and field and one of the inventors of sledge hockey. It was given with the understanding that the Paraplegic Association of Canada would initiate a program for sledge hockey. Despite the PAC declining the initial proposal, sledge hockey would eventually come to Canada due to the hard work of Jean Lane. 

Dick then moved back to Halifax in 1981, to become Executive Director of the Pan American Wheelchair Games. He would also  serve on three wheelchair sports governing bodies: the Stoke Mandeville Games Federation, the International Sports Organization for the Disabled, and the Pan American Wheelchair Games Federation.

For his commitment and dedication to wheelchair sport, Dick was recognized and lauded nationally and internationally. He was the proud recipient of many awards, among them the King Clancy Award, The Rick Hansen Award and the Stoke Mandeville Games Federation Special Achievement Award.

Dick would remain active in sport until his untimely passing on November 1, 2010.

He will be remembered for not only having touched the lives of countless individuals, but for also having been a proud husband, father, friend, athlete, coach, counsellor and mentor.