Written by Walter Dann & Bob Steadward
Walter Dann was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1944 before moving east to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1947. He started playing wheelchair sports in 1968, and it wasn’t long before he represented Canada at an international scale.
He competed in the 1968 Tel Aviv Paralympic Games – the first Paralympics that Canada took part in – followed closely thereafter by the 1972 Games in Heidelburg, and the 1976 Torontolympiad. In addition, he competed in two Stoke Mandeville Games in 1973 and 1975, two Pan-American Games in Jamaica in 1971 and in Halifax in 1982, as well as two World Cups in Brussels, Belgium in 1975, and in Halifax in 1982.
A highly successful athlete, Walter has accumulated over 80 medals over the course of his athletic career at the provincial, national, and international level. Never content to settle on just one sport, Walter excelled at multiple, competing in basketball, weight lifting, track & field, swimming, and table tennis. His most memorable time was in Jamaica in 1971 where he won a total of 11 medals: 4 silver and 7 bronze. Another great success came in 1975 at Stoke Mandeville, where he won a gold in the Basketball B Division.
Walter has also been heavily involved in community initiatives throughout his life, having been a member of the Spryfield Lions Club in Halifax for over 20 years. In 1979 and 1983, he was “Lion of the Year” for outstanding service, loyalty, and dedication to “Lionism and Community.” In 1984, he would go on to become President of the Lions Club of Nova Scotia, as well as serve two terms as a member of the recreation council of the City of Halifax and act as Chairman of the Spryfield Rink.
Winnipeg 1974 - Walter Dann (left) and Camille McGraw (right)
Walter has also been very active in coaching minor sports for over 20 years. He coached Hockey Juvenile A Champs in 1978, and Lacrosse Bantam A Nova Scotia Champs from 1979 to 1981. He then went on to coach the Beaver Baseball Nova Scotia Champs in 1983 and the Provincial Midget Baseball Champs in 1986.
In 1975 Walter was honoured by the Nova Scotia Department of Recreation and Sports, and in 1982 and 1983 he was honoured by the Province of Nova Scotia at the Night of Champions Event for Outstanding Sports Achievements. He was also honoured by the Spryfield Lions Club for personal accomplishments in wheelchair sports and community services. In 1995 he was Dalhousie University’s award winner for recognition of his contribution to Nova Scotia sports. He was inducted into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame in 1991, and also inducted into the Hall of Excellence Sports Nova Scotia in 2003.
At the early age of 65, he finally retired from the Maritime Basketball League in 2010. Today, Walter and his wife, Sharon, have been married for 49 years, and together they have two sons: Walter Jr. and Dwayne.
Walter Dann at the 1976 Torontolympiad