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Legendary Star photographer Bob Olson dies at 91

Bob Olsen, an award-winning photographer who documented pivotal episodes in Canadian historical past for the Star for practically three a long time, has died. He was 91.

Olsen died at a long-term care dwelling in Aldergrove, BC, on Dec. 22, following a number of years of declining well being, based on his daughter, Christine March.

“He was among the best information photographers within the nation,” recalled Frank Calleja, a former Star colleague and longtime pal.

At all times cautious to stake out the perfect vantage level to {photograph} the second, “he was tenacious on the job,” Calleja continued, including that Olsen “would not put up with anybody usurping his capturing area.”

Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup on May 2, 1967.

Robert Eric Olsen was born on April 13, 1931, in Edmonton, Alta., certainly one of eight kids. Shortly after he was born, the household moved to Vancouver, the place, with no highschool diploma, Olsen received his begin in photojournalism in his late teenagers. He started as a duplicate boy on the Vancouver Every day Province earlier than he was ultimately trusted with a digicam. He later labored for the Vancouver Solar and the Vancouver Occasions.

In 1954, Olsen married his highschool sweetheart, Louise Johnston. The couple had three kids collectively.

Quickly after they married, Olsen’s profession took off. The dramatic photos he captured of the 1958 explosion of Ripple Rock — an underwater mountain and nautical hazard off the coast of Vancouver Island that was destroyed in one of many largest peacetime, non-nuclear blasts — appeared to boost his profile, March stated. He gained two Nationwide Newspaper Awards throughout his years as a photographer on the West Coast, as soon as in 1959 and once more in 1964.

Troops march in the streets of Montreal Oct.  20, 1970.

In 1965, Olsen joined the Star. Over the following 27 years, he was a first-hand witness to quite a few historic occasions on this nation’s historical past, together with the 1976 Summer season Olympics in Montreal and the October Disaster, a second that also looms massive in March’s reminiscence.

“Dad was purported to be gone for a few days, and I feel he was gone for 3 weeks,” March stated. “It was the primary time I used to be conscious that my mother was afraid, as a result of it was such an extremely terrifying, disruptive time.”

Her father would all the time retailer bins of Kodak shade movie within the fridge to maintain them contemporary. Whilst a child, she knew she had an thrilling job. Who else had a guardian who would disappear for days to {photograph} the Royal Household — capturing historical past, up shut, because it was being made?

Olsen photographed Mother Teresa in India in December 1979.

“He is among the best photographers I’ve actually ever labored with,” stated Dick Loek, one other former Star photographer and pal. He remembered Olsen as humble, beneficiant and unassuming — “only a good newspaper individual.”

“There was, after all, the one image everyone is aware of him for,” Loek stated.

Snapped in August of 1979, the picture exhibits a gaggle of individuals in a prairie subject exterior Saskatoon waving farewell because the practice transporting Prime Minister John Diefenbaker’s physique chugs alongside.

“The images he shot had been all the time completely different,” Loek stated. “Good.”

Olsen photographed the Diefenbaker funeral train in August of 1979.

In 1992, simply because the digital digicam revolution was getting began, Olsen retired.

Although he was strict — he preferred to say he ran the home like a “benign dictatorship” — March stated his father had a fantastic humorousness, an appreciation for the absurd and he all the time inspired his kids’s artistic pursuits.

Olsen himself dabbled in watercolor and acrylic portray. He was additionally an avid fly fisherman who would tie his personal flies.

Calleja, who typically fished with Olsen on the Credit score River, recalling sharing one bug-infested night years in the past. “So Bob stated, ‘I’ve received a internet I can put over my hat, and it’ll guard my face.’ What he forgot was that he had a lit cigarette in his mouth,” Calleja stated with amusing. “When he pulled the mesh over, there was a puff of smoke and Bobby singed his eyelids.”

Olsen is survived by his daughters, Christine and Suzanne, his youngest brother, William, two grandchildren, and two nice grandchildren, certainly one of whom is known as after him. He was predeceased by his spouse, Louise, and his son, Robert.

“We’re very conscious that he wasn’t simply our father and that there is a legacy of a physique of labor left behind,” March stated. “We’re simply enormously pleased with that.”

Correction — Dec. 30, 2022: This was up to date from a beforehand printed model to appropriate a photograph caption that mistakenly said the date Bob Olsen’s Diefenbaker funeral practice picture was taken.


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