Jack Arthur Robbins passed away on May 07, 2020 in his beloved Tremblant style ski chalet at the base of Osler Bluff Ski Club. Jack was fondly known as “Jake”.
Jake was born on March 6, 1926 in Toronto, the son of Charles Arthur of Norwich and Verna Beatrice Robbins of York.
Too young to join the Canadian Air Force Jake enlisted with the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy taking his initial training in Canada before being deployed overseas to England for final training and staging. Fortunately he never saw action as the war ended shortly after his arrival in England. This episode in his young adult life inspired a life-long passion for aviation that led to his dream of piloting his own float planes later in life, a dream fulfilled once he retired and sold his business.
Jake graduated from the University of Toronto in 1948 with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Civil Engineering, where he also played on the U of T Football Team, the Varsity Blues.
As part of the management staff at Miller Paving Limited for more than 25 years he eventually set out on his own starting a successful road/pavement maintenance company, J.A. Robbins Construction. While working at Miller Paving and looking to keep key employees fully employed through the winter season, he engaged his passion for skiing and founded the Don Valley Ski Centre. Here he introduced the first early snowmaking system to a ski resort in Canada. Jake ran the Don Valley Ski Centre from 1958 through until the early seventies, introducing many thousands of Toronto residents to the winter sport that he loved.
He was the beloved husband and life partner for Kerttu ‘Geri’ Robbins (nee Salmi) who predeceased him on March 17, 2020. Through 69 years of marriage they shared their love of sports, (especially skiing, tennis and golf), adventure, travel and of course family and friends.
He was a loving Dad to Derek (Val), Michael (Cecilia), Marilyn (Steve), and Lynda (Ken), and loving “Poppa” to grandchildren Hayden, Raewyn, Michaela, Brodie, Erik, Kevyn & Jeffrey and great grandchildren Olive, Juniper and Holden. And special grandfather to Courtney and Isabella, and special great grandfather to Emery and Landon. Jake is survived by his cousin, Mike Morgan Robbins, having discovered this unknown family connection only 15 years ago. Jake was also a very proud god-father of Wendy Lloyd, daughter of one of his closest friends.
Jake was an avid sportsman his entire life, competing in ski races in Canada and the US from the 1940’s through 1970’s, and continuing to race every year in the Osler Bluff Ski Club Championships, including this past March at the age of 94. His passion for skiing started with a group of high school buddies when they climbed the hills of Rosedale Golf Club, Sherwood Park and Summit Golf Club. This progressed into taking the ski train to the Craigleith Depot and the start of his skiing passion on the Niagara Escarpment. One of the original 30 founding members of the Osler Bluff Ski Club, he was also one of the volunteer crew to cut the first ski trails. He built his treasured ski chalet at the bottom of the “Slalom” run.
Jake was an icon of Osler with his unrelenting commitment, dedication and leadership to the club. Nowhere was this more evident than his passion for ski racing at every level from club to Masters to the World Cup. On any given race day, Jake, with Geri at his side could be found at the finish corral with his highlighted start lists cheering on the racers. A real point of pride was his tireless commitment and energy in running the annual Osler Downhill, which began in 1958. This became the longest continual running downhill race in Canada, serving as an introduction to speed events for thousands of young Canadian ski racers, including some who went on to compete on the World Cup Circuit.
Jake organized countless ski expeditions with his keenest ski friends to many western resort destinations. He also loved his annual road biking trips to Arizona with family and only the fittest and bravest of friends; he even did several solo trips.
Jake was a visionary and a trail blazer. He will always be an inspiration to others to push beyond their limits, as he did himself.
The family would like to thank Michelle from Right At Home for her dedicated role as nurse and caregiver, along with the LHIN and St. Elizabeth nursing teams for their prompt and responsive care and advice/directions. Donations in Jake’s memory can be made to the Hospice Georgian Triangle Foundation (Campbell House), the Collingwood General & Marine Hospital Foundation or the Osler Bluff Ski Club “Jake Robbins Junior Racing Fund” (non-charitable).
A Celebration of both Geri and Jake’s Life will be held at a future date at Osler Bluff Ski Club Clubhouse.