Louis Rubenstein Residence

1871 - 1891
71-73 St. Antoine Ouest

Louis Rubenstein (1861–1931) was Canada’s first international figure skating champion. He was born and raised in Montreal into a family that owned Rubenstein Bros. Co. Inc, a successful machinery business. Their prosperous company gave them the financial means to allow their son to devote his time to skating. Rubenstein won the Championship of Montreal in 1878, but it was his performance in 1890 in St. Petersburg, Russia, for which he is most remembered. In St. Petersburg, he was confronted with antisemitic police harassment and pressure to leave the competition. Despite this discrimination, he won the gold medal and became the first world champion of figure skating, as no other North American figure skater had competed overseas until this time.

In 1887, due to worldwide inconsistencies of judges and rules for figure skating competitions, Rubenstein formed the Amateur Skating Association of Canada (ASAC). He remained president of the organization until 1930. Figure skating was not Rubenstein’s only sporting interest; he also enjoyed hockey, curling, bowling and bicycling. He was later named the “Father of Bowling in Canada” by the Montreal Star. He was also referred to as the “Father of North American Figure Skating.” And as a cycling enthusiast, he founded the Canadian Wheelmans’ Association and served as president for eighteen years.

Rubenstein eventually retired from professional sports and became involved in city politics, serving as an alderman from 1914 to 1931. During his time in office, the Rubenstein Public Bath was built in his name on Jeanne-Mance Street (now the site of Complexe Desjardins). It served Montreal’s poor who often lacked running or hot water. Rubenstein was also active in the Jewish community, presiding over the Young Men’s Hebrew Association from 1917 until 1931, when he died on January 3rd. The citizens of Montreal remembered him fondly for his skating career, his support of labour and his commitment to the city. A memorial was erected in Fletcher’s Field (now Parc Jeanne-Mance). Rubenstein was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1981 and the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1984.

Compiled by Valérie Beauchemin and David Gilbert.



Canadian Jewish Heritage Network - Louis Rubenstein page
Rubenstein Bros. Co.
World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame


“About Skate Canada.” Skate Canada website.

Hines, James R. Figure Skating: A History. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006.

“Inspiring Figure: The Louis Rubenstein Story.” National Film Board of Canada website.

“Louis Rubenstein.” International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame website.

N., Robert. “The Unforgettable Louis Rubenstein.” The West Island Chronicle April 9, 2009.

“The Company History.” Rubenstein Bros. Co. Inc. website.


*Images courtesy of the Jewish Public Library Archives, the YM-YWHA, and Hillel Becker.