Legendary Star photographer Bob Olson dies at 91

Ora Sawyers

Bob Olsen, an award-winning photographer who documented pivotal episodes in Canadian background for the Star for nearly 3 decades, has died. He was 91.

Olsen died in a very long-termcare property in Aldergrove, B.C., on Dec. 22, next a couple of years of declining well being, in accordance to his daughter, Christine March.

“He was one particular of the best information photographers in the place,” recalled Frank Calleja, a former Star colleague and longtime pal.

Generally thorough to stake out the greatest vantage place to photograph the minute, “he was tenacious on the career,” Calleja ongoing, introducing that Olsen “wouldn’t set up with any anybody usurping his capturing area.”

Robert Eric Olsen was born on April 13, 1931, in Edmonton, Alta., one of 8 youngsters. Soon right after he was born, the spouse and children moved to Vancouver, the place, with no a significant university diploma, Olsen got his commence in photojournalism in his late teens. He commenced as a duplicate boy at the Vancouver Day-to-day Province right before he was sooner or later reliable with a digicam. He later on worked for the Vancouver Sunshine and the Vancouver Instances.

In 1954, Olsen married his significant college sweetheart, Louise Johnston. The pair had a few children jointly.

Before long right after they married, Olsen’s vocation took off. The dramatic visuals 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 particular of the biggest peacetime, non-nuclear blasts — seemed to raise his profile, March mentioned. He received two Nationwide Newspaper Awards for the duration of his many years as a photographer on the West Coastline, once in 1959 and all over again in 1964.

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

In 1965, Olsen joined the Star. Around the next 27 yrs, he was a to start with-hand witness to quite a few historic functions in this country’s heritage, like the 1976 Summer months Olympics in Montreal and the October Crisis, a minute that even now looms big in March’s memory.

“Dad was supposed to be absent for a pair of days, and I imagine he was long gone for 3 weeks,” March mentioned. “It was the initially time I was knowledgeable that my mother was afraid, mainly because it was these an very terrifying, disruptive time.”

Her father would usually keep boxes of Kodak color movie in the fridge to hold them contemporary. Even as a child, she understood he had an thrilling job. Who else had a father or mother who would vanish for days to photograph the Royal Family — capturing history, up close, as it was remaining made?

Olsen photographed Mother Teresa in India in December 1979.

“He’s 1 of the most effective photographers I seriously at any time worked with,” said Dick Loek, yet another previous Star photographer and friend. He remembered Olsen as humble, generous and unassuming — “just a great newspaper particular person.”

“There was, of class, the just one image all people is aware of him for,” Loek stated.

Snapped in August of 1979, the impression displays a group of men and women in a prairie discipline outside the house Saskatoon waving farewell as the coach transporting Prime Minister John Diefenbaker’s system chugs along.

“The photos he shot had been often distinctive,” Loek stated. “Perfect.”

Olsen photographed the Diefenbaker funeral train in August of 1979.

In 1992, just as the electronic digicam revolution was acquiring begun, Olsen retired.

Even though he was demanding — he appreciated to say he ran the property like a “benign dictatorship” — March claimed her father had a good feeling of humour, an appreciation for the absurd and he normally encouraged his children’s resourceful pursuits.

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

Calleja, who often fished with Olsen on the Credit score River, recalled sharing 1 bug-infested evening years back. “So Bob said, ‘I’ve obtained a net I can set around my hat, and it will guard my face.’ What he forgot was that he had a lit cigarette in his mouth,” Calleja explained with a giggle. “When he pulled the mesh more than, 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 fantastic grandchildren, a person of whom is named immediately after him. He was predeceased by his spouse, Louise, and his son, Robert.

“We’re extremely aware that he was not just our father and that there’s a legacy of a human body of operate left behind,” March reported. “We’re just enormously very pleased of that.”

Correction — Dec. 30, 2022: This was updated from a formerly posted model to accurate a photo caption that mistakenly stated the date Bob Olsen’s Diefenbaker funeral practice image was taken.

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