Jake Robbins

Jake Robbins

Saturday, March 6th, 1926 - Thursday, May 7th, 2020
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Jack (Arthur) Robbins

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.
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Service Details

A Celebration of both Geri and Jake’s Life will be held at a future date at Osler Bluff Ski Club Clubhouse.


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5 trees have been planted in memory of Jake Robbins

Susan Sadler

Posted at 09:07pm
To Marilyn and Family,
I have many fond memories of your parents while attending UWO with Marilyn. They were both so kind and generous. I was very fortunate to be a guest at the cabin . Knowing they were able to spend their final days in that treasured family home warms my heart. Sending all of you my love and sincere condolences. The world will seem more empty without them . Love, Susan Sadler (nee Prosser)

Big A

Posted at 01:44pm
So sorry about the loss of your Father. I will always remember him smiling with those big beautiful blue eyes. I thought he was the coolest Dad.
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Nancy Greene Raine and Al Raine

Posted at 11:15am
From Nancy Greene Raine and Al Raine

We had a long friendship with Jake and Geri, dating back to 1967 when Al first met them in his position of head alpine coach for Southern Ontario. Jake soon became his mentor, guiding and advising on all things ski racing in Ontario. When he learned that Al enjoyed tennis, snacks at the Robbins and tennis and meals at the Donalda Club were common events. Jake may have regretted that decision when he saw the meters long skid marks Al left all over those beautiful clay courts. Even though Jake was embarrassed when the tennis pro commented on the grooves and skid marks, the invitations continued and Geri, always smiling, was a gracious host.

Meanwhile Nancy had enjoyed a special relationship with 'Aunt Katie’ Ronson, executive director of the Osler Bluff Ski Club, who guided and mentored her during visits to Toronto starting in 1965. When Nancy retired in 1968, Katie put together a group of advisors that included Jake, who had experience in the ski business. Katie also suggested that Al find another space for his office (which had been in Katie’s spare bedroom) so Nancy could stay there as her business career got started.

A year later, with new wife Nancy in tow, Al introduced her to the fun of tennis matches with the Robbins. A life long friendship grew from those days. Many wonderful and joyful skiing days, occasional heli-ski adventures, what great memories! Jake and Geri loved coming out west to ski and when we started our hotel venture in Whistler, Jake and Geri were quick to invest and brought a few friends along. We still smile to this day, because through this Whistler investment, Jake finally managed to achieve his life long dream, buying a float plane and flying to the numerous lakes of Ontario. He was passionate about flying, and it had a special place in his heart ever since his wartime training experiences. Flying the skies of Ontario, brought tremendous joy and youth to his life.

By the early 1990s, we were introduced to golf in Sedona with Jake and Geri as mentors again. For several Octobers, we shared a condo on the Sedona par three links beside the tennis courts. Jake always promoting cycling and Arizona, but there never seemed to be enough time to join him on his Arizona bike trip until one year when his biking buddies Robert and Larry bailed only a few weeks prior to the departure date. Jake insisted that he had biked alone on a number of occasions and there was no danger, but Al said he would buy a bike and try to get in shape in the few weeks left before the departure date. Cycling every morning, then golf and finally tennis each day, with an occasional Sedona hike or a ride up past Jerome, became our routine for several weeks, all part of a normal day for Jake. In the end, Robert and Larry were able to make it as well, and now Al become part of Jake’s cycling gang. Nancy and Geri often drove down to the final bike destination to pick up the tired cyclists. The Robbins and Raines enjoyed several special cycling adventures, down the South Island of New Zealand and through the Interior of B.C. with Geri and Nancy golfing along the route and meeting the boys at the next motel.

It is heartwarming that Jake and Geri left this world close together, after so many years of living life to the fullest, life without the other would not have been the same. They were not old very long, their lives were rich with friends and family, lives that we can all be envious of, lives that dreams are made of, two great Canadians. Well done Jake and Geri.

Chris Jacobs

Posted at 11:44am
Jake was someone Ive admired and respected ALL my life! A highly gifted athlete, he was above all a gentleman of unshakeable principles. Sympathies
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Barb Murgatroyd

Posted at 07:36pm
My Dad TD Miller had a special place in his heart for Jake Robbins and so do I. Jake told Dad that his only child should ski and become a member of Osler Bluff Ski Club. So Dad did as he was told and I became a member. As hard as he tried Jake was never able to convince Dad to become a skier. ( Even after a few drinks with Lloydie !)
Our family is so grateful to Jake giving us a lifetime full of skiing memories to cherish.
Thank you Jake .You and Gerri were a force to look up too! With Love and Sympathy Barb Miller Murgatroyd

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