Now 75, first man to roller skate across Canada retraces his footsteps

Clinton Shaw is driving this time and raising money for Ronald McDonald house

Clinton Shaw

Special to the Mirror

When Clinton Shaw was a young boy his mother told him to blink his eyes.

When he did, she said that was how long it would take to grow old. Now, at 75-years-old, he realizes she was right.

In the fall of 1966, Shaw was working at Canada Packers in Vancouver. At home, he had a wife and two daughters. The government was running TV ads appealing to every Canadian to participate in the upcoming centennial celebrations. So Shaw decided to do something to celebrate.

When he learned no one had roller skated across Canada, he knew that’s what he was going to do, but he shook with fear.

When he was five-years-old, his parents bought him a pair of steel roller skates that tightened to the bottom of his shoes with a key.

These skates took the soles of his shoes right off. He had to pull out the pickets of his neighbour’s fence to stop himself and when he fell, he skinned his knees, elbows and bum.

But that was 20 years prior, and just like being thrown from a horse he had to get back on again and overcome his fears.

So he became the first person to roller skate across Canada, 7,800 km on the Trans Canada Highway from Victoria to St. John’s.

Almost seven years later, in 1974, after learning no one had ever roller skated across the U.S.A, he decided to do that as well.

He skated east to west, this time from Battery Park, N.Y. to Santa Monica, Calif.

During that trip he set the world record, skating 170 km in one day from Clines Corners to Laguna, N.M.

In 1975, he set the world record again for Marathon Roller Skating on a roller rink, seven days, 15 hours and seven minutes.

To commemorate his trip 50 years ago, as well as celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, Shaw is driving across the country. This time he hopes to raise money for Ronald McDonald House along the way.