MYRTLE COOK MCGOWAN
Record books illustrating past glories of Canadian Olympians will highlight the name of Myrtle Cook McGowan, raised in the Beaches area of Toronto, who captained the women’s 400-metre sprint relay team that won the gold medal at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, Holland.
Myrtle Cook moved to Montreal and became a sports reporter, but never really moved away from track and field as long as she lived. She was a member of the Canadian Olympic Club, an organization restricted to athletes who represented Canada in the Olympic Games. As such, Myrtle Cook ran the hospitality suite for the Olympic Club of Canada during the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. She was there every afternoon and evening, shaking hands with Canadian and international Olympic figures who dropped in for a refreshing drink, a bite to eat or just to chat.
Myrtle, proud of her Olympic achievements which included a gold and several silver medals, wore only the silver medals during the Games in Montreal. Much to her dismay, she had temporarily mislaid her Gold Medal which, fortunately was found the next day.
Those who saw her during the Montreal Olympics were impressed with the shape the, then, 74-year-old woman was in. She was so fit that when the events finished at the Olympic Stadium, she would go out onto the track and run a lap just for her own satisfaction.
“I wore sneakers and went as fast as I could for the last two hundred meters,” she admitted. “It nearly killed me.”
Myrtle covered amateur sports for the Montreal Star for many years and was one of the most popular members of the staff. And when she didn’t write, she went out running, played badminton or lawn bowling. Myrtle Cook McGowan had the distinction of opening the door for female journalists in a business that was once a virtually exclusive man’s domain.