A Tribute to Nicholas Owens
The Owens family tragically lost their dear son Nicholas on Tuesday of last week. Nick Owens who along with his brothers Pat, Jeff and Jess, and sister Ellie paddled at BBCC for most of his childhood. His parents Eric and Laurel are long-standing volunteers at BBCC with Laurel serving on our Board as Registrar for many years.
Nicholas Owens, or Nick-O to many at the Balmy Beach Canoe Club, joined his older sister, Ellie and brother, Pat, the first year the BBCC was running a summer camp for under 10-year-olds. At the young age of 6, he was far younger than many, but coaches felt that he would be in good hands having two older siblings tagging along at the camp. And from that point he never looked back. Him, along with a few other over energized U10s would make the club staff work hard that summer and for many summers to come. Participating in weekend summer regattas, Nick was always a willing participant to hop into any boat for any age; kayak, canoes, and even Ladies war canoe.
His natural competitive spirit was always well-lit with his older siblings pushing themselves in the sport as well. In fierce competition to make the BBCC war canoe crew that had paddlers 3, 4 and 5 years older than him, he never backed away. He travelled (didn’t race) to his first National Championships in 2006 Regina, SK at the age of 11 and got his first taste of the community, competition, and bug to win. In 2007, in an oversized lifejacket, he got his first chance to race at the national championships in Ottawa, ON. Racing in the Midget War Canoe (Under16), he was at the front of the boat, a place where he would stick in for a long time. After making the final, Nick-O and the Balmy Beach crew placed 4th by only a foot, just missing his first medal.
Nick would go on to represent Balmy Beach at two Ontario Summer Games (2008, 2010), be one of the top canoeists for his age category across the province of Ontario. As he entered high school (finally!), too old for the summer camp, he joined the Coach-In-Training program with many of his friends from summer camps prior. He got his first taste of coaching and was just happy to spend more hours at the club, in the boat house, and more importantly being able to sit and eat on the infamous Pontoon Boat without being yelled at by coaches. Helping that year and the next few years at various positions in the club, all while training.
Nick Owens was never the fastest, strongest, or most diligent, but he was club kid. He grew up in the sport and fell for the community and competitiveness. He had a knack for canoeing and the team spirit to push himself and others around him. Even as he fell out of the sport, he never could escape the club. His younger brothers, Jeff and Jess, kept the Owens’ family tradition around camp, the club, and competitions. Nick continued to come around the club, or visit at fundraisers and regattas, sometimes jumping back into a war canoe race when we needed an extra left, which Beach always does.
Growing up with the club, Nick shared many achievements on and off the water, grew long lasting friendships, and without even knowing back in 2001 at the age of 6 that he was joining a community and a family.
Thank you for being at the Beach and we will always miss seeing you in the Blue and Gold Nick Owens.
Yesterday, Saturday May 30th, a tribute on the beach was organized by the family and their friends. Nick’s teammates, coaches, their families, and the BBCC community gathered outside of the Balmy Beach Club to pay tribute. The Owens family stood in a circle, surrounded by letters drawn in the sand to spell "Nicholas O". We each found a stone in the stand and as a community, one stone at a time, we wrote Nick’s name, as a remembrance to his life. Outside of the Owen's circle, the BBCC community stood together, at a social distance from each other, and shared our sympathies and love. Laurel (Nick's mother) read aloud the beautifully written obituary, sharing Nick's rich life and love for his family.
The union of all BBCC generations was a beautiful and fitting tribute while traditional gatherings are unavailable. The Owen's are deeply engraved in our club’s history and in our hearts, we send our deepest condolences and love.
January 15, 1995 - May 26, 2020
Junior accountant, entrepreneur, sprint canoe paddler, bargain-hunter. Death by misadventure. Nick is survived by parents, Eric and Laurel; sister, Ellie; brother and C-2 partner, Patrick; younger brothers, Jeff and Jess; grandfather, Arnold; and several aunts, uncles, and cousins. Nick lived his life in our small house, surrounded by a tight-knit Clan of other loving, generous families in the Beach neighborhood of Toronto. He was intensely loyal to his family. When Nick was the youngest of three, and the family moved from a two to a four-bedroom house, the siblings refused to decamp from their shared room. Individuality meant little in this family and so everyone did the same sports to get the group discount: canoe/kayak racing in the summers with the Balmy Beach Canoe Club and hockey at Victoria Village in winter. Nick's second family was the Wust-Hobbs' who took him on trips to the Maine coast and to grandparents' homes on Lake Simcoe and Dunedin. Every fall the siblings spent a weekend with Auntie Kathy and Uncle David, picking apples, making pies and working through the list of fun activities Uncle David had planned. As young men, Nick and Pat loved their trips to California to see the Owens Clan, explore the desert with Arnold and lie by the pool at Auntie Lisa's. Nick graduated from St. Denis, Neil McNeil HS, Brock University and Humber College. In January he was hired as an accountant and began working towards his CPA designation. Accounting was a natural fit. Growing up, Nick would ask his mother and fellow bargain-hunter "what'd you pay for that?" and when she told him, he would say "you paid too much". Only since his death have we learned that he was well on his way to amassing his fortune through savings and shrewd investments. Nick was going places.