April 08, 2016 (Hudson, QC) – Maurice Jefferies, 85, a builder of the sport in Canada and a notable coach many of the country’s cycling greats in the 1960s and 70s including Jocelyn Lovell and Ron Hayman, passed away on March 31.
Jefferies competed as a top cyclist in his native England before immigrating to Canada in the 1950s. By 1959, he was in the Montreal area and became the Canadian national track coach, accompanying the team to many international competitions through 1973 including the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
Later he became the Technical Director at the Canadian Cycling Association (CCA) which included stints at two major competitions at home, the 1974 UCI Road Worlds and the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, both of which were held in Montreal.
Jefferies long list of contributions includes becoming an international commissaire in 1974 and he was assigned to many international races including the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton and the UCI Junior World Championships in 1978 and 1980.
“Maurice Jefferies played an important role in cycling in Quebec during his career, particularly during the 1974 Road and Track World Championships, the first ever to take place outside of Europe, as well as during the 1976 Olympic Games,” commented Louis Barbeau, FQSC (Fédération québécoise des sports cyclistes) director general.
“He remained involved in cycling up until 2008, mainly as an anti-doping commissaire at the end of his career. He was involved throughout his career in all aspects of cycling: athlete, then coach, organizer and finally commissaire. It’s no surprise he was inducted into the FQSC Hall of Fame in 1991,” continued Barbeau.
According to a North Shore News (Montreal) article dating from 1973, Jeffries was on the “short list” to represent Britain at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, but never got the call. He played a role in breaking Canada’s long-standing cycling medal drought at the 1970 Commonwealth Games, bringing home a gold, two silvers, and a bronze from track events at the Games. Lovell not only won gold at those Games, but also set a new track record. Yet their luck did not hold at the Munich Games in 1972 where Lovell could not reach the podium.
For his day job, Jefferies worked on building flight simulators for Canadian Aviations Electronics (CAE). His coaching career had to be outside of normal working hours.
“I knew Maurice Jefferies since he coached the Canadian team at the Brno UCI Track World Championships in 1969,” commented Jean Lessard, also one of his former athletes who later founded the Tour de Beauce. “Jocelyn Lovell answered to Mr. Jefferies back then. He was very passionate about bicycling and especially about the track. He was extremely competent, pleasant, discrete and diplomatic. I had the chance to rub shoulders with him often, and every time, he had precious advice to give me.”
“When we inducted (Jefferies) into the FQSC Hall of Cycling Fame in 1991, I had the privilege of giving him the commemorative plaque which related his precious contribution and great devotion to cycling in Quebec and in Canada. His implication in the sport spanned different generations. I will always have excellent memories of this very humble man.”
Canada’s most acclaimed rider, Steve Bauer, also knew Jefferies who touched so many in his long career in the sport. “I knew Maurice to be a gentleman and saw him frequently at races as a lead commissaire. A good man is my memory of him,” shared Bauer.
The North Shore News relates how Jefferies was once at The Independence Games for a track race in Barbados when a Canadian tourist spotted him in the team uniform and asked a question about the Canadiens hockey team. Jefferies played dumb with the tourist and joked he didn’t know much about football. The tourist then declared Jefferies was not much of a Canadian. “I don’t know about that,” Jefferies apparently responded. “I bring home medals for Canada… what do you do?”
A celebration of his life will take place Saturday, May 7, at 2 pm, at St. James Church, 642 Main Road, Hudson, Quebec.
Pedal joins the cycling community in extending its sympathies and condlences to Jefferies’ family and friends.