Advocate shifted Ottawa’s paths
Vrtucar founder dead at 74
A celebration of life will be held next May 20, the 75th birthday of cycling advocate, Green party activist and municipal worker Chris Bradshaw, who died this month.
Born in Vancouver to a Canadian father and American mother, Bradshaw’s family moved to Dover, Ohio, when he was a child.
As he wrote in an online blog, his first “full-time” year as an adult in his native land was 1967, the year after his graduation from Ohio’s Oberlin College.
As was more common in those times, and perhaps a harbinger of his later activities as a co-founder of both the OttaWalk group and the Vrtucar network, he hitchhiked into Canada.
As it was for many visitors, Expo 67 was a life-changer for Bradshaw, particularly Moshe Safdie’s iconic model community, Habitat 67.
“In thinking back,” Bradshaw wrote in his 2017 blog, “The Safdie exhibit in Montreal was probably biggest influence in my life.”
Leaving his GM job in 1969, he joined the Company of Young Canadians in Ottawa — also the year he eloped for a Wakefield wedding to his sweetheart Maryann Bradshaw, whom he’d first met on his travels. They moved into an apartment in the Glebe.
Over the years, he became executive director of the Canadian Organization of Public Housing Tenants before joining what was then the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, where he served as community-relations specialist for 22 years before retiring in 1995.
Five years later, Bradshaw co-founded the Vrtucar car-sharing service with one car and four members. Today, the network has dozens of locations across the national capital and partnerships with services in Quebec, Paris and Halifax.
Bradshaw sold his share to a partner in 2006.
His life in politics began with a run in the 1999 provincial election, collecting more than 1,200 votes for the Green party in Ottawa Centre. He represented the Greens in several federal and provincial elections over the years.
Bradshaw is survived by his wife Maryann Bradshaw, two daughters and four grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Elisabeth Bruyère Hospital at bruyere.org, or Cycling Without Age at cyclingwithoutage. ca/ottawa.