Advocate shifted Ot­tawa’s paths

Vr­tu­car founder dead at 74

Ottawa Sun - - NEWS - NORMAN PROVENCHER

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.

PAT Mc­GRATH FILES

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