Joseph Raymond “Gerry” Ouellette—Windsor’s only Olympic Gold Medallist—finished atop the podium at the 1956 event held in Melbourne, Australia. He was 22. His sport was small-bore, prone, rifle shooting. In a performance that the Toronto Star reporter Milt Dunnell called the “most spectacular ever seen,” Ouellette shot a perfect 600—that’s 60 consecutive bull’s eyes. It was the stuff of sports legend.
But there’s more. The gun that Ouellette used was his teammate Gil Boa’s; this was because Gerry’s had been damaged on the way to Australia. The rules of the event stipulated that all competitors shoot in the same 2 ½ hour period, so Gerry and Gil decided to split the time: “that translated into one shot every 75 seconds at a target with a bulls-eye a bit larger than a Canadian dime, 50 metres distant.” (Techko, 24)
He was born in Windsor on August 14, 1934. While a student at W.D. Lowe, Ouellette learned to shoot under the guidance of Major Wyn Jennings. He further sharpened his skills while serving with the Canadian Reserve Army. At age 17, Gerry won the junior and cadet service rifle championship of Canada; the following year he won the Lieutenant-Governor’s medal.
Other things to know about the life and times of Gerry Ouellette:
- He was not only honoured with his own Canadian stamp—the Dominican Republic also issued a one centavo triangular stamp commemorating his Olympic triumph;
- His wife, Judy, was also a shooter; they became the first husband and wife team to compete at the Bisley competition in the UK;
- You won’t find Ouellette’s perfect score in the record books—officials deemed that the targets had been placed a metre and a half too close;
- He followed up Melbourne with gold, silver, and bronze medals at the Chicago Pan Am games in 1959, and a silver medal at the Winnipeg Pan Am games in 1967;
- He belongs to several Halls of Fame—the Windsor/Essex, the Canadian Olympic, Canada’s Sports, and the Canadian Forces.
Gerry Ouellette died, age 40, on June 25, 1975 when the plane he was piloting crashed into a field outside Leamington.
Techko, Tony, and Carl Morgan. The Olympians among Us: Celebrating a Century of Excellence. Tecumseh, Ont.: TraveLife Pub. Enterprises, 1995. Print.
Knack, Marty, Gary Rennie, Mike Frezell, Lorne Gannon, Bill Shields, Gord Henderson, and Jim McNulty. “Gerry Ouellette, 40, Killed as His Light Plane Crashes.” The Windsor Star 26 June 1975: 1-31.