Contact Staff

As news of the passing of Winston Roberts trickled into Montreal, many who know of his contributions towards building our community took time out to pay tribute to his life and legacy.
Roberts, an educator, entrepreneur, sportsman and community worker passed peacefully at home on December 21 surrounded by family. He was 79-years-old.
It was in the sport of bodybuilding that he made his biggest mark: winning the prestigious Mr. Canada title on two occasions, the first Black person to do so.
His prowess in the sport put him in contact with some of the biggest in international body building, including the icons Arnold Schwatznegger, Lou Ferrigno (the Hulk) and of course Ben Weider.
Roberts eventually went on to become the secretary-general of the International Federation of Body Builders in 1972, distinguishing him by rewriting the organization’s judging playbook and constitution.
Throughout his life, Roberts continued to promote the sport with his Musclemania show in Montreal in the 90s and the Winston Roberts Open and Cobourg Naturals in the past decade.
In 2013, he was awarded the Robert Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his contribution to bodybuilding.
He was a beloved teacher to many, most notably at Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School in Ajax, Ontario.
Born in Kingstown, St. Vincent, Roberts was an accomplished schoolteacher, sportsman and a promoter of cultural activities, including carnival, by the time he migrated to Montreal in the 1960s.
Once here, he held teaching jobs at John XXIII and Pierrefonds Comprehensive high schools in Montreal and became involved in other initiatives, including the community television show, Black Is.
It was in the early 1970s, when Roberts was called upon by Union United Church to assist in the organization of their 65th anniversary. The parade he organized laid the foundation for today’s annual Black and Caribbean summer festival, Carifiesta.
Roberts has also defined himself as one of our community’s best-known entrepreneurs. As owner of the Winston’s Gym in Cote des Neiges, he was an inspiration to many.
Financier Patric Brady who worked with Roberts at the gym for about nine years, described him as “a man with a heart of gold” who valued friendship.
According to Gemma Raeburn Baynes, who worked with Roberts on the first parade, he was “soft spoken, kind and generous to everyone.”
Gemma also pointed to his entrepreneurial reach which extended back to the late 60s when he owned and operated the first “Black and West Indian/American” Restaurant in downtown Montreal near the Sir George Williams University, called the “Runaway Slave.” He exposed Montrealers to one of  their earliest experiences with Caribbean and Black American food, serving up some southern ribs, grits and collard greens, roti, curry chicken and saltfish.
In all that he has contributed and achieved, his family says that he will be remembered most as a loving father.
Winston is remembered by his daughters Ayanna (Pablo), Nataki (Donald) and Kamillah (Lucas), his grandchildren Nia, Amarra, Loïc and Myca, his former wives Alison McIntosh and Guiseppina Azzue, his family and friends, the Vincentian community and the bodybuilding world.
Roberts was buried in Oshawa, Toronto, on Saturday, January 6.