Thomas Callender
Thomas Callender

Celebrating 80th birthday in style

By Admin Wednesday July 18 2012 in News
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Just six months after overcoming serious health challenges, Thomas Callender Snr. celebrated his 80th birthday in style with family and friends last Sunday at Ella’s Banquet Hall.

Turning 80 on July 12, the well-chiseled octogenarian is proud of the journey that brought him from Tobago in 1970 to Toronto where he became a world-class Masters runner and dedicated family man.

Thomas Callender Jr., who was a hurdler at Central Technical School in the 1980s, introduced his dad to the sport 27 years ago.

“He took me to a meet at York University and I showed him on the billboard that there was a Masters competition for athletes over the age of 40,” said the younger Callender. “He decided to give it a try and that opened the opportunity for him to travel around the world.”

Without training, Callender finished third in his first Masters race – a 100-metre event – at age 52 in 1985.

“I was so sore I knew I had to prepare properly and put in the work if I wanted to continue,” he said.

With financial support from his employer – Griffith Laboratories – who provided half of his airfare, Callender travelled to Japan, South Africa, England, the United States, Italy and other provinces to represent Canada in the 100-, 200-, 400- and 4 x 100-metre events before retiring five years ago.

Callender was a track and field athlete in school and carpenter in his Caribbean homeland before coming to Canada.

“I was looking for a better opportunity and a greener pasture when I made the decision to come here,” he said. “The only people I knew here were two friends, one in Montreal and the other in Toronto.”

After a week in Montreal, he tried to enter the United States to visit a close acquaintance but was turned back at the border. Three days later, he arrived in Toronto.


“My friend in this city (Alva Charles) encouraged me to come here because he figured I would not have been able to cope with the French influence in Montreal,” said the father of six and grandfather of 18. “So I jumped on a bus, headed here and had to find my way to his home on King St. W. and Elm Grove Ave. by walking and streetcar because he could not come to the bus terminal to get me. By the time I arrived at his home, I was frozen because it was November and I didn’t have a heavy coat or any winter clothing.”


Callender made $1.65 an hour producing swimming pools before joining Griffith Laboratories where he worked in the sanitation section for 25 years prior to retiring in 1997.


Tom Callender Jr. said his father has been a huge influence in his life.


“At a time when there are so many absent fathers in the lives of Black youths, we really appreciate having our dad around,” said the high voltage electrical tester. “All of his children are doing well for themselves and that’s a testament to him and our mom.”


Callender and his wife Floretta have been married for 52 years.



  • Christine said:

    Thank you Share for making this event worthy of coverage. We sincerely appreciate it. Be blessed …

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    Sunday July 22 at 1:02 am
  • Eunice Quash said:

    Congratulations Mr Callender on your 80th birthday. May God continue to bless you both. Unfortunately I was not able to attend your party last week. Continue to give God thanks for His Faithfulness and Grace . Best Regards to you, your wife and your daughters and sons.

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    Sunday July 22 at 3:17 pm
  • Alice Joseph-Harney said:

    Dear Mr Callender, congratulations and God’s Blessings on your 80th Birthday. It is a remarkable and wonderfull achievement and God has blessed you with a wonderful family. I pray God will continue to bless you with many more happy years. Best wishes from Alice-London England

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    Monday July 23 at 8:02 pm
  • Friend of Christine’s Darlene said:

    Mr. Callender congrats and good wishes for continued great health. I worked at Griffith Labs on Pharmacy Ave. from 76-79, we likely crossed paths! Worked with the sales guys but was a young girl in the early 20’s admin help. God Bless. Darlene

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    Thursday July 26 at 11:55 am
  • Hilda and Hiram Charles said:

    Uncle T, Congrats so sorry we could not make it this time.
    God willing we promise to be there for the big ’90’.
    Grace and Peace and Blessing.
    Your nieces and nephews.

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    Sunday July 29 at 1:43 am
  • jean harker said:

    Congratulations Mr. Callender not only for your birthday but for a lifetime of great achievements – raising such a wonderful family as well as all your successful athletic pursuits. I have known your daughter, Christine, for many years – a daugher you must be very, very proud of!

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    Tuesday July 31 at 11:32 pm

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