By Kathy Smith
We are saddened to share the news of the passing of Moffat Dunlap on September 11, 2023, at the age of 82.
A 20-year member of the Canadian Equestrian Team, Dunlap helped the team to a bronze medal win at the 1967 Pan-American Games, and the team gold medal at the 1970 World Championships in La Baule, France. He was twice inducted into the Jump Canada Hall of Fame: as an individual in the Builder category in 2015, and with show jumping team members Jim Day, Jimmy Day, and Jim Elder in 2018.
Dunlap competed in show jumping at The Royal Horse Show in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, winning several prestigious classes including the Puissance, and earning The Royal Horse Show’s coveted Leading Canadian Rider title on several occasions. From 1982 to 1984 he served as Chairman of the Royal Horse Show Administrative Committee, and in 1988 and 1989 served as President and Chairman of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.
Outside of the show jumping ring, he served the equestrian community in numerous capacities including as Director and Jumping Team Chairman for the Canadian Equestrian team at the Los Angeles Olympics; as Director of the Canadian Pony Club, the Canadian Horse Council, the Canadian Horse Shows Association, among others; and as an Advisor for the Equine Research Centre at the University of Guelph.
Among his many other accomplishments, he continued the Dunlap family legacy in support of astronomical research, which began in 1934 with the donation of funds and 76 hectares of land for the building of a major astronomy observatory, the David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill, Ontario, named after his grandfather. Over the subsequent decades, the Observatory helped make groundbreaking discoveries in astronomy, which included mapping the structure of the Milky Way Galaxy, finding the first empirical evidence of a black hole, and helping to establish the rate at which the universe is expanding.
Canada’s gold medal 1970 World Show Jumping Championship team. (L-R) Moffat Dunlap, Tom Gayford, Jim Day, and Jim Elder. Photo courtesy of Equestrian Canada
In 2008, because of increasing pollution in the area, the Dunlap heirs (including Moffat Dunlap) agreed the land would be sold and the largest share of proceeds would endow the Dunlap Institute, creating the Dunlap Endowment.
The establishment of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto was a point of great pride for Moffat Dunlap. His obituary published on the University of Toronto website includes this statement in recognition of the importance of his support: “Moffat Dunlap’s generosity sprang from a true vision for excellence in astronomical research,” said University of Toronto President Meric Gertler. “The Dunlap family’s support has been central to the success story of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics over the past century. And Moffat Dunlap’s support at a crucial moment helped put astronomy in Canada on a firm footing for the future. The University of Toronto community will always be grateful to him, and I extend heartfelt condolences to the Dunlap family on his passing.”
Dunlap’s obituary on The Royal Winter Fair website describes the values he exemplified: “Moffat commented that the Royal Horse Show has always been about pursuing excellence in horse sport across all disciplines. The magic of the Royal is based on fan support and the tremendous dedication of the staff, volunteers, and exhibitors. We all do our part to maintain and improve this great Canadian tradition.”
Dunlap also founded Moffat Dunlap Real Estate in 1972, specializing in equestrian and country property in southern Ontario. Moffat is survived by his children Louise, John, Allison and Daphne, and five grandchildren.
With files from The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, University of Toronto, and Equestrian Canada.
Photo courtesy of The Royal Winter Fair