Russell Anselm Charter was born on April 21, 1934 on Hermitage Rd. Belmont, Port of Spain, Trinidad to mother Edna Charter and Father Arthur Leiba Jr. not Edgar Leiba Jr. He died on November 14, 2021, at Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie, Ontario after a brief illness.
He migrated to Oshawa in 1970 where he lived for over 40 years. He started working as an Ambulance Driver and worked his way up to being one of 16 specially trained Paramedics in the province to administer advanced life support, he retired in 1994.
In 1982 Charter offered his service to the Ministry of National Security in Trinidad to train the Emergency Services and Airline personnel in Emergency first aid, CPR in Trinidad and Tobago.
In Trinidad, Charter emerged as one of great masquerade costume designers working with “mas masters” such as Cito Velasquez, Geraldo ‘viera, and Harold Saldenah. He was also involved with Carnival mastermind Andrew Thomas Carr, who was instrumental in developing Trinidad’s “Greatest show on Earth.” Russell was eager to spread his Trinidadian culture when he migrated to Canada.
In 1963 Charter lead Silver Stars Steel Orchestras, one of the oldest and best steelbands in Port of Spain, to its greatest achievement for conceiving and designing a mas called Gulliver’s Travels. The design garnered both the “Band of the Year” and “The People’s Choice” awards. It was first time this was ever won by a steelband. After coming to Toronto, he won the “Band of the Year” in the 1979 Caribana. Another of Charter’s cherished awards was the Queen Diamond Jubilee Medal.
He was pass president of Oshawa Club Carib Inc. and served two terms a President of the Oshawa Folk Arts Council. Russell was also the chairman of the Oshawa Father’s Day Parade for over a decade; the parade usually marks the start of the city’s Fiesta Week.
He was the husband of Jan with whom he had just celebrated their 60-year anniversary last August. He was the brother of Annette De Silva, uncle of Cristel, Trisha and Sonja De Silva. Russell had many nieces and nephews from the Jardine family, and was predeceased by cousin former Ontario Deputy Minister Tom Sosa who passed away Nov 1, 2021.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the Alzheimer’s Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Charter will be cremated; his ashes will be returned to Trinidad. A Celebration of Life is being planned for the Spring of 2022 in Oshawa. Details will be announced at later date.