Os Brownlee was one of Australian Canoeing’s founding fathers. Os was the inaugural Vice-President holding the role from 1949 – 1952. He then became President of the Australian Canoe Federation from 1953 – 1954; during this time Australian Canoe Federation constitution only allowed one person to be President for two years. Once completing his role as President, Os become Vice-President again from 1955 – 1960 and then again 1965 – 1982; Os was on the Board of Australian Canoeing for a total of 29 years!
Os was also a founding member of the NSW Canoe Association in 1949 (PaddleNSW) and an executive member of the association for many years. Os made great contributions to River Canoe Club, NSW Canoe Association and Australian Canoe Federation which included his work and initiation of Canoe Slalom through the 1960’s and 1970’s. For Os’ years of service he has been awarded life membership at River Canoe Club in 1966, NSW Canoe Association in 1962 and Australian Canoe Federation in 1971.
Even though Os held many roles at all levels of associations throughout the Australian Canoe Federation, he was a dedicated official at Australian Canoe Sprint Championships and then moved to Slalom in 1960. During the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Os was the ICF Line Judge Official; he was the official made the results official when Dennis Green and Walter Brown won Australia’s first canoeing Olympic medal.
Os was recognised as the doyen of canoeing, as his interest and active involvement spanned some 60 years. His commitment to the canoeing family encompassed building canoes (timber and fibreglass), organising and enjoying numerous river trips, competing in Club, State and National Sprint Championships (K1,K2,C1,C2), working to construct a new clubhouse, instructing new paddlers, reviewing constitutions (Club, State & National) and counselling elite athletes – in addition to his honorary administrative positions. At the national level, Os was a vocal advocate for reducing state based voting and bias to achieve a unified national model – unfortunately, not achieved in his lifetime.