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Gryphon Gallery: The Brambell Boys

Stuart Brambley, School Archivist
James and Iain Brambell were both good athletes as schoolboys.
James attended Glenlyon Preparatory from 1977 to 1985, while Iain was at Glenlyon and GNS from 1979 to 1987. Both boys were strong cross-country/track athletes and soccer players, they were also immensely dedicated to their studies and showed determination and perseverance in whatever they did. 

During James’ time at Glenlyon, he rowed off the Beach Drive campus with the Glenlyon rowing team coached by Rick Cicchini. This led to both boys becoming involved in rowing at Claremont Secondary, where they went on to join the Victoria City Rowing Club and seriously pursued rowing throughout their educational journeys—James at Camosun (Criminal Justice Diploma) and UVic (Social Sciences), and Iain at Brock University where he graduated on The Dean’s Honour List (Health Studies) and Western University (Education).

James was a sculler and his breakthrough came in 1993 at St. Catherines where he won the Theo Dubois Trophy in Intermediate Lightweight Single Sculls. By 1995, he was first at the Canada Trials in Mens Lightweight Single Sculls and selected for the Pan American Games in Argentina where he won a bronze medal. That same year he went on to row at the World Championships in Finland, placing eighth. James’ next and what was to be his final international selection came in 1998 for the World Championships in Cologne, Germany. The upside was that he rowed in Lightweight Double Sculls with his younger brother, Iain—a very rare, if not the only brother combination representing Canada at an international rowing event.

Iain made his debut at the 1997 Worlds in France in Lightweight Double Scull, but two years later made a tactical and what proved fruitful switch to Lightweight Fours. In this event, he enjoyed a successful run of World Cup, World Championship and Pan American Games podium performances. He also competed in three Olympic Games, the crowning glory being a bronze at the 2008 Games in Beijing. 

In hindsight, for James and Iain, transitioning from high-performance athletes to “the working world” was relatively easy given that their same determination, perseverance and talent were in play. James used his qualifications to work in Human Resources, within the hospitality industry, the department of National Defense and most recently with Indian Oil & Gas—which manages and regulates oil and gas resources on designated First Nation lands across Canada. Although Iain had a brief teaching stint as a T.O.C at GNS his connection to high-performance sport proved to be his calling as his athlete representative roles with World Rowing and Chair of the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Athletes Commission, laid the foundation for his appointment as Rowing Canada’s High-Performance Director throughout the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games quadrennial and his current role as High-Performance Director of the Australian Sailing Team into the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

Well done ‘boys’, The Beach is certainly proud of your accomplishments!
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Glenlyon Norfolk School

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We wish to acknowledge and respect the Lekwungen-Speaking Peoples on whose traditional territory we stand, and the Songhees, Esquimalt and Wsáneć Peoples whose historical relationships with the land, where we live, work, play and learn, continue to this day.