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Obituary of Peter GORRIE
GORRIE, PETER, passed away at age 71 on January 4, 2021 in Victoria, BC. Friend, mentor, environmental journalist and communicator, truth-seeker, devoted partner, grandfather, and kindred spirit of children. Peter is survived by his beloved spouse Denise Morazé; Beth Koski (Bill) and Anita Eveleigh (Roy) of Barrie, brother Paul (Janice) in King City, and sister-in-law Teresa Gorrie in Angus; 10 nieces and nephews; 18 grand-nieces and grand-nephews. Predeceased by parents Peter Gorrie and Lily Ward Gorrie and brother Jim Gorrie. Peter was born in Toronto on March 3, 1949, named after his father in their Scottish tradition of so-honouring the second son. He was the fourth of five children raised in a loving home in suburban North York. He described his childhood as archetypically Canadian with a stay-at-home-mom and endless adventures on a street where kids played with whomever they ran into outside their front doors. Peter forged lasting friendships there, including Melanie Goldhar and Randy Norberg, who are still in Ontario. His father, who emigrated from Scotland with his parents, was a conscientious objector in the Second World War. He maintained strong religious and political beliefs that contributed to the sense of social justice and environmental awareness that became a foundation for the way Peter would see the world as a journalist. His mother, the daughter of English immigrants, provided what Peter’s grandfather called a “calm sooch” for the family. Peter graduated in 1971 with a BA in political science from York University. He moved to Ottawa to continue his studies at Carleton University, where he was “seduced by the student paper and never looked back.” That led to a career in journalism. He wasn’t ready to settle down to what he considered a staid, conventional career and answered a longing to go North, angling for and landing a job as a reporter of the weekly News of the North (now News North). When Peter arrived in Yellowknife in 1975 in the middle of winter he was immediately exposed to environmental and aboriginal issues that he would follow for the rest of his life, including the ground-breaking inquiry into the proposed Mackenzie Valley Pipeline. He believed in careful investigation, teamwork and story-building throughout his many years at the Toronto Star, whether writing stories or columns, editing the Insight Section or covering business. He loved being a “fixer” of bad copy, knew he was good at, and pleased to be known for it. It was at this time that Peter met Craig McInnes and they became lifelong friends. Peter offered him his first reporting job and mentoring, which launched Craig’s career in journalism. Other friendships from that time included Ken Faught and Roland Semjanvos, now on Vancouver Island; Elizabeth Hay in Ottawa; and Roy Thomas, in Nova Scotia. He left the News of the North to take on freelance assignments, eventually joining the Edmonton Sun, Canadian Press, and the Toronto Star in 1989, and writing features for Canadian Geographic. As a journalist, he defended Canada’s natural places through his deep, extensive reporting on the environment. Peter was a contrarian, too. As much as he loved camping and hiking in Canada’s remote places, he also loved a freelance gig that involved test-driving new “green” cars for the Toronto Star in North America and Europe. He returned to the North in 2011, joining a group of friends he had met during the Berger Inquiry. Together, they visited schools in remote communities along the Mackenzie River. Peter’s contribution was a workshop to show high school students how to devise penetrating questions for a press conference. Each session ended by inviting an unsuspecting politician into the classroom to be grilled by the teens. Peter and Denise met on a Bruce Trail hike in Ontario in 1995. They remained happily together until his death, taking canoe trips, visiting with his aunt and uncle in remote Pog (Lake Pogamasing, Ontario) in summer and winter, roaming Toronto’s culture scene and travelling to see Peter’s cousins in Scotland. He honoured that Scottish heritage all his life. In the fall of 2016 they moved to Victoria to be closer to Denise’s daughter Lisa Timmons (David Hill), and grandchildren Tristan and Jacqueline, as well to explore the seashores and forests of Vancouver Island; and son Sean Timmons (Shannon) and children Jenna, Dallan and Reid in Calgary. Peter continued writing and editing. He joined the Society of Environmental Journalists, volunteered as a communications person for the local Green Party candidate in the 2019 federal election and as a member of the strata council for their complex. He took courses at the Vancouver Island School of Art and exhibited in Victoria and Saanich. He also took up tennis. He retired from environment writing in June 2019 after being diagnosed with cancer. Peter said that travels around the world taught him three things: that nobody has the right to move into someone else’s home; that we must do everything we can to protect natural resources, even if it means spending less on ourselves; and the resources we do have must be shared equitably. These fundamental realizations, his quiet determination and professional accomplishments made Peter Gorrie a man that Canada was lucky to have. He will be deeply missed by those who knew and loved him even as his work, and the effect he had on our lives, carries on. Special thanks to our friends, doctors at BC Cancer and palliative care staff at the Royal Jubilee Hospital. If you wish, donations may be made to Friends of the Earth, CPAWS Wildlands League in Toronto, or a charity of your choice. A celebration of life will take place when possible. Please check back OR click on the envelope icon on the left menu under "share/subscribe to this tribute" to receive automatic updates regarding this tribute.
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