Patrick passed away on Wednesday, November 20, 2019, age 76, with his wife Linda and nephew Owen at his side. Patrick is lovingly remembered by Linda, his daughter Victoria and her partner Jonathan Page, his granddaughter Nia and Nia’s father Charles Onyango, Patrick’s brother Brian and partner, Sheila Lacroix, Linda’s sister Nancy Cymbalisty and her husband Ron, Patrick’s nephews and nieces Owen and Emily Sheppard and Kevin and Lindsey Cymbalisty, Jonathan’s daughters Kara and Madison, and many friends and colleagues. He was predeceased by his dear sister-in-law Barbara Sheppard, mother of Owen and Emily. He will be missed by his cousin Tom and the extended Sheppard family. In spite of the rare degenerative brain disease—progressive supranuclear palsy—that so negatively impacted his life for the past six or so years, Patrick approached every day without complaint, was tenacious in his will to live, and welcomed all the visits and outings from his many friends and family.
Born in Toronto on July 6, 1943, Patrick attended Jarvis Collegiate Institute in downtown Toronto and then went on to study at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, graduating with a law degree from the University of New Brunswick in 1969. Patrick spent three terms as a Toronto alderman (city councillor) before resuming his legal career with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and as Discipline Counsel at the Law Society of Upper Canada. In 1991, Patrick was appointed to the bench of the Ontario Court of Justice and sat in Newmarket and Scarborough before moving to the Old City Hall in downtown Toronto.
Patrick’s contributions to the legal profession were numerous and significant. He saw his position on the bench as a platform from which he could not only uphold the rule of law but also improve the lives of Ontarians, particularly those most in need. He is best known for his landmark judgement R. v. Parker (medical marijuana), and for being one of the co-founders of Ontario’s Gladue Court, along with Justice Rebecca Shamai, Justice Brent Knazan, and Jonathan Rudin of Aboriginal Legal Services.
The Gladue Court or Aboriginal Persons Court was established in response to the 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Gladue that instructed courts to consider alternative sanctions to imprisonment, “with particular attention to the circumstances of aboriginal offenders.” This first Gladue Court opened in Toronto’s Old City Hall in 2001, and there are now an additional seven courts serving self-identifying Indigenous persons across Ontario. In 2016, for his incredible passion and leadership, Patrick received the Champion of Justice Award from Aboriginal Legal Services, celebrating the Gladue Court’s 15th anniversary and Aboriginal Legal Services 25th anniversary. In a speech from that event, one of his dear friends and colleagues wrote in part: “That’s the way I suspect he’d like to be known and honoured: in all his humanity. The life of privilege, the compassion of everyman … an inspiration to all of us who think we can improve the system. It’s about the beating heart of a human being.”
In addition to his dedication to his work, Patrick’s passion was travel. He and Linda travelled extensively, starting their married life in a Volkswagen camper van in Europe for nine months in 1969–70. With their daughter Victoria, they visited places like Uzbekistan in the former Soviet Union in the ’90s, when it was not a well-known destination, and they were able to shake hands with Nelson Mandela on a visit to South Africa in the year 2000. With his sister-in-law Nancy and brother-in-law Ron, Patrick and Linda had some momentous adventures sea-kayaking in Belize and surviving a blizzard on the floe edge on Baffin Island. Patrick and Victoria did some father-daughter bonding when they both became certified scuba divers when Victoria was a teenager.
Not to be forgotten was Patrick’s great love for the cottage on Limerick Lake. He and Linda spent many weeks in summers there with friends and family, Patrick always the expert barbeque chef, and in his spare time trail-building on the hundred acres of water- access-only cottage land. When they were in their fifties, Patrick introduced Linda to the joys of overnight canoe trips, and for many years, they looked forward to planning their next summer excursion, just the two of them, often in Algonquin Park.
The family wants to recognize the compassionate care that Patrick received from staff at his residence in Christie Gardens. They are also grateful for the dedication of loyal friends and volunteers, and for the organizing talents of John Sewell, all of whom continued to make Patrick’s life warmer and richer even when this became more and more challenging.
The family welcomes donations in Patrick’s memory to the Canada-Mathare Education Trust (https://www.cmetrust.org/donate), founded by his daughter Victoria in 2006. CMETrust provides education opportunities to children from Kenya’s second-largest slum in Nairobi, Mathare. Patrick visited Mathare twice and was an enthusiastic supporter of CMETrust and so proud of the compassion and tenacity of everyone involved.
A celebration of Patrick’s life will be held at a later date. Condolences may be forwarded through www.humphreymiles.com.