Obituary of Janet Barbara Waddington
It is with sadness that the family of Janet Waddington (née Oxley) announces her passing on Friday, January 3, 2020 at Kensington Hospice in Toronto in her 72nd year, after a brief struggle with pancreatic cancer. Janet is survived by Dennis, her husband of 49 years; her children, Andrew (Karyn) and Sarah(Joseph Ali); her grandchildren, Alex, Addie and Elliot; her sister, Susan and brother, James. Professional palaeontologist, wife, mother, grandmother, volunteer, friend and community personality were some of Janet’s many roles in a full life, and she is missed by all. She was always in her element when with colleagues, friends and loved ones and is universally remembered for her smile. After completing her MSc in Geology at the University of Toronto, Janet joined the Royal Ontario Museum’s Invertebrate Palaeontology Department, retiring from there in 2012 as an Assistant Curator after over 40 years of passionate involvement in ROM’s scientific, public and institutional activities. Her primary role was in collection management and began with preparing and publishing a catalogue of type specimens held in her department at the ROM. She managed six or seven successive migrations of the collections data off paper and into new computer systems, which she used to manage loans to researchers around the world. Over the years Jan contributed to designing and building four new galleries and the Curatorial Centre at the ROM. Her most recent project was Coordinating Curator for the design and construction of the Gallery of the Age of Dinosaurs in its new Crystal home. Aspects of that process were recorded in the90 th Parallel Productions / National Film Board of Canada documentary The Museum. Janet shared her knowledge and interests in papers, popular articles and public presentations for which her topics were collections, collections management, conservation and ROM history. A memorable cover story in Rotunda magazine described her work on amber specimens and artifacts in the ROM collections. Part of her public outreach was helping to initiate the ROM’s popular ID Clinics, where Palaeontology, Geology and Mineralogy staff regularly meet with members of the public bringing specimens they want identified. Along the way she also filled a number of institutional roles at ROM. She became a certified Occupational Health and Safety representative and co-chaired the ROM’s joint health and safety committee for many years. She was on the founding executive of ROMCA (ROM’s curatorial union) and she chaired the ROM Science Curators Council for a number of years. Post retirement she was appointed Departmental Associate at ROM. She took advantage of this change in responsibilities to complete her study of some newly discovered Silurian marine scorpion fossils from the Eramosa Formation of the Bruce Peninsula that had come into the collections from members of the public over several years. This work was published in 2015 in Biology Letters as “A new mid-Silurian aquatic scorpion—one step closer to land?”. Her professional involvement was not confined within the walls of the ROM either. She was a founding member, a past Secretary and long-time supporter of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections including serving for six years as Managing Editor for Collection Forum, SPNHC’s official, peer reviewed journal. Following her retirement from the ROM, she joined the board of the Canadian Fire Fighters Museum(Port Hope). Her challenges there involved coordinating the sorting through and identification of the entire collection as it had to be packed up and put into storage pending locating and moving into a new facility. This challenge was something she did not know was coming when she joined but which she approached with determination and professional dedication. Fire trucks and their history and related items are a far cry from fossil animals but she enjoyed every minute of picking up the torch from earlier volunteers to learn about them and fit the artifacts into the rudiments of a modern museum to help it re-open in future. In retirement Janet and Dennis spent many hours at Belliacres, their property in Port Hope where they tended 200 acres of forest. The property is a legacy of the work of her parents to recover the land from over-grazed blowing sand while Jan was growing up. It is managed as a wildlife and forest refuge, with walking and cross-country ski trails and was always a central part of her connection to the natural world and a bit of heaven for a succession of family border collies. Just being there tending trails, trees and gardens brought Janet much pleasure. Spending so much time there, she also developed an interest in and got involved with many rural/urban community issues and municipal politics in Port Hope. Her family invites well-wishers to visit them between 2:00 – 4:00 or 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. on Friday, January 10th at the Humphrey Funeral Home A.W. Miles – Newbigging Chapel, 1403 Bayview Avenue (south of Davisville), Toronto. In lieu of flowers, people wishing to acknowledge Janet’s life in a material way may make a donation in her memory to the Royal Ontario Museum for its Early Life Gallery (www.rom.on.ca), or to the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (www.spnhc.org). Condolences may be forwarded through www.humphreymiles.com.