Douglas Caldwell

Obituary of Douglas Young Caldwell

February 5, 1928 – April 28, 2020


Our beloved dad, Douglas Young Caldwell, cast off for the last time on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in his 93rd year, following two challenging years of declining health. He passed peacefully, surrounded by love. It was a good day.


But then every day was a good day when you spent it with Dad. Just ask his three adoring children, Penny (David Harris) of Oakville, Carolyn (Keith Richardson) of Toronto, and Charles (Tess Lyons) of Hong Kong, his eight beloved grandchildren, Carly Pesek (Phil) and Emma Harris (Matt Breton-Honeyman), Bronwyn and Galen Richardson, Sebastian, Sela, Jasper, and Carys Caldwell, and his great-granddaughter, Abigail Pesek. Family was his most important legacy, and he and his late wife Sheena (née Stamers) hosted numerous gatherings of the clan at the farm in Omemee. Memories of hiking, skating, and big family meals will hold us close as we learn to live without his indomitable spirit in the months and years ahead.


Dad was born in Toronto on February 5, 1928, to William Salem and Euphemia Elizabeth (née Ingall) Caldwell. His life was filled with adventure, a desire to excel, and a talent for throwing outstanding parties. Ever industrious as a young man, he was most proud when he was hired on as a steward on the lake boats. While at the University of Toronto, he joined the Phi Chi medical fraternity. We’ve heard stories of those university days (how exactly did the Uof T engineers’ canon disappear that night?), some of which may be true.


Douglas graduated from UofT medical school in 1952, the same year he married Sheena, and worked for a time in his father’s family practice before completing his residency in anaesthesia in Sheffield, England. He returned to join the staff at Toronto East General Hospital (TEGH, now Michael Garron) and was there from 1959 to 1993, then traveled the province doing locums as far away as James Bay until his retirement in 1998.


In 1979-80 he served as President of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). He was also a charter member and sometime chair of the OMA’s Insurance Committee and Charter Chair of the Ethics Committee of TEGH.


Outside the hospital, the wind and the sea bewitched our dad. An experienced sailor, he cruised and raced his cherished boats on both short trips and months-long voyages. His semi-annual hot dog parties at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club featured Girl Guide cookies and wine and grew to be a South Island highlight. During the off-season, he made his own wine (not bad, if he did say so himself) and his own maple syrup, an annual March Break tradition at the farm. He baked cookies for the pastoral care program at Timothy Eaton United Church, his infamous cookie tin collection growing out of control until it dominated the counters in his condo. He built a HAM radio and talked to people around the world. He recruited the family and unsuspecting friends to plant more than 10,000 trees to reforest the farm property. And after Sheena died in 2002, he continued to entertain guests – including his treasured ukulele family – with good food, good stories, and good music.


We invite you to join us in celebration of Douglas, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, we’ll have to wait awhile, until it is safe for us all to be together. Meanwhile, we hope that you will raise a glass to a remarkable man and a life full of optimism, wisdom, and love.