Norman Dyson

Obituary of Norman Desmond Dyson



January 7, 1932

May 30, 2020


Norm passed away peacefully at home in the arms of his beloved son, Arthur, supported by his loving wife, Rose, weeks after their 55th wedding anniversary. He died from natural causes in his 89th year after several months of declining health. He is also survived by his adored daughter, Anna, her husband, Christopher Sharples and beloved grandson, Harrison Sharples. We are profoundly grateful for the wonderful palliative care arranged for him by the Toronto Local Health Integrated Network.


A talented trial lawyer and a Superior Court Judge, Norm led a life that was dedicated to the pursuit of a just and fair society.  Born in Toronto to Arthur Morris Dyson and Winifred Barry, he lived at Pape and O’Connor in East York and grew up recalling many happy memories of a childhood exploring the Don Valley. He was predeceased by his oldest brother, Edward (Norma) and youngest brother, Wayne. He is survived by his brothers, Douglas (Betty), Dwight (Sonia) and sister, Anny (Richard). He leaves behind a number of nieces and nephews having always followed their various paths in life with great interest and pride.


A proud son of East York, Norm co-founded the Hager, Hull and Miller Scholarship Fund in honour of the athletic coaches at East York Collegiate who instilled in him a love of sports and a graceful sense of sportsmanship and fairness. He became a valued quarterback for the legendary East York Goliaths Football team before going on to Queen’s University, where he played quarter back for the Golden Gaels. In addition to becoming a shining star on both high school and university basketball teams, his track and field achievements in his youth included winning a North American Hurdling Championship.  He maintained a lifelong interest in sports and avidly followed the professional tennis career of his son Arthur who travelled the world to play in satellite tournaments. In his latter years, Norm enjoyed many years as a member of “Leo and the Gang” at the Rosedale Tennis Club where the nets go up as soon as the snow melts and remain until it falls again. Pictures of Christmas cheer gatherings featuring Norm with his team mates in their parkas holding their racquets are still posted in our kitchen. In later life, lawn bowling at the RCYC added to his love of sailing Leander. Perhaps his most beloved sport was a gentle sail on several Ontario lakes that he explored throughout his life.


In 1959, Norm graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School. He established a law practice with Paul Lee, George Wootten, Shelly Drebin and Jack Fireman, eventually forming a second law firm with Michael Kacaba, Ingrid Mactkars and Hugh Pattison. As a practicing barrister for over 35 years, Norm was a passionate advocate on behalf of his clients and he developed a reputation as a formidable foe, whose anticipated presence in the courtroom led to many settlements.  In 1995, bestowing tremendous pride on his family, he was appointed to the Superior Court of Justice and served on the Bench until 2007, presiding over cases of significant public concern.   During his tenure as a practicing lawyer he was also a dedicated mentor to articling students who admired him for his intellect and sense of compassion.  An active member of the Canadian Bar Association, Norm was committed to the intellectual life of his legal community. He was also a staunch advocate for strengthening democratic global institutions and was the Honorary President of the Toronto Branch of the World Federalist Movement of Canada.  As an ardent environmentalist, he supported numerous environmental associations. To the initial bemusement and general mirth of many, long before it was fashionable, Norm was an early enthusiast of year round cycling as his principal mode of transportation to and from his law offices and the Court House, where upon arrival he would remove layers of snow-laden ‘foul weather’ gear to reveal courtroom attire beneath.


Upon retirement, Norm immersed himself in his lifelong love of music which he applied towards programs supporting the homeless and the elderly. As a member of the Rosedale United Church Congregation, he regularly played the piano for the Out of the Cold program at the Christian Resource Centre in Regent Park, and later at a number of retirement homes across Toronto.  Over the years his baritone ukulele made him a sought after guest at many parties and gatherings on the South Island of the RCYC. He was also a dedicated supporter of his wife Rose’s charitable organization, Canadians Concerned about Violence in Entertainment (C-CAVE).  His frequent trips to visit his daughter and her family in New York became a highlight of his later years.  


In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to the Hager, Hull and Miller Scholarship Fund or to Canadians Concerned About Violence in Entertainment.  A private funeral will be followed by a celebration of Norman’s life at a later date due to current COVID restrictions.   


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