H. Blane Bowen

Obituary of H. Blane Bowen


Blane Bowen, who always saw life as an adventure to be lived to the fullest, passed away peacefully in Toronto on Monday, October 12, 2020, after a hard fought battle with cancer. Predeceased by his wife of 20 years, Sally (Douglas) and survived by Hilary Macmillan, the mother of his three children and their families: son Michael (Mike) Bowen and his wife Kathryn and children Henry, Audrey and Ross; son Timothy (Tim) Bowen and his wife Marie-Lise and children Thomas, Charlie and Simon; daughter Jennifer (Jenn) Rood (Bowen) and her husband Frank Rood and children, Jackie Rood and husband Derin Ulker, Kate and Sam, and Jackie and Derin’s children Ella and Hannah. He is also survived by his brother William (Bill) Bowen and sister Beverley (Bev) Bowen. Born in Toronto, Canada on January 2, 1939 to Barbara Tirbutt and Henry (Boy) Bowen.


A passionate and perpetually curious man, Blane was never one to pay homage to the naysayers nor do things by half measure. A successful fork-truck peddler, as he liked to say, Blane worked his way from the parts order desk to CEO and Owner of Liftow Ltd. over a 50 year career. His success in business was only overshadowed by his success in living and the many true friends he made wherever he travelled.


In his later years, as a keen fly fisherman, upland bird hunter and conservationist, Blane was often knee deep on the saltwater flats, double-hauling the perfect cast or guiding a bird dog through the fields, shotgun in hand. He regularly thought about what was needed and could be done to protect the world which gave him such joy and initiated or supported projects that made a difference.


Throughout his life, Blane never ceased exploring the world; Kenya and Israel among his favorite countries with such rich and diverse cultures and histories. He could also be found off the Antarctic coast capturing Emperor Penguins on film, exploring the off-roads of India on motorcycle, cruising the Galapagos Islands in pursuit of Darwin’s discoveries or walking the Dolomites wondering about Carthage’s Hannibal. His love of people and places was unceasing.


Perhaps his most profound passion, however, was the ocean. Blane truly fell in love with the ocean: embraced its many moods and sailed many of its seas. For most of his years, you could only find him if you could smell the sea: living on Atlantica, the family’s beloved schooner, gunkholing along the coast of Maine, exploring the many islands of the Bahamas and greater Caribbean, cruising the Mediterranean, winning the 1979 trans-Atlantic race on his Swan 48, Scaramouche of Warwick, before a successful Cowes Week campaign that included surviving the tragic Fastnet Race, or dragging his J-24, Chain Smoker, around North America from regatta to regatta (with his young family in tow) to eventually secure a spot at the World Championships in San Francisco.


While the ocean played an inspirational and dominant role in Blane’s life, he was just as drawn to the arts. Whether it was in support of the performers, composers and artists he enjoyed, teaching himself to paint and capture the moments that moved him, the photography that placed him on the cover of Sail Magazine or his many hours designing and building whatever his imagination inspired in his workshop. His fascination with creativity never left him.


However, above all else, his love and pride for his family had no equal. While one could never call Blane a traditional family man, he led by example, instilling a deep sense of integrity, personal responsibility and spirit for adventure into his children. Supporting them but never interfering (well mostly), allowing them to fail and to triumph, to follow their own passions and excited to see where it led them.


In the end, he will probably be most remembered for that infamous twinkle in his eye and how he made people feel special; and who could want anything more.


In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to The Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care or Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation Fund.  Condolences may be forwarded through www.humphreymiles.com.