Pierre Fortier, QC

Obituary of Pierre Wilfrid Fortier, QC



November 12, 1942 – October 6, 2021


It is with sadness that we announce Pierre’s passing, but it is with deep pride that we share the very abbreviated story of this remarkable husband and partner to Nancy, father, brother, friend, colleague and mentor.


Pierre was born in Quebec City to Jules and Beatrice (née Nash) and raised principally in Ottawa as the beloved older brother to Paul, Susan, Marie, and Julie. A self-described “undisciplined” student in his younger years, he developed a serious interest in politics, history, literature, sports and, above all, people.


After finishing at the University of Ottawa High School, Pierre attended Cornwall Classical College and immediately joined every conceivable club, from drama to choir to Latin. A talented athlete, he also quarterbacked the 1964 Cornwall Classics to win the Quebec Intercollegiate Football League.  


It was in Cornwall that Pierre met his match and the love of his life, Nancy Burke, whom he adored and to whom he was devoted for the next 59 years. As Pierre completed his studies at the University of Ottawa Law School, he and Nancy welcomed Penny, who was then followed by David (Allison), Sarah (Stuart), Matthew (Martha) and Jacob (Nicole). Pierre lived for his family, forever trying to impress Nancy, helping and teaching his children and unashamedly bragging about all of them to his many friends.


Pierre practiced law as a partner at Honeywell, Wotherspoon in Ottawa before making his mark on the Canadian political landscape. His sharp mind, natural leadership skills, humour and charm made him a highly effective National Director of the Progressive Conservative Party from 1981-1983. To help the party regroup after the 1992 federal election, Pierre returned as President from 1995-1998. In between, he built a remarkable career as a political consultant, first as a partner at Curley, Fortier & Associates, then as President and CEO of Public Affairs International, President and Vice-Chairman of Hill & Knowlton Canada and founder of Fortier Public Affairs. He also served proudly on the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing.  He retired in 2008 as a senior executive at ITL in Montreal.


Pierre believed in giving his time to causes that were close to home and to his heart.  From the Rotary Club, where he served as President, to numerous health services, charitable and community organizations in Ottawa, Pierre found the underdog and fought on their behalf because he cared and because he could.     


He was also a lot of fun.  His love for life was infectious and endeared him to family, friends as well as strangers.  It was also the source of many good-natured antics and adventures, including (but certainly not limited to) pushing the boundaries of comedy as MC of the Camper Show at Red Pine Camp, making his kids howl with laughter at the dinner table, organizing fishing trips with family and friends at Nekabong, travelling with Nancy, and simply leading the religious observation of Fortier Family Friday night pizza. Pierre was a bon vivant and raconteur, as skilled and comfortable at weaving together stories in English as he was in French. Together, he and Nancy created a life of purpose and a house full of love, laughter, compassion, lessons, common sense and expectations.


Pierre touched many lives, and he valued in others what he demonstrated every day in his own life: integrity, honesty and humour. This is how he will be remembered, and these are the traits that make up his forever living legacy.


Pierre leaves Nancy, their children, his sisters (he was predeceased by his brother), and eleven grandchildren: Oscar, Beck, Mathilde, Amelia, Killian, Beatrice, Lucas, Léo, Chloé, Kieran and George.


There will be a private funeral for family and, at a later date, a true celebration worthy of Pierre with wine, song and laughter. Condolences can be sent to inpierresmemory@gmail.com. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Whatever It Takes campaign at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (http://uhnfoundation.ca/orograms/heart).


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