Sir Neil Shaw

Obituary of Sir Neil McGowan Shaw



May 31, 1929 – March 18, 2023


Sir Neil passed away peacefully, at home in Toronto, surrounded by family.


Born in Montreal, Quebec to Major H. LeRoy Shaw and his wife Fabiola McGowan, our father was brought up in Montreal and Knowlton, Quebec, attending both Lower Canada College and Knowlton Academy. His education ended at the young age of 16 with the death of his father necessitating Dad to enter the workforce. This necessary move would shape the man he would become.


Sir Neil learnt the basic principles of what would become his hallmarks in life: hard work matters; maintain integrity in all relationships; have an acute interest in people regardless of their walk of life; and have a positive attitude no matter how big the challenge.


These traits served him well from his entry into the workforce at Crown Trust, to his progression to CEO of Redpath Industries in Canada, and ultimately his appointment as CEO and Chairman of Tate and Lyle PLC in London, UK where he lived for 20 years. During his career his opportunity to build relationships across continents was his passion, and his infectious energy, optimism and sincerity attracted people who would become colleagues and friends for life. He had the capacity to make people feel that they were the only person in the room when he was talking with them. Never arrogant, he always had the time to listen. Dad retired to Canada in the late 1990s.


One of Sir Neil’s greatest accomplishments was receiving, in June, 1994, his knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his “Contribution to the Food Industry and Service to the Community”. As Chairman of Prince Charles’ Prince’s Trust he worked tirelessly with the Prince (King Charles III) in restoring the inner communities of London by encouraging the capabilities of youth to become productive citizens. He firmly believed in the talent of the next generation and was always asking “what would you like to accomplish in life?”


During his career, he served on many corporate boards:  Texaco Canada; Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce; Crown Trust; Smiths Biscuits (UK); Scottish and Newcastle Breweries (UK). He also brought his inimitable enthusiasm and encouragement to a variety of community and philanthropic organizations.


Dad was the proud father of five children who were his world: David (Martha), Michael (Linda), Cynthia (Richard), Andrea (Eric) and Toni (Kevin). He was fortunate to have 14 grandchildren: David, Kip, Stephen, Nicholas, Amanda, Kathryn, David, Justin, Ryan, Leah, Jamie, Peter, Sarah and 21 great-grandchildren.  He was predeceased by his grandson, Michael (2003). Sir Neil is survived by his former wives, Audrey Robinson Shaw Pinney, and Elizabeth Mudge Massey and her two children, Adam (Christina) and Ryan (Tyler).


The family would like to express their immense gratitude to Eileen, Karen and Madz for their compassion and tender care of Sir Neil over the last couple of years. We would also like to thank Dr. Robert Francis, his physician and friend for over 40 years. Lastly, we would like to thank Marjorie Heath for her unwavering support as Dad’s EA at Tate and Lyle, and through his retirement.


There will be two celebrations of life for Dad. The first will be held on Wednesday, May 31st at the York Club in Toronto, 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. The second one will be at the Knowlton Golf Club on Saturday, June 3rd, 3:00 - 5:00 p.m.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory to the Lower Canada College Foundation, bursary program at 514-482-9119, Lower Canada College, 4090 Avenue Royal, Montreal, Québec, H4A 2M5.

This bursary program provides funding support to individuals who lack the financial means to attend LCC.


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