John Sambrook

August 31, 1935December 12, 2018

It is with deep sadness that we announce the peaceful passing of John Sambrook on Dec 12, 2018. Beloved husband of Mary and loving father to Bart (Susan), Caro and Patrick. He is survived by his sister Anne Cowan.

John was born in London, England and came to Canada in 1956 to make a life for himself in Montreal. His first job was bartending at the Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club where he met many life-long friends and, eventually he worked for the Royal Trust in Methods and Systems and at Canadair. He had several passions which he never stopped pursuing until the last days of his life.

In his early years he played in goal on his school soccer teams and then became an accomplished cricket player for the National Air Training Corps. Foremost in his life, however, was his love of automobiles and car racing which resulted in his recent induction into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame as a driver, instructor and track designer. He also loved playing, teaching and competing in squash, both singles and doubles; in the summer he would switch rackets and play tennis.

John was a founder of the Opimian Society which he ran for 35 years during which time he traversed the country countless times educating Canadians on the joys of wines from all over the world. His love of wine would spread to publishing, guided tours to wine producing countries and his involvement in the William Hill Winery (Napa, CA), the Black Prince Winery (Picton, ON) and Winesecrets (Sebastapol, CA). John was also an avid and accomplished chef who loved to treat friends and family to creative and delicious cuisine always carefully matched with fine wines.

A memorial service is planned at 11:00am Friday February 8, 2019 at St. Georges Church, 1101 Stanley, in Montreal. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to the Cedars Cancer Foundation in John’s memory.


John Sambrook

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Amyot Bachand

February 6, 2019

Toutes mes sympathies à la famille.
J’ai eu le privilège de connaître et de côtoyer John sur differents circuits de courses au pays.
John était toujours affable, et sur la piste un sérieux compétiteur mais toujours un gentleman, sachant apprécier les autres télés respectant.

Je suis désolé d’avoir perdu ce grand gentleman racer.

Farewell John.

Hélène Gagné

January 5, 2019

Dear Mary

Words cannot completely express the pain of a great loss or the sadness of your friends, but please know that you and yours are in my prayers at this difficult time. Very affectionately, Hélène.

Doug and Rose Crosty

December 26, 2018

Our deepest sympathies, it was an honour to be inducted along with John. It was a great night and John gave a great speech, truly a highlight of the night. Doug Crosty.

Dennis Bishop

December 22, 2018

John was one of the most amazing people I have ever met. If there is someone with a stronger love of life, with greater passion and missionary zeal for his pursuits, I have never heard of them. He breathed vigorous life into what he believed in, whether it was his family, wine, squash, motor sport or any other of his many interests. You have left behind many people whose lives are fuller and richer thanks to your drive and mentoring. You will be greatly missed and always in my heart. Cheers!

David & Susan Dunlop

December 20, 2018

The memories, like the wonderful wines from Opimian Offerings, flowed forth when I learned today of Sam’s death. 45 years—as an Op Soc member (with a membership number in the 800s), an Area Secretary and a Board member of both the Society and Black Prince Winery—makes for so many memories. Susan and I travelled the world and drank the best reds and whites with Sam. We were blessed to have been be a part of this extraordinary phenomenon that Sam created and which continues to thrive today.

Thank you, John Sambrook. Drink on wherever you are. I continue to be a member and continue to benefit from your legacy.

Dr. Carl rubino

December 20, 2018

The Opimian Society has had a profound effect on our lives. Eagerly joining fellow wine lovers in the early 70's we morphed into being Area Secretaries. Gerry began her career as a wine writer with Tidings and I ended up on the Board of Directors. Many a good glass of wine and many a great trip to wine country. It wouldn't have happened without John. John was the Opimian Society.

David Langlois

December 19, 2018

I was introduced to Sam by Mary, after a rehearsal for the Montreal West Operatic Society when we would go and sing some more around Tony Bogert’s piano. It was soon after that I became a member of the Opimian Society, number 2168. Many years later I queried Sam about that number as I wondered how they had conscripted that many members in such a short time. Sam said: “We hadn’t. The numbering started at 2160. We wanted people to think there were already a large number of members.” I had a personal experience of his driving when he and I entered a rally. I navigated. He drove. It was the best use of our assets as we won. I remember fondly the dinners we had, especially those for the “Brits” that we knew. Scotch eggs, bangers & mash, and sticky toffee pudding were usually the order of the day. He introduced me to Spaghetti Carbonara, for which my children will forever be in his debt. He was generous with his time and his wine. And I enjoyed his infectious smile. Thank you for the time I knew you. RIP.

Geoff Webb

December 19, 2018

I was privileged to know John (Sam) Sambrook my entire life - a good friend of my parents he agreed to be my Godfather. A guiding light - he became a mentor, business partner and friend. We also had some great adventures on the Race Track - John was a fierce competitor and after over 50 years of contributing to the Sport in Canada, the UK and USA he was recently inducted into The Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame.
An avid oenophile and businessman he founded both The Opimian Society (1973) and Black Prince Winery (2001). A character with a BIG personality and great public speaker John touched many, many lives and I was lucky to know him.
Sam, you will be hugely missed !

Rod De Courcy-Ireland

December 19, 2018

John was a long time friend and concrete in both the Opimian Society and Black Prince Winery. He was a visionary in so many ways in the wine business in Canada. He was at my apartment for a Board meeting only three weeks before he died, and although in great pain, wanted to participate until the end.
In Vino Veritas,

Tony Aspler

December 18, 2018

I was so sorry to hear of John's passing. We used to play squash when I would come to Montreal to work with him on Winetidings and I would stay at his house. He was a good friend. RIP , John. Never did call you 'Sam.'