The Reverend Thomas G. Vais

January 11, 1961September 20, 2020

Presbytery of Oak Ridges


Tom Vais was born in Winnipeg in January 1961 to The Rev. Dr. George and Faith Vais. From infancy, he was nurtured in Christian faith within the home of his loving family, and in the congregations served by his father.

Upon graduation with a Master of Divinity degree from Knox College, Toronto, Tom served from 1990 to 2007 as Minister of Caledonia Presbyterian Church in the Presbytery of Hamilton. In 2007, he and his wife, The Rev. Dr. Heather Vais, formed a vital team ministry at Thornhill Presbyterian Church in the Presbytery of Oak Ridges.

Tom was often called upon to serve the Boards and Committees of the National Church where his talents for fair hearing and careful speaking were put to good use. He sat, most notably, on the Assembly Council, the Canada Ministries Advisory Council, and as the Convenor of the Committee on Education and Reception. In 2011, he was appointed to the Board of The Presbyterian Church Building Corporation. He became its chair in 2019. He was the Moderator of the Presbytery of Hamilton in 2005 and the Presbytery of Oak Ridges in 2012. Whenever Tom served as ‘Dean’ at gatherings of Canada Youth, young people and fellow team mates alike responded to his good nature. They respected his deep sensibility. All who knew Tom quickly came to value his calm demeanour and dependability.

From his earliest years, Tom acquired a love for outdoor life. He spent many summers at his family’s home in Vankoughnet, Ontario, working at his uncle’s sawmill in his youth, and returning every year to be in the company of his extended family. Tom treasured nature’s tranquility and beauty. He loved to view the lake from his dock at the cottage. He spent many happy days there with his beloved wife, Heather, and his children Brett and Elizabeth. He gathered often, too, with a group of dear friends he’d known since his years as a student at Knox College, Toronto. Tom read avidly, and his appetite for recorded and live music was just as insatiable. He was active at the gym, on a mountain bike, and exercising at home.

Tom’s younger brother, Chris – “my best friend,” Tom maintained – had entered the ministry of The Presbyterian Church in Canada a few years before Tom. In 2002, Chris died from the afflictions of A.L.S. (‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease’). Tom displayed his strong allegiance to Chris and his wife, Susan, and their daughter, Clare, through every stage of that illness, walking with them in faith and devotion. Tom was an eminently fair man. He treated everyone with grace and equal respect. He was a devoted father and loving husband.

Tom loved being a Minister of the Church of Jesus Christ. He was attentive to his parishioners, faithful to his calling, and loyal to his friends. In the pulpit he was a clear and compelling preacher, whose words were always marked by the grace, mercy, and peace of his Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Tom was predeceased by his dear brother and best friend, The Rev. Dr. Christopher Vais, and by his mother Faith Vais. He will be deeply missed by his beloved wife The Rev. Dr. Heather Vais; his children Brett and Elizabeth; his father, The Rev. Dr. George Vais; his sisters Nancy (Lyndon Brown) and Michelle; and by his sister-in-law Susan McLeod. He is also missed by his nieces and nephews, Nelson, Jenna, Clare, Hunter and Cassidy. Tom will also be deeply missed by his brothers and sisters-in-law and their children and grand children.

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)

Visitation will be held on Friday, September 25, 2020 from 2-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. at the R.S. Kane Funeral Home, 6150 Yonge Street, Toronto. Please be aware that number restrictions are in place. A private Funeral Service will be held on Saturday, September 26, 2020 at 4:30pm at R.S. Kane Funeral Home. Please visit for the Live Stream Link for Funeral Service. Private family interment. If desired, donations to Thornhill Presbyterian Church or ALS Society of Canada.



  • Visitation

    Friday, September 25, 2020

  • Visitation

    Friday, September 25, 2020

  • Private Funeral Service - By Invitation Only

    Saturday, September 26, 2020



  • Private Family Interment


The Reverend Thomas G. Vais

have a memory or condolence to add?

Sandra Kinnear

September 30, 2020

Dear Heather,

I was so very sorry to hear of Tom's passing. My love to you, Brett and Elizabeth.

I will remember Tom for the comfort he brought me in officiating Peter's funeral. His gentle and loving presence made me feel I was in good hands and that, somehow, everything would be okay.

May all the beautiful memories of your life together bring you many smiles in the days to come. Remember, I am always here for you, as you were for me.


Kati Daniel

September 29, 2020

Dear Heather and family,

Deeply saddened by the news of Tom‘s passing....As our family knows only too well, the shock of sudden events.

I want you to know that my parents, Clara and Ernie Daniel thought so much of you that they wanted me to come to church to meet you both in person. The first introduction was at a monthly luncheon where you both presented your travel pictures of the pilgrimage you made to Spain, to walk the El Camino de Santiago. How impressed I was! And how motivated to be just like you and Tom.

So glad and thankful that you have passed through our lives and that special memories can be cherished.

Richard Johnson

September 29, 2020

Dear Heather, Brett and Elizabeth,
I was totally shocked to learn of Tom's death. He was so health conscious here in Caledonia, especially with the bike group. I remember his first day on "the job" here at CPC taking him to see a dying parishioner at her bedside at home and the depth of compassion he showed to someone he had not known. It was also a great pleasure to serve as clerk with him for 2 years near the end of his time at Caledonia.
God bless you all.
Richard and Kathy Johnson

Doug Dodman

September 27, 2020

Dear Heather, Brett and Elizabeth,

I'm sorry to hear of Tom's passing. Although I was in the TPC community for only a short time in 2008, I felt welcomed to take part in it. You are doing a good ministry. I hope during this time, you find comfort with your nearby friends and family and church community. I will keep you in my prayers as you grieve the loss of your husband and father.


Lesley and Pierre Vadnais

September 27, 2020

Dear Heather, Brett and Elizabeth,

We are devastated to hear of Tom's sudden passing. As you go through this difficult time, remember that you are so loved. We were grateful to attend the beautiful funeral service, virtually, and we want you to know that you are in our hearts, thoughts and prayers.

With much love,

Lesley and Pierre

Bevan Bonthron

September 26, 2020

Heather, Brett, Elizabeth, George and Family
Thinking of you all as you grieve Tom's passing. My prayer is that the many happy memories you have will bring you comfort and peace in the days ahead.

Glen Miller

September 26, 2020

Hi Heather, Tracy & I are so very saddened and schocked by Tom's passing. You and Tom made a huge impact on our small town and neither of you will ever be forgotten. The Miller's in particular were blessed to have you both play an integral part in our lives. We were honoured when you and Tom officiated together our wedding and were amazed that Tom would help us bury Dad. We were worried about him driving out in the worst blizzard of 2018 to conduct Dads Funeral Service but he made it. He was such a wonderful man. We are thinking of you today as you, Tom and family say goodbye temporarily. Please see the photos of you and Tom. Love Tracy & Glen Miller.

Clarebel & George

September 26, 2020

You will dearly be missed Rev Tom...... thank you for baptizing our two children in the Lord.

Our deepest condolences Rev. Heather. George and Gerald

Clarebel & George

September 26, 2020

Dear Rev Heather, we are so shocked and sad to hear of the sudden death of Rev. Tom. May God give you and the family strenght . We are with you all in prayers. Lots of love from Ghana. ...our deepest condolences 🙏

Suchung Seo

September 25, 2020

Dear Heather
I'm so sorry to hear of the unexpected loss.
My heart goes out to you at this time of grief..
We will miss him..
His an amazing and heart warm person..


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