OBITUARY

John Cameron Stirrat

October 18, 1942January 11, 2022
Obituary of John Cameron Stirrat
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of John Cameron Stirrat. John joins his wife Gloria and will be deeply missed by his children, David, Jamie, and Jennifer (Joshua), his grandchildren Alice, Patrick, and Kieran, and his brother Duncan. John was born in Glasgow, Scotland on October 18, 1942 to the late John and Marjory Stirrat. He, his parents, and younger brother Duncan moved to Canada when John was 6 years old. It was there where he first developed his love of hockey and he played throughout his childhood as a goalie. He attended Clairlea Public School, Churchill Collegiate, and Porter Collegiate Institute for his grade 13 year. He started at the University of Waterloo at the age of 17 as he had skipped 2 grades during elementary school and graduated in 1966 as a mechanical engineer. He married the love of his life, Gloria, that same year and they were married for 52 years at the time of her passing in 2018. John and Gloria settled in West Hill and raised their children in their home surrounded by wonderful neighbours and friends. They went on many camping trips and travelled across Canada over the years with their children, making countless cherished memories along the way. John initially secured employment with IBM but went on to spend most of his professional career at Delphax Technologies until he retired in 2006. He was the 8th employee to join the company and was a well-liked and respected manager who was known for his calm voice of reason and encyclopedic knowledge of engineering processes, practices, and history. He was also known for telling great stories and for running (and often winning) the annual NHL hockey pool. John volunteered his time and talents to many different clubs and organizations throughout his life. He coached numerous hockey teams with the West Hill Minor Hockey Association over the course of many years, and also took on an executive role within the organization. After his boys were done playing hockey, he coached his daughter’s teams within the Scarborough Sharks Girls Hockey League. He could even be found on the bench at her games in the various adult women’s hockey leagues she joined throughout the following decade. John was always a welcome addition behind any hockey bench as he had such vast knowledge and understanding of the game. If you go to Heron Park Arena and listen closely, you can probably still hear his echoes of “Front of the net, stick down!” and “Shoot the puck!” (followed by “Hit the net!”) reverberating through the rink. John enjoyed being both a player and a coach for his men’s slo-pitch league for many years down at Adam’s Park. He also served on the Board of Managers for many years at Grace Church in West Hill. He was a member of the Ontario Field Ornithologists for 20 years and volunteered to serve on the Board of Directors. He played a significant role in organizing the annual conventions, and even developed an electronic system of registering the yearly participants. In later years, he acted as the recording secretary for the monthly board meetings to plan future birding initiatives and opportunities for others. John was also a member of the Pickering Naturalists for nearly 20 years, where he was the Outings Coordinator for over a decade, leading countless people on nature walks, before taking on a more secretarial role in his later years. He volunteered his time at the Toronto Zoo, was a hardworking member of the Porter 50th Anniversary Committee, and served on the Ontario Power Generation Pickering Nuclear Community Advisory Council as the representative for the city of Toronto. John was an avid sports fan, and a long-suffering fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs. You could occasionally find him wearing his Chicago Blackhawks hat as a back up to his Maple Leafs hat when the Leafs were on a particularly long losing streak, but he always returned to the blue and white. John loved nature, especially bird watching. What started out as a hobby with a neighbour many decades ago became a lifelong passion. He was exceptionally knowledgeable about bird watching and species identification. John was patient and encouraging, always willing to help a newcomer get started, and was affectionately nicknamed “Master John”. He was generous with his time and expertise and genuinely happy to share his love of birds and nature with others. It wasn’t just birds; John was a well-rounded naturalist. He keenly participated in butterfly outings and workshops, and took part in several annual butterfly counts in Durham, Toronto and other regions. Similarly, he learned to identify our local dragonflies and damselflies, and shared his new knowledge with one and all. He developed lifelong friendships out in the woods with so many wonderful people and his presence will be greatly missed along the trails of Point Pelee, Cranberry Marsh, and Thickson’s Woods among other places. If there was anything he loved more than hockey and birdwatching, it was his family. John was a true family man who invested a tremendous amount of time and energy into his children. He was always ready to help with hours of homework, attend concerts and recitals, and coach endless games and practices. He filled his children’s weekends with trips to the zoo, the science centre, nature walks, camping, and other fun activities. He would always hold their hands, even if they were sticky. He had a great sense of humour and was so much fun to be around. As his children grew into adults, they remained close to him as he continued to provide them all with loving support. He really was the best dad ever. He absolutely adored his grandchildren and they adored him right back. He made sure to visit with them very often and they will all miss their Grandpa beyond measure. He always listened to what they had to say and enjoyed reading to them, joking with them, and watching them play. John never stopped gathering knowledge and he loved to learn new things. He used to say, “It’s a sad day when you don’t learn something.” He was a soft hearted, gentle soul and will be deeply missed by everyone who knew and loved him. Arrangements for a memorial service will be announced this Spring. Please feel welcome to leave a comment or share a memory you have of John. Those wishing to make a memorial donation in John’s honour are welcome to donate to the Thickson’s Woods Land Trust at http://www.thicksonswoods.com/.

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